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May 16, 2010 01:24 PM

White Sesame Seeds - Help Please!

I bought a package of white sesame seeds at the asian market near me. 4 oz for 89¢. Maybe not so great of a deal as I just read on the back of the package:


Can somebody explain to me why this is needed. I think I will throw them away before I attempt to boil them for 30 minutes, but in the off chance I do boil them, will I be able to toast them after?

I wanted to use them in the bulgogi recipe from Gourmet Today.

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  1. I once read an article that said raw sesame seeds could be eaten raw...not sure why you need to boil these first unless to kill some type of possible bacteria.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Cherylptw

      Yeah, it's very strange.

      In the last 15 minutes, I considered that they were 89¢ and a product of China, and decided that I will just throw them away. But I'm eager to hear any background any chowhound has.

      1. re: megmosa

        I wouldn't just throw them away; I'd hold on to them until I found out why the reason for the warning because it might just be a common warning on some Chinese and/or Asian products. You could post this question on the general board and maybe get some answers

    2. I have never seen that warning, and have never washed or boiled sesame seeds prior to toasting.
      Maybe you have whole seeds instead of the hulled? That may make a difference.

      4 Replies
      1. re: hannaone

        I'm pretty sure they are hulled. They are small and white and look just like the sesame seeds you find everywhere else. I could be wrong though.

        I googled part of the warning and saw that it has also been used on packages of Sichuan Peppercorns and black cardamom.

        1. re: megmosa

          I read somewhere, maybe here, that the import of Sichuan peppercorns has been banned due to some harmful bacteria (or harmful something) found on them.

          Not sure from where they might have been imported, but I bought some sesame seeds from the bulk bin at Whole Foods yesterday for a bit more-- $2.69/lb. I asked at WF about their pine nuts recently, as they weren't marked as to origin, and I was told they did come from China.

          1. re: nomadchowwoman

            Is this a new ban on these peppercorns, or the older one that was lifted in 2005, after suppliers agreed to heat the peppercorns to kill the citrus canker bacteria? As far as I know, they are available here now, I've seen them for sale at my favorite spice website, and I haven't heard of any recent ban reversal.

            Don't know about the sesame, possibly just an translation issue, or a real warning to cook before eating, to get rid of bacterial contamination. As brhau says, toasting will take care of any pesky bacteria. I wonder if sesame seeds imported from anywhere else would carry that warning.

            1. re: bushwickgirl

              I don't know. I can't remember exactly where this info was, but I read it very recently (that's why I was thinking it could have been on this site, but I can't find it)--and it was in a note attached to a recipe that called for sichuan peppers, explaining that the author had substituted some others b/c of a ban on sichuan. Maybe the recipe and info were old, but I can't even remember exactly what the recipe was for. If you've seen the imported ones for sale, the info was most likely dated. (I have a jar in my pantry; I'm not sure exactly how old they are, but I know I didn't buy them longer than a year or so ago.)

      2. It's a very odd warning, but you know--a lot of asian foods have strange things written on them (in english, anyway).

        As far as what to do with the sesame seeds, sorry to hear that you threw them away. You want to toast them anyway to get good flavor, and bacteria aint gonna survive toasting.

        1 Reply
        1. re: brhau

          Good to know...I haven't actually thrown them out yet.