Monday, January 9, 2012

Toe-Curling Flavors #1 - Toasted Sesame Oil

New series! I spend a lot of my time thinking about how to be a better person, and how to make the world a better place. But other times I just want to enjoy something amazing. In this series I'm going to focus on food. Sweet, savory, biting, briny, bordellos for the taste buds, bring it on!  Let's face it, even for the most randy among us, we are all going to eat a heck of a lot more often than we are ever going to have sex. Why not make it a phenomenal experience!

To an earlier incarnation of my life I worked for about a decade in the restaurant industry, culminating in a stint as a pastry/dessert chef. The most important thing that I learned
, outside of methods to combat the green bottle flu, was that flavors come in palettes. Like a painters colors, certain tastes go together, others don't. Focusing on ingredients, techniques or avenues that may be outside the purview of the average cook, I'm going to share some of what I have learned along that way. Today that means toasted sesame oil.

The work horse of asian cooking with a history as rich as its flavor, simply put, sesame oil is divine. In its many forms, refined, unrefined, light (color), and dark or toasted it can be used for everything from deep frying to the most delicate of salad dressings. My focus today, toasted sesame oil, is best suited to stir-frying, salad dressings, sauces and dips. It's also good with noodles! Yum.

Here lately I've been using it to feed my obsession with japanese restaurant salad dressing. The current version goes like this:

In the blender I dump...

3/4 C of toasted sesame oil
1/2 C of Rice Wine Vinegar
1 and 1/2 T of soy sauce (today was low salt variety, if you want more salt ahead and add some)
2t of honey
2 squirts (or 2T) of tomato paste or ketchup
2t Key Lime juice (I ran out of lemon juice)
1/2 teaspoon of minced garlic 
6 cranks of black pepper

On my cutting board I rough chop

A piece of fresh ginger bigger than my thumb
A stalk of celery
and 3/4 C of raw onion

I then dump all of that into the blender too. If the liquid level looks a little low at this point I also add a squirt of water. 

Blend that baby until well pureed. Pour off into glass salad dressing bottles and serve over leafy mercy just drink it straight! It's great.

By the by, you don't need a blender as expensive as the one linked below (I caught a lucky break in getting it), but if you use one a lot I can recommend this one.

Also, the one caveat to this recipe is the same one you already know about eating raw onions. Onion breath. The next time I make it I'm planning on sauteing the onion and celery. I'll put an update on this post with the results.

Enjoy down to your toes!

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