We have all toasted sesame seeds in a dry saute pan. Nothing to it, right?
That was my assumption as well, until a Korean friend showed me how Koreans roast their sesame seeds, which turned out to be an unanticipated revelation.
The method is simple enough. Akin to roasting coffee beans, sesame seeds are boiled in water, which moisturizes and plumps the seeds. Once the water has nearly evaporated the roasting begins in the same pan with continuous tossing of the seeds as the heat intensifies.
This method ensures evenly roasted seeds using just enough applied heat to release the essence of the seed’s without a hint of bitterness which, more often than not, occurs with dry toasting in a saute pan. A little more time and attention is required to nurture along the flavor of the sesame seeds, but well worth the effort.
Simply scattered over steamed brown rice is a simple meal in itself. or served with a spicy krapow moo (see here) is Thai perfection.
- 1 cup raw sesame seeds
- water to cover the seeds
Place the sesame seeds in a large heavy bottomed sauce pan. Add just enough water to cover the seeds. Place over medium heat and bring to a boil. Adjust to heat to a slow boil and stir until the water has nearly evaporated and the pan begins to dry out.
From this point onward you must continuously stir with a wooden spoon in tandem with occasionally tossing the seeds by a quick forward backward motion that flips the seeds over onto themselves. This produces very even toasting and coloring without scorching.
Continue as described, monitoring the heat and adjusting as needed while watching the color of the seeds carefully. The seeds will eventually turn a light golden color, which will take 10 to 15 minutes. Be patient and vigilant.
Once the seeds reach the perfect golden color and have a slightly sweet roasted aroma, promptly transfer the seeds to a large plate, spreading them out evenly over the entire surface. This will instantly stop the roasting. When cooled, you will have the best roasted sesame seeds you have ever tasted!
The seeds can be served as they are or coarsely ground in a suribachi (see note) using a wooden pestle along with flaked sea salt to be used as a condiment.
Note: Suribachi; a Japanese ceramic mortar with ridged interior used for grinding seeds and spices using a wooden pestle. Widely available in Asian/Japanese markets, specialty cooking shops, and online suppliers worldwide. An inexpensive and very handy tool for any cook to my mind.