You may have heard celebrity cooks referring to "toasted sesame oil" when cooking Chinese style dishes. But what is sesame oil, and what is meant by "toasted"?
The fruit of the sesame plant contains many tiny (3mm long) seeds; when ripe these are gathered and shaken from the surrounding capsule.
Small quantities are cold pressed to produce a pale yellow oil which is sold in Western health food shops as a food supplement for its natural anti-oxidants, for body massage and as a hair treatment. Cold pressed oil can also be used as frying fat, and has a high smoke point, but is rarely sold for this purpose as it is expensive alternative to other vegetable oils.
In Asian and Oriental countries the sesame seeds are toasted or dry roasted before pressing; this yields a darker, more flavoursome oil and is the type of oil we sell here at Oriental Food Shop.
Toasted sesame oil is best used as a dressing, and should be added towards the end of cooking for stir fried dishes. If you are making up the filling for wonton, a few drops added to the meat mixture will add an extra depth to the flavour. Finally, why not try sprinkling a few drops onto braised dishes or clear soups just before serving?