I’ve always had an affinity for vintage things- clothes, furniture, pictures and food. I have a huge place in my heart for the ancient grain that is quinoa, but quinoa isn’t the only ancient food that deserves praise; sesame seed boasts its own vintage, being one of the oldest plants grown for its seed AND its oil.
Fun fact, sesame seed pods burst when they reach maturity, which is where the saying “open sesame” originated- you can always count on me for irrelevant trivia facts; but I digress.
Sesame seed contains about 50%-60% of a fatty oil that is characterized by two members of the lignan family, sesamin and sesamolin; when the sesame seed is refined, as in when making oil, two other phenolic antioxidants, sesamol and sesaminol, are formed. Confused? Let me break it down.
The lignans in sesame seed enhance vitamin E absorption and availability, improve lipid profiles and help balance blood pressure; and the BEST part is that sesame seed lignans enhance the burning of fat by increasing the activity of several liver enzymes that break down fatty acids. I’ll warn you that there are sesamin supplements available, but whether they offer the same benefits as the sesame seed remains to be seen; I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again, it’s best to acquire the nutrients from the source.
So what the heck is gomasio anyways? It’s a traditional Japanese condiment made from sesame seed and sea salt; and the literal translation is “salt and pepper”, which notes that tan and/or black sesame seed can be used. As with most condiments, gomasio can be purchased, but buyer beware; many commercial brands contain sugar. When it’s sooo simple to prepare, you are best to make your own.
Plain sesame seed gomasio is delicious, but sesame seed and salt lend themselves so well to alteration; which is why I added crispy basil and chili flakes. The sesame seed requires toasting in order to bring out the flavor of the seed, and you are welcome to toast the salt; but, in my opinion, it’s not necessary. In order to get the basil crispy enough to crumble, it needs to be fried and I used coconut oil because of its high smoke point; but I’ll warn you, basil burns black if you turn your back for even a second- so pay attention. Black sesame seed gomasio is perfect as a salad topping, a garnish on quinoa pasta, or used as a crust for fish; and I urge you to use it with wild abandon, as there aren’t many savory dishes that it doesn’t pair well with.
OPEN SESAME? Yeah, that sounds about right!
15 Thai basil leaves
2 tbsp coconut oil
1/4 cup black sesame seeds, toasted
3 tbsp sea salt
2 tbsp chili flakes.
In a saute pan on medium heat, melt the coconut oil; add the basil leaves and cook for 1 minutes, or until crisp- you will know when they are done. Remove from Place on a plate lined with paper towel; set aside and allow to cool.
Once cool, crumble the basil and combine with the sesame seed, sea salt and chili flakes. Keep refrigerated for up to 1 week.