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Jan 12, 2008 03:35 PM

Question about sesame oil [Moved from Home Cooking board]

I read all the time about people cooking with sesame oil, but I've heard a number of times on cooking shows that it's not really a cooking oil, but rather more of a condiment. Are there two kinds of sesame oil? We were at an Asian market and we saw little tiny bottles of it and big one-gallon cans of it, so I wasn't sure if maybe there were different kinds. We have a small bottle in our pantry, but I'm unsure as to how to use it. Thanks!

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  1. Open the bottle in your cupboard and taste it. Is it dark coloured and strong flavoured? That's for seasoning, after the dish is cooked. Actually, so is the light, but it's a gentler taste. There are different kinds, yes, some mixed with other oils. I get the dark oil for condiment. I never use it for cooking. It costs way too much. The early cooking show experts, Martin Yan, Michael Yan, and others who I can't remember right now, all said the same thing...the good flavour will cook out with the excessive heat of stir frying. A quick sprinkle across the dish just before serving, same as a handful of chopped green onions, as garnish, I find, is the very best way to use it.
    (I will sometimes just take a bowl of rice, pour a little sesame oil, and a little light soy sauce and eat it as a snack, or breakfast or....)


    1. The little bottles are more likely to be flavoring oil. The larger containers can be either flavoring oil or a cooking blend. The blend usually says sesame oil in large print and "soybean/sesame oil" or "blended soybean and sesame oils" or some variation.

      1. Toasted sesame oil is used for finishing dishes. Sesame oil per se is another cooking oil.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Sam Fujisaka

          Wouldn't you say that the toasted sesame oil can be strong tasting? So you want to use it in a measured way. At least know what a little is going to taste like before you add a lot.

          1. re: karykat

            There are so many types of sesame oil now that you should taste before you use.
            In general, the darker the oil the stronger the flavor. (Except for black sesame seed oil which I believe starts dark).
            Of the dark oils you have toasted and roasted, I'm not completely sure of the difference other than the oils labeled roasted seem to be generally (but not always) darker than the ones labeled toasted.
            Labels that say "pure" are straight sesame, while others are, or may be, blends.
            Then you have organic, refined, natural, cold pressed .....

        2. So if I were in the market and wanted to look for cooking sesame oil, I should look for something light and a blend? I dated a guy a while back who made me something cooked in sesame oil and I loved the flavor. I just didn't think the tiny little bottle in my pantry was quite the same thing. I usually use peanut oil when cooking Asian foods, but would like to experiment with sesame.

          1 Reply
          1. re: tara17

            The tiny bottles are generally used for dressings or as finishing oils. You do the actual cooking - stir fry or whatever style - and add the oil near the end for the flavor.
            Some blends are also labeled as salad oil but may be used for light cooking. It will really depend on what dish you are making.
            For stir fry dishes we did in my restaurant we used a light coating of blended sesame/soy bean oil with good results, adding roasted sesame oil at the end (last 30 seconds or so) to give the dish the sesame flavor.
            We also used the roasted oil in marinades, vegetable dressings, and dipping sauces.

          2. I love sesame oil. I buy the smaller bottle and have used it only to cook with. Chop some cabbage, fry some ground pork & onions/ginger, add rice wine vinegar & sesame oil. HEAVEN! It's like eating the inside of a dumpling.
            Think I will make some today!

            3 Replies
            1. re: stellamystar

              stella, you are brilliant! why bother with the wrappers????

              1. re: alkapal

                alkapal - the small bottles of toasted/rasted sesame oil should only be used for flavoring, and I think stella was delineating that. Don't fry with it!

                boogiebaby (below) might have something to say about the cooking oil aspect of sesame oil (and where to find pure pressed sesame oil), but for most of us, those little bottles of toasty goodness are not good for anything other than flavoring...and flavoring well.


                1. re: cayjohan

                  thanks cay, i know that toasted sesame is only for flavoring. and it is one of my favorites. stella's recipe just sounded so easy and tasty! i'd use napa cabbage, but baby bok choy might be good with stella's deconstructed dumpling idea. now...i want it for breakfast! ;-)