Available in either light and untoasted or dark and toasted varieties, sesame oil adds nutty flavor to foods when you use it in addition to other oils or instead of other oils in cooking. With 420 degrees Fahrenheit as its smoke point, the temperature at which the oil begins to smoke and give food a burnt taste, sesame works particularly well for sauteing and frying.
In addition to cooking with sesame oil, add a drizzle of the oil over foods for an extra burst of flavor at the end of cooking just before serving.
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Sauteing and Pan-Frying
Use only sesame oil when you stir-fry to help ensure that the nutty taste permeates your food, or use 1 part sesame oil and 1 part a neutral vegetable oil, such as canola or safflower oil. Because you use less oil when you stir-fry than you do when you deep-fry, 1 to 2 tablespoons, sesame oil is an economical choice. It works well with a variety of different foods:
- Vegetable side dishes, such as snow peas, Swiss chard, broccoli or kale, take on an Asian twist with sesame oil, sliced or minced garlic and a few tablespoons of chicken stock. Cook the vegetables on high heat, stirring frequently for 3 to 4 minutes until they're crisp-tender, and you can pierce them with the tip of a sharp knife.
- Stir-fries, whether vegetarian, meat, poultry or fish, have a flavor boost with sesame oil used for cooking and drizzled over the top of the stir-fry after cooking.
- Pan-fried steaks, hamburgers, chicken or fish get a hint of extra flavor when you use 1 tablespoon of sesame oil instead of a vegetable oil.
Store an opened bottle of sesame oil in the refrigerator to reduce the chances of the oil turning rancid as it ages. The oil stays good for up to 1 year in the refrigerator.
Any fried food you normally cook develops hints of sesame flavor when you replace part of your regular oil with sesame oil. Add anywhere from 30 percent to just a few tablespoons of sesame oil to the oil you use for deep-frying. If you reuse oil for deep-frying, scoop out any bits of food so it doesn't turn rancid and give your next batch off-tastes. Experiment with these deep-fried foods:
- Japanese tempura, a Japanese specialty of batter-fried fish, meat or vegetables
- Sweet potatoes or white potato fries
- Indian fried pakora, fish or vegetables dipped in a batter made with chickpea flour
When deep-frying, cook those ingredients without a batter or crumb coating first and those with a batter last to help keep the oil clean.
Sesame oil works well as an ingredient in recipes, in addition to its use in cooking. Use a few teaspoons in Asian-inspired salad dressings; in marinades for meat, poultry or fish; and in vegan baking as a substitute for butter.