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Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
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Sunday, March 3

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Ingredient Thu Apr 09 2009

One Oil to Rule Them All

Think you know sesame oil? Think again. Sesame oil can be SO much better than what we are used to getting--if only we knew what to look for, and where.

For one, I thought I knew my sesame oil. I cook with it quite often, using it for stir-fry, drizzling it on chilled tofu, adding it to Asian salad dressing. I use so much that I buy a big can of Japanese sesame oil and always have it stashed away in a dark corner of my kitchen. Until I picked up an innocuous bottle of fresh sesame oil at the H Mart, I was totally happy with what I'd had all my life: a pale shadow of what sesame oil can be.

I suspect that the sesame oil I picked up at H Mart was freshly squeezed out of sesame seeds toasted right on the premise, as many stores in Korea reportedly do. The oil is a lot lighter in color than the Japanese industrial stuff I'm used to, though I'm not sure if it's because of different squeezing processes, freshness or purely different styles. But the truly amazing difference is in the texture and flavor. The freshly squeezed sesame oil has an exceptionally light, clean mouth feel that makes the regular sesame oil feel thick and heavy. (We tried both on little spoons.) And the flavor of the fresh one is stunning; as my husband puts it, it's "like the pure essence of sesame." The moment the fresh oil touches your tongue, little airy bubbles of toasted nuttiness burst in your mouth. It's a mystery that the fresh sesame oil can pack so much sesame-y character while remaining so light and clean, not at all oily even though it's oil (duh). After the experience with the fresh one, the industrial one tastes pitifully dull, muddied and flat.

The slim bottle of fresh squeezed sesame oil costs about $13. It's sort of like olive oil; you can get okay olive oil for cheap, but with a little bit more, you get fresh olive oil that has distinctive character and pleasing lightness. Just as I use cheap olive oil for cooking and keep the good one for drizzling, I will be perfectly content with using the industrial sesame oil for stir-fry, where the delicate flavor will be either burnt off or masked by other powerful-tasting ingredients. When it comes to simple preparations, though, my meals will be far better with this new discovery. We've already tried drizzling the fresh one on chilled tofu (ah, heaven!), and I'm excited to explore other lighter-touch possibilities, like namul (Korean vegetable dishes), salads and maybe even drizzling it on Ma Po tofu as a finishing touch.

H Mart Niles
801 Civic Center Drive
Niles, IL 60714

H Mart Naperville
1295 E. Ogden Avenue
Naperville, IL 60563

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G. Virucha / April 10, 2009 12:43 AM


Have you ever used Idhayam Brand Sesame Oil? If not, please try it. I have given their website. U will get a delighted experience I assure!

G. Virucha (Mrs.)

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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

The State of Food Writing

By Brandy Gonsoulin

In 2009, food blogging, social media and Yelp were gaining popularity, and America's revered gastronomic magazine Gourmet shuttered after 68 years in business. Former Cook's Illustrated editor-in-chief Chris Kimball followed with an editorial, stating that "The shuttering of Gourmet reminds...
Read this feature »

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