Sesame seed has been used as a condiment and a source of edible oil for over 5,000 years. Its use is as common as topping a sesame seed hamburger bun,
sprinkled on a wide variety of Asian dishes, and studding crackers and sweets in South Asian, Middle Eastern, Mediterranean, and Caribbean cuisine.
What Is Sesame Seed?
Sesame seed is the seed of the sesame plant (Sesamum indicum). The plant is an annual herb with foxglove-like flowers that produce pods containing the
edible sesame seeds. The pods burst open with a pop when the seeds are mature. The hulls
are removed as they contain oxalic acid, which gives a bitter flavor. The seeds can also be pressed for sesame oil. Besides use as a condiment, in Asia, the
toasted seeds are used to make sesame paste, which is often used as a peanut butter substitute. In Middle Eastern and Asian cuisine, the untoasted seeds
are used to make tahini paste.
White and black varieties of Sesame Seeds are available. The white has a delicate flavor and can be used in all dishes calling for sesame seeds. The black seeds
have a richer flavor and stronger aroma and are best used alongside other bold ingredients so as not to overwhelm the dish. However, the choice of black vs.
white sesame seeds is usually for the appearance more than the difference in flavor.