Tahini is a rich, nutty and aromatic paste made from generously toasted and ground white sesame seeds. It is primarily used as an ingredient in Chinese and Taiwanese cuisine, including iconic dishes such as Taiwanese Cold Noodles and Szechuan Dan Dan Noodles (Dandan Noodles).
Chinese sesame paste is a rich, nutty and aromatic paste made from generously toasted and ground white sesame seeds mixed with oil. Some versions are made with pure sesame seeds, while others are blended with up to 50% peanuts. If you love this sauce, don’t miss this easy sesame paste recipe.
In a nutshell, the taste of Chinese sesame paste:
Nutty and aromatic – similar to sesame oil
Thick and rich – it coats the mouth in a nice way (kind of like good quality peanut butter)
Slightly bitter – has a slight bitter taste you won’t get from other substitutes
Some ways to use this Chinese sesame paste recipe:
Taiwanese Cold Noodles (liang mian, cold noodles) – a classic Taiwanese dish that originally introduced me to Sesame Jiang, where the paste is really the star of the dish. Chinese sesame paste is mixed with some flavor boosters and seasonings (garlic, soy sauce, black vinegar) to make a rich sauce. Then spread it on freshly cooked noodles and bean sprouts!
Dan Dan Mian (Dan Dan Mian) – a world-famous Sichuan dish. While the main attraction is arguably the spicy red sauce, topped with numbing Sichuan peppercorns, a dose of Chinese sesame sauce is also added to give the dish even more depth (and a beautiful mottled creamy appearance).
Easy Chinese Sesame Paste Recipe
- 250 g hulled white sesame seeds
- 150 ml neutral oil e.g. groundnut, vegetable, sunflower
- 30 ml sesame oil
- ½ tsp flaky salt
- Start by roasting your sesame seeds. Place a non-stick pan on a medium-high heat and, when hot, add all the sesame seeds. Toast the seeds, moving them about regularly with a spoon. You should hear a bit of sizzling and popping after a few minutes – keep a close eye and keep moving them with a spoon at this point, as they can burn quite quickly if ignored. Once the seeds have darkened slightly and smell toasty (it took me about 5 minutes to reach this point), take them off the heat to cool for a minute or two.
- Once the seeds have cooled slightly, tip them into a food processor and blend on the highest setting until you can see that most of the seeds have broken up. Then with the motor still running, slowly drizzle in the neutral oil. It should incorporate and begin to form a smooth, oily paste.
- Once all of the neutral oil has been added, boost the sesame flavour and season by adding in the sesame oil and salt.
- Give one final blend to incorporate and then taste for seasoning and consistency. The paste should be slightly salty and strongly aromatic from the sesame. The consistency is personal preference. My favourite bowl of Taiwanese cold noodles had a slightly rustic texture, but if you want it smoother, just run the motor for a bit longer.
- Pour the final paste into a clean jar (preferably sterilized) and keep refrigerated. Under these conditions, the paste should last for at least a month (most likely longer – but always check before using!).