Open sesame

One of my new favourite foods is black sesame. It’s actually two foods, I guess: black sesame seeds and black sesame paste, both of which can be found at our closest Carrefour store, giving me another reason to keep crawling back in spite of its less-than-comfortable shopping environment.

Even with the odours of a neighbouring KFC hanging heavy in the stagnant mall air, the aroma of freshly ground sesame manages to make its way through the aisles, past the cashiers, and into my nostrils every time I walk past the store, luring me in. Inside, in the middle of the store, sits a little station displaying bottles of sesame oil and bags of various seeds, ground grains, and suchlike, as well as a machine that grinds sesame seeds into a paste — the source of the smell — that is funneled into plastic containers for immediate sale.

Having read about the nutritional properties of sesame seeds and been told it is believed (by the Chinese, at least) to improve hair health/colour, I picked up a bag of pre-toasted sesame seeds a few weeks back… and have been sprinkling the stuff on almost everything since.

Not sure if my hair is any different, but it has made many a savoury dish more interesting and textured and flavourful, and I feel better about showering a veggie dish with seeds than dousing it with its also immensely delicious — but likely more fattening and less fibrous — cousin, sesame oil. (I still use a lot of sesame oil though, just less :)

As I’ve also been looking for a replacement for peanut butter, the newborn sesame junkie in me dragged me back to Carrefour last weekend for some black sesame paste. Luckily for me, they had just finished making a new batch, so I was able to grab a fresh container of the stuff.

This sesame paste has a more subtle flavour than your average peanut butter — or even the sesame paste you find on supermarket shelves– and might be deemed too bland by some (Sean is sticking with his Skippy), but that’s because there’s nothing added — no salt, sugar, msg, hydrogenated oils. It does have the nutty fragrance and delightfully gooey, slightly grainy texture of natural peanut butter, making it a perfect match with honey on whole-wheat toast.

The tar-like paste might look kind of ominous, but it has become my favourite way to start the day, and its relatively high calorie content gives me energy for my bike commute. I have a feeling the stuff would also be delicious with noodles — I’ll keep you posted.

Where to find…

  • black sesame seeds: Carrefour, 17.8 RMB/300g bag (lasts ages)
  • fresh-ground black sesame seed paste: Carrefour, 33.8 RMB/500g
  • Mankattan brand whole-wheat high-fibre bread: Carrefour and Trust Mart (and prob. other large supermarkets), ~6 RMB/6-slice bag
  • Carrefour (Zhongshan Park store)
    B1-2/F, Cloud 9 Mall (龙之梦购物中心),
    1018 Changning Lu (长宁路), near Kaixuan Lu (凯旋路)

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