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Jun 22, 2007 03:03 PM

Tahini (sesame paste)...a key ingrediant?

This was the only ingrediant I could not find for the Szechuan Noodles I'm making tonight. So, I've made the sauce using Ina Garten's recipe, but without the tahini. Went to three different markets looking for the tahini. Instead, I used a bit of Sweet Ginger Sesame Grill Sauce made by House of Tsang. The sauce I made has fresh ginger, sesame oil, etc. in it, anyway. It tastes pretty good, but I'm just wondering how important the tahini would have been. I suppose the character of the sauce will be altered somewhat, but will there be a big difference in the integrity of my dish?

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  1. In the integrity? Your sauce may lack a little body. If there are no allergies, you can subsitute peanut butter -- it won't have quite the same taste, but it will be a lot closer than the grill sauce.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Das Ubergeek

      The sauce already has peanut butter in it...1/2 cup. In fact, I thought the peanut butter taste was too strong, and had made a note in the recipe to cut it back next time. So, do you think the taste of the it should actually taste....will not be that much different without the tahini? At any rate, thanks for the quick reply! I guess we'll see how it all goes, when I serve the completed dish later.

      1. re: cookingschool

        I always make hummus when I'm in a pinch and companys coming. I just use a little sesame oil in place of some of the olive oil and a couple of heaping teaspoons of almond butter. It gives it a nice thick consistancy and all the nutty flavor. Besides I usually have it in the pantry so it saves making another trip to the store.

    2. I make hummus without tahini, substituting toasted sesame seed oil. No one has noticed that I don't use tahini.

      5 Replies
      1. re: Alan408

        Great! The recipe called for sesame seed oil, which I did have. And, I actually added some black sesame seeds, which I toasted. Glad to hear your dish was successful without the tahini. Thanks for the reply!

        1. re: Alan408

          Do you substitute the same amount of sesame oil as tahini in recipes?

          1. re: OldDog

            I'm wondering about this, too, as my recipe called for 1/2 cup tahini. That was a substantial amount,porportionally, to the other ingrediants. It seems like 1/2 cup of sesame oil would be an awful lot!

            1. re: cookingschool

              It would be an awful lot. Try adding one tablespoon sesame oil, then taste. You may or may not decide to add more. Also, if you can get regular sesame seeds and have one of those great little Braun spice/coffee grinders, you may be able to grind them finely to approximate the texture they add. It won't be exactly the same, but...

              1. re: Louise

                I like your ideas, too. I do have a spice grinder (dedicated) and I can find the sesame seeds. Thanks very much!

        2. Do yourself a favor and go to your local Chinese market to buy "sesame paste," sometimes translated as "Chinese salad dressing." That is what should go into Sesame Noodles. Tahini is a more widely available substitute, paler and with a different texture, and if your recipe calls for it, it is not exactly authentic.

          4 Replies
          1. re: janeer

            Thanks, everyone! I have a better understanding, now, of what I can substitute, if necessary. It's a challenge living where I do, sometimes. Many ethnic products are difficult to find. We have no Chinese markets, for example. The one big "gourmet" market here, Market Street, is about it. If they don't have it, it can't be had in these parts. We drive over to Dallas about four times a year, and I try to stock up, then! Happy weekend, all!

            1. re: cookingschool

              the other thing you can try is Japanese nerigoma which is similar to tahini but it is made from toasted sesame seeds, not untoasted sesame seeds like tahini.

              1. re: Yukari

                I'm making note of this. I appreciate you!

              2. re: cookingschool

                I live in a very rural area, but I can get fresh tahini in a local health food store. It is becoming more widely available because if the increase in nut allergies.

            2. Tahini is easy to make. For Chinese recipes like sesame noodles, toast the seeds, gind (I use a food processor) and stream sesame oil into it until it is the texture of peanut butter. If you want the light tahini as in Greek or Persian foods, don't toast the seeds and use olive oil.
              I made some two years ago and forgot about it in the back of a fridge drawer and used it tonight, it's perfect. I would use at least two cups of seeds and then just store it so it's always on hand. The flavor is wonderful after it sits a while. I can eat the toasted variety by the spoonful and love it on sauteed green beans.

