Thursday, March 5, 2009

What is Tahina?

In the last couple of years I have become fond of a very specific condiment.  This flavor enhancer hails from the East and except for a few falafel places, it is not widely used in the western world.  
After two years of experimental concoctions, I have come to the realization that it is probably one of the most diverse and useful ingredients that someone could use when cooking.  It can be used in desserts, on salads, in marinades, in soups, on meats, and just enjoyed as a great dip.  

This great thing, as you have probably already guessed it is tahina and it is more then just a sauce for falafel and shwarma.  So what exactly is Tahina?

Tahina Defined

Tahinitahinetehina, or sesame paste is a paste of ground sesame seeds used in cooking. Middle Eastern tahini is made of hulled, lightly roasted seeds. East Asian sesame paste is made of unhulled seeds.

Tahini is a major component of hummus bi tahini and other Middle Eastern foods. It is sold fresh or dehydrated.

Sesame paste is an ingredient in some ChineseKorean, and Japanese dishes; it is a key ingredient of the Szechuan dish Dan dan noodles. Because East Asian sesame paste is made from unhulled seeds, it is more bitter than tahini, and higher in some nutrients.

For the next year I will go on a mission to use sesame seed paste in as many different ways that are possible and show the world that this is better then mayonnaise, ketchup, and soy sauce combined.  (I will also see how I can incorporate those three items with tahina as well..)

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