How To Toast Sesame Seeds: 4 Methods To Try
Most chefs advise that everything on the plate should be edible, including the garnishes. If we dig into our food and have to pick up the garnish and toss it to the side, that’s just a waste of product and effort.
So the next time you’re looking for something edible to top your dish with that will add to the flavor profile, we highly recommend grabbing a bottle of sesame seeds.
But that’s only half the battle. To get the most out of your sesame seeds, you must toast them!
Toasting the seeds will impart the most flavor and aromatics to your dishes and make it worth it to use the product. So today, we want to give you the basics on how to toast your sesame seeds and how to use them in a few simple ways.
Unhulled vs. Hulled Sesame Seeds: What’s the Difference?
Sesame seeds offer a lot of health benefits. These include essential minerals like zinc, copper, magnesium, and calcium. Not to mention the added energy you get due to their richness in carbohydrates.
There are also two main types of sesame seeds: unhulled and hulled.
Unhulled sesame seeds have their husks intact. In contrast to hulled sesame seeds, which have the husks removed. The removal happens during the manufacturing process, so it isn’t a requirement to be able to consume them.
Another big difference? Hulled sesame seeds don’t provide as many health benefits as unhulled seeds.
In addition to this, you can also get either dark or light sesame seeds. The flavor profile for all sesame seeds is nutty, and they have a mild, delicately sweet aroma. Dark sesame seeds will be stronger in flavor and crunchier than lighter ones. The pure white varieties will be the softest in texture and flavor and are the ones that have had their hulls removed.
Toasting Sesame Seeds on the Stove
This is a great method to use if you want to quickly toast some sesame seeds for your dish before your food grows cold. You can grab a shallow pot or skillet and toast a tablespoon or two of sesame seeds over medium heat for about three minutes.
The upside? It takes literal minutes and can be done even if you forget until the last minute. The downside? The sesame seeds run the risk of cooking unevenly, and you’ll only be able to toast about a handful at a time.
You’ll have some perfectly crispy seeds, and the rest could be underdone, and you run the risk of not having enough for all dishes at the end.
Toasting Sesame Seeds in a Frying Pan
To pan-fry sesame seeds, you’ll need a teaspoon of oil, preferably sesame or peanut oil. Turn the stove up to medium-high heat and toss in your sesame seeds. Stir or shake them around to coat them in the oil and fry for about 3-5 minutes until toasted.
The upside? They’ll get the flavor from the oil and fry up quickly. The downside? The oil has the potential to alter the flavor profile as well as create soggy sesame seeds.
Toasting Sesame Seeds in an Oven
You can spread out a large number of sesame seeds on a shallow baking sheet and toast up a batch of sesame seeds fairly quickly. Oven toasting can happen in two ways.
You could preheat the oven to 350 degrees and toast sesame seeds for about five minutes. Or, you could broil them, which will take about three minutes.
The upside? You can get a lot more toasted than you’ll need on hand to make extra and have them ready for the future. Plus, they’ll toast fairly evenly. The downside? You’ll have to watch them like a hawk regardless of your style. They’ll toast quickly in the oven, and one minute over could mean burnt sesame seeds.
Toasting Sesame Seeds in a Microwave
You can toast sesame seeds in the microwave by tossing them in a bit of oil, putting them in a microwave-safe bowl, covering them with a paper towel, and cooking for about two minutes.
This is our least recommended way of toasting sesame seeds. It can be a guessing game, so there will be a lot of trial-and-error associated with it.
Microwaves are infamous for creating pockets of heat which means you’ll have a lot of unevenly toasted seeds. Due to the potential strength of the microwave, a lot of seeds could potentially burn before any of the others start toasting.
Ways To Use Toasted Sesame Seeds
Now that you have a boatload of seeds ready, it’s time to put your new skill to use: garnishing your food! There are so many classic and traditional uses for sesame seeds, and we will break those down here. But in addition to these, there are also plenty of uses for sesame seeds that may seem inventive.
Sesame seeds have a savory, nutty flavor. But just like salt helps stabilize the sweetness of the desert, so too can sesame seeds. We wouldn’t have white sesame daifuku or black sesame daifuku without this innovation.
Both are chewy rice cakes wrapped around a delightfully sweet red bean paste. They are both covered in sesame seeds, which gives them a crunchy and nutty, savory-sweet exterior that works well for a light treat.
Sesame seeds provide a lot of nutty sweetness to the savory qualities of noodles in any form. While it is more classic to garnish a bowl of noodles with sesame oil, the seeds provide a textural component that would be missing otherwise. This experience is increased ten-fold when you add spice to the noodle dish.
We are drooling over the combination of nutty, sweet flavors of sesame seeds mixed with a salty, spicy depth from the noodles. We recommend this spicy sesame ramen next time a craving hits.
Sesame rolled around a sushi roll is always a good time. It will add crunch to your roll and a nutty sweetness that will bring out the sweet notes in the sushi rice. If you’re going with sashimi, try adding a few sesame seeds on top of the fish to give it texture and extra aromatics.
Vegetables naturally have a lot of sweet, starchy notes to them, but many times to extract those flavors, you need to roast the veggies. When you roast them, they lose that fresh crunch.
Thankfully, you’re ready with those sesame seeds to add back some of the crunchy texture and enhance the natural sweetness in the veg.
Stir fry is perhaps the most popular use for sesame seeds in Asian cuisine. When you add sesame seeds into a stir fry for the last minute or two of cooking, the kitchen will fill with the fragrance of the sesame seeds, and you’ll be anxious to plate and dig in.
It provides that nutty layer of flavor that cuts wonderfully through the heartiness of the dish and can add a dash of sweetness if you go the spicy route.
Tofu soaks up the flavors around it, so when you add sesame seeds, you’re adding flavor and texture to your tofu. It works perfectly with the caramelization tofu gets in a saute pan, and sesame seeds will help amplify some of the savory-sweet notes of your main dish.
How To Store Toasted Sesame
You can store sesame seeds in the pantry, freezer, or refrigerator. Make sure it is in an airtight container, and you’re good to go. In the pantry, sesame seeds will last up to three months. In the refrigerator, six months and a year in the freezer.
You are ready to get those sesame seeds toasted and ready to use. We are confident that you will find the way out of these options that work best for you and give you the most of your sesame seeds.
Everything about a culinary experience is making it make sense to you, so don’t be afraid of finding new and different ways of using sesame seeds.