Thursday, June 16, 2016

Condiment of the Week - Sesame Oil

Sesame oil is an edible vegetable oil derived from sesame seeds. Besides being used as a cooking oil
Sesame seed oil in clear glass vial
in South India, it is often used as a flavor enhancer in Korean, Chinese, Japanese, Middle Eastern, and Southeast Asian cuisine. It has a distinctive nutty aroma and taste.

The oil from the nutrient-rich seed is popular in alternative medicine, from traditional massages and treatments to the modern day.

The oil is popular in Asia and is also one of the earliest-known crop-based oils, but world-wide mass modern production continues to be limited even today due to the inefficient manual harvesting process required to extract the oil.

Sesame oil is composed of the following fatty acids: linoleic acid (41% of total), oleic acid (39%), palmitic acid (8%), stearic acid (5%) and others in small amounts.

Sesame seeds are protected by a capsule which only bursts when the seeds are completely ripe. The ripening time tends to vary, so farmers cut plants by hand and place them together in an upright position to continue ripening until all the capsules have opened. The discovery of an indehiscent (nonshattering) mutant by Langham in 1943 began the work towards development of a high yielding, shatter-resistant variety. Although researchers have made significant progress in sesame breeding, harvest losses due to shattering continue to limit domestic US production.

Sesame seeds are primarily produced in developing countries, a factor that has played a role in
White sesame seeds, mostly unshelled.
limiting the creation of large-scale, fully automated oil extraction and processing techniques. Sesame oil can be extracted by a number of methods, depending on the materials and equipment available.

In developing countries, sesame oil is often extracted with less-expensive and manually intensive techniques such as hot water flotation, bridge presses, ram presses, the ghani process, or by using a small-scale expeller. In developed countries sesame oil is often extracted using an expeller press, larger-scale oil extraction machines, or by pressing followed by chemical solvent extraction.

Sesame oil can also be extracted under low-temperature conditions using an expeller press in a process called cold pressing. This extraction method is popular among raw food adherents because it avoids exposing the oil to chemical solvents or high temperatures during extraction.

There are many variations in the color of sesame oil: cold-pressed sesame oil is pale yellow, while Indian sesame oil (gingelly or til oil) is golden, and East Asian sesame oils are commonly a dark brown color. This dark color and flavor are derived from roasted/toasted sesame seeds. Cold pressed sesame oil has a different flavor than the toasted oil, since it is produced directly from raw, rather than toasted, seeds.

Sesame oil is traded in any of the forms described above: Cold-pressed sesame oil is available in Western health shops. Unroasted (but not necessarily cold pressed) sesame oil is commonly used for cooking in the Middle East and can often be found in halal markets. In East Asian countries, different kinds of hot-pressed sesame oil are preferred.

The only essential nutrient having significant content in sesame oil is vitamin K, providing 17% of the Daily Value per 100 grams (ml) consumed supplying 884 calories. For fats, sesame oil is approximately equal in monounsaturated (oleic acid) and polyunsaturated (linoleic acid) fats, totaling together 80% of the fat content. The remaining oil content is primarily the saturated fat, palmitic acid (about 9% of total, table).

Despite sesame oil's high proportion (41%) of polyunsaturated (Omega-6) fatty acids, it is least prone, among cooking oils with high smoke points, to turn rancid when kept in the open. This is due
Bottling sesame oil 
to the natural antioxidants present in the oil.

Light sesame oil has a high smoke point and is suitable for deep-frying, while dark sesame oil (from roasted sesame seeds) has a slightly lower smoke point and is unsuitable for deep-frying. Instead it can be used for the stir frying of meats or vegetables, sautéing, or for the making of an omelette.

Sesame oil is most popular in Asia, especially in Korea, China, and the South Indian states of Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, and Tamil Nadu, where its widespread use is similar to that of olive oil in the Mediterranean.

East Asian cuisines often use roasted sesame oil for seasoning.
The Chinese use sesame oil in the preparation of meals.
In Japan, rāyu, is a paste made of chili-sesame oil seasoning - and used as a spicy topping on various foods - or mixed with vinegar and soy sauce - and used as a dip.
In South India - before the advent of modern refined oils produced on a large scale, sesame oil was used traditionally for curries and gravies. It continues to be used, particularly in Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh, mixed with foods that are hot and spicy as it neutralizes the heat. It is often mixed in with a special spice powder that accompanies Idly, dosa as well as rice mixed with spice powders ([Paruppu Podi]). It is also used in pickles and condiments mainly in Andhra Pradesh.

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