              8 Replies
              1. re: ccstarrs

                Thanks so much. This sounds easy. I'll make it up and keep it stored in the fridge as you did. I also think it sounds great to use on green beans, which I love anyway!

                1. re: ccstarrs

                  Whoa, I disagree big time on the rec to Not toast the seeds. Untoasted seeds result in a tasteless tahini - very evil, evil, evil - you will use too much and add needless calories.
                  If the roasted tahini tastes too strong, well then, use a little less.
                  Since I'm peanut allergic, sometimes I'll substitute roasted tahini for PB.
                  Now I AM interested in the flavor difference between good tahini and chinese style sesame paste (never bought the latter); the ingredient list looks the same, right?.

                  1. re: DiveFan

                    It's a matter of taste. One uses olive oil while the other sesame. That difference alone will make it two distinctly different products. I am making a batch of tahini tomorrow using lightly toasted seeds and I will let you know. I do tend to toast the Chinese paste much darker.

                    1. re: DiveFan

                      Hmm, I've never seen a recipe for tahini paste nor a commercial product using olive oil, guess I'll have to look around. Tahini based sauce is another matter :-).
                      I was interested in comparing Middle Eastern and Chinese style commercial products since my kind of tahini paste is getting harder to find. Thanks.

                      1. re: DiveFan

                        In actuality, tahini is a seed butter made the same way as peanut butter. You process the seeds until they form a paste. Some people (myself included) like the thinner version so we use the olive oil to thin it out. It gives it a thick mayo texture instead of a hard, thick paste. I would love to see your recipes for tahini paste and compare to what I have. Will you be kind enough to post them? You mentioned the recipes you've seen do not have olive oil. What do they have?
                        Here are some sites with the olive oil as an ingredient. For the record, I drizzle the olive oil until I get the consistency I want, no where near the amount in this recipe.

                        The Greek, Chinese, and Middle Eastern recipes all have slight variations that suit their recipes. The olive oil version would mean nothing in a bowl of cold sesame noodles and the Chinese version would over power a Shawarma and make it inedible.
                        If you want to soak your seeds to remove the hulls, making them softer, you can make it as a paste with no other ingredient.

                        1. re: DiveFan

                          Actually I've never felt the need to make tahini paste myself. I don't have a food processor and sesame oil always seems more expensive than a jar of tahini paste. It must be pretty messy to make.
                          I've haven't come across (or really looked for) a 'Greek' tahini paste recipe - so far they all look like the ones above or this one:

                          My extremely limited selection of Greek cookbooks don't have any recipes containing tahini, and I don't remember having tahini in Greek restos.
                          What Greek dishes use tahini? Falafels don't count. Inquiring minds want to know :-).

                          1. re: DiveFan

                            I'm sorry, I must have misunderstood your post re: recipes and ingredients.

                            As far as greek recipes go, their hummus is made with tahini and they use the olive oil. Each region has soemthing different to add to basically the same foods. It's very interesting. For example, falafels are made with chic peas in Israel but in Egypt they mix chics with favas and add cilantro. Greeks use olive oil in everything and Chinese on nothing.

                            Making the paste is the easiest thing in the kitchen. You toast the seeds, pour in a processor and turn it on. I just drizzle the oil in and then use a spatula to remove. No mess at all and you get to lick the spoon!

                            As far as whether sesame oil is woth the price...OMG, YES!! I love it on almost everything. I make a neat crust for my chicken breast with sesame seeds and sesame oil. I butterfy it and stuff with roasted peppers and spinach, then make a crust out of toasted s seeds and drizzle the oil over. It's just about 15 minutes to heaven.

                      2. You can always get tahini at 1) any market selling Middle Eastern groceries; 2) WholeFoods; 3) Trader Joe's.