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KotW: Homemade Tahini. August 27, 2008

Posted by schizodigestive in Kip of the Week, quick & dirty, vegetarian.
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Eggplants, like so many vegetables, have become stunningly expensive in my neighborhood. So when they’re on sale I tend to buy quite a few… and that’s why I ended up needing to make baba ghanouj the other day. But I was out of tahini — the oily paste of finely ground sesame seeds that’s indispensable for Middle Eastern appetizers.

My usual supermarket had stopped carrying it. I went to Trader Joe’s and they didn’t have it, which was silly, because they had eight or nine kinds of peanut butter. I went to the supermarket I don’t go to, and they didn’t have it either, which was unnerving, because I think of this stuff as a staple. Then I said to myself, c’mon, scruffy, you know tahini doesn’t grow in tin cans on trees.

I bought half a pound of Mexican sesame seed, brought it home and started poking around for technique. This is what I came up with:

1 1/2 cups hulled white sesame seed
about 1 1/2 cups boiling water

Put the seed in a large measuring cup and pour the boiling water over it — it should just cover. Put a saucer over the top of the cup and leave it undisturbed for 45 minutes. All, or almost all, of the water should be absorbed. Drain off surplus water if any and put the soaked seed in a food processor with

1/4 teaspoon salt

Start the mixture spinning while you drizzle in

Five tablespoons light sesame oil, or a mixture of three tablespoons corn or canola oil with two tablespoons dark (Japanese) sesame oil

Process this for a good five to ten minutes. Pack it tightly in an airtight container and refrigerate. Your result won’t be as smooth as commercial tahini, because it won’t be as finely ground; but mine came out with hints of the seeds in it, a beautiful arctic white, and with absolutely profound flavor. Not only is this excellent recourse if you can’t find ready-made tahini at the market, but if you have a good source of bulk sesame seeds, it’s a whole lot cheaper!

© /KC August 2008

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