Sesame Oil

By Katrin Koelle
Updated on 26. Jul. 2020

Light or dark, sesame oil is available for every taste and almost every culinary purpose. Read below to find out why the oldest edible oil in the world is still a culinary staple today.

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Sesame oil...

  • ...protects the heart and blood vessels. Sesame oil’s high content of monounsaturated fatty acids and unsaturated linoleic acid makes it a powerful preventer of harmful deposits in the arteries and heart diseases caused by them.
  • ...helps keep you healthy. Studies show that sesame oil strengthens the immune system.
  • ...has a long shelf life. Although sesame oil should be protected from light, air and heat during storage (like all vegetable oils), its antioxidants sesamol and sesamoline help keep it fresh for up to 1 year.
  • ...can lower cholesterol levels. If you have elevated cholesterol levels, consider integrating more sesame oil into your diet. The oil’s unsaturated fatty acids in help reduce high blood pressure.
  • ...is great for cold dishes in darker varieties. Dark sesame oil is pressed from roasted sesame seeds; it should therefore only be heated slightly, if at all. Dark sesame oil is perfect for salad dressings, cold dips or as a final seasoning when drizzled over cooked wok dishes, vegetables or soups.
  • ...is suitable for cooked dishes in lighter varieites. The refined light sesame oil does not have the typical sesame taste, but still has many healthy ingredients. In contrast to dark sesame oil, it is wonderfully suited for frying, deep-frying, grilling and baking.

What You Should Know About Sesame Oil

The wealth of high-quality fat in sesame seeds is said to have been used by our ancestors in ancient times. Nobody knows exactly when the light-coloured oil was first pressed from untreated sesame. What is certain is that at some point someone also came up with the culinary interesting idea of roasting the seeds beforehand, so that the oil pressed from them became very dark and extremely aromatic.

To this day, the dark variant in particular has about the same significance in many countries as butter does in ours. Especially in China, Japan and Arab countries it is hard to imagine everyday cooking without it. Asian dishes from wok and pan or the Japanese classic tempura get their special taste from the dark sesame oil from roasted sesame seeds.

Since the 70-100 seeds of the sesame seed capsules do not ripen at the same time, sesame is still harvested almost exclusively by hand in the main growing countries, especially India, China, Mexico and Sudan. 

Origins

Sesame oil is the oldest known consumed oil, and was first utilized in Africa. 

Flavor

Light sesame oil from unroasted seeds tastes very mild to almost neutral, whereas the dark oil from roasted seeds has an intense and spicy sesame aroma. Overall, cold-pressed sesame oils taste somewhat stronger than refined varieties.

Our Favorite Recipes with Sesame Oil

Find all our recipes with sesame oil here.

How Healthy is Sesame Oil?

Sesame oil contains about 44 percent polyunsaturated linoleic acid, which has a positive effect on blood clotting, strengthens the heart, lowers elevated blood fat levels, helps prevent osteoporosis and arteriosclerosis and strengthens the teeth. The high content of lecithin and choline in sesame oil also contributes to its beneficial effect on our health.

SESAME OIL Nutritional INFO (100 ml)  
Calories 896
Protein 0 g
Fat 99.5 g
Carbohydrates 0 g
Fiber 0 g

Shopping and Cooking Tips 

Purchasing

You can get light sesame oil in well-assorted supermarkets, but sometimes you have to look for dark sesame oil. Both should be available in most supermarkets, but if you're having trouble finding sesame oil, head to your nearest Asian foods store.

Storage

In terms of durability, sesame oil occupies a special position because, unlike other vegetable oils, air and light doesn't harm it as quickly as other oils. Thanks to the two antioxidants sesamol and sesamoline, even cold-pressed sesame oil takes a while to turn rancid. Store sesame oil in a dark and cool place, and it should stay fresh for up to a year.

What to Make With Sesame Oil

Light and neutral sesame oil can be used as a substitute for other oils in salads as well as in cooking, frying and baking. The aromatic-spicy dark sesame oil goes best with Asian dishes. Opinions differ on the question of whether cold-pressed dark sesame oil should be heated: on the one hand, heating the oil apparently increases the content of antioxidant sesamol, while on the other hand high temperatures destroy other valuable nutrients such as phytosterols. 

Sesame oil is also particularly good for adding a special touch to cooked foods such as vegetables, soups and rice dishes right at the end. Simply drizzle a small amount right before serving to add a delciate, flavorful bite to your dishes.

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