"Open sesame," the famous magic password in "Ali
Baba and the Forty Thieves," refers to how sesame seeds
quickly burst open from their pods when ripe.
Sesame is the dried, oval-shaped, flat seed of the herb Sesamum Indicum
Commonly used in breads, rolls, crackers and salad dressings, sesame
has a sweet, nutty aroma and a buttery taste.
sesame intensifies to an almost almond or peanut butter-like flavor.
It's a key ingredient in a variety of world cuisines, including specialty dishes from Asia
East and the Mediterranean.
Thought to be one of the oldest spices known to man, sesame is the
first recorded seasoning, dating back to 3000 B.C. Assyria. It was
cultivated in Mesopotamia, popular in Greek and Roman cuisine, and
eventually brought to the Americas as part of the slave trade. The
Africans called it benne seed
and it subsequently became very popular in Southern cooking.
Varieties and Buying Tips
Sesame seed can be found in the spice aisle at the supermarket and also
at natural food stores and Middle Eastern markets, where it's often
in bulk. The most common variety is a pale, grayish-ivory color, but it
also comes in shades of brown, red and black. A favorite of Japanese
cooks, black sesame is the most aromatic, with a hearty, slightly
All seeds have a relatively high oil content, so they turn rancid
quickly. Store your sesame seeds in an airtight container in a cool,
dark place for up to three months. Refrigerated, they will keep
for up to six months. Sesame seeds can also be frozen up to one year.
• Add sesame seeds to bread, muffin or cookie batters.
• Sprinkle on steamed broccoli or creamed spinach.
• Toss with buttered noodles.
• Add to bread crumbs
for coating chicken
• Sprinkle over beef
, chicken or vegetable stir fries.
• Sprinkle on refrigerated biscuits before baking for a homemade touch.
• Mix with butter
and spread onto sandwiches.
• Enhance the flavor of sesame seeds by toasting them in a dry skillet
over medium heat. Stir frequently until they turn golden brown (about
Sesame seeds are a good source of protein
, magnesium, iron
, phosphorous, vitamin B1, zinc and fiber
Try one of our favorite sesame seed recipes:
Steve's Chicken Stir Fry
French Beans with Sesame Dressing
asparagus, beef, breads, broccoli,
chicken, eggplant, fish, green beans, greens, lamb, mushrooms, oranges,