Chilled fruits and vegetables, cool thin slices of pork, and a spicy sesame dipping sauce make a festive summer meal. The colors are beautiful and everything can be prepared ahead of time.
“Open sesame!” Seeds explode from the ripe pods on sesame plants. Depending on the cultivar, seeds will be ivory, golden, red, brown or black.
Info found online:
Flowers vary in color from white to pink to deep purple, and measure from five-eighths to 1.5 inches long (15-38 mm), are tubular, and suggest foxglove or Paulownia flowers. Yet they lack the generous abundance of foxglove and the exquisite fragrance of Paulownia. Each flower gives rise to a plump seed capsule that ultimately opens (open sesame) to release 50-80 (100) of its precious little seeds.
Although the annual plants can grow at daytime temperatures of about 10ºC, ideal conditions require 25ºC to 27ºC. Sesame plants grow up to 6 feet tall (200 cm) and can be harvested 90 to 150 days after planting. The largest producers are India, China, Myanmar, Sudan, Ethiopia, Uganda and Nigeria. In the U.S. small crops are grown commercially in Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas; less in Arizona, New Mexico and Missouri; thousands of tons of sesame oil is imported into from Guatemala, Mexico, and India.
The seeds are sprinkled on bread, cakes, cookies and crackers. Sesame butter, and a crushed seed paste called tahini are made from the seeds. Halvah is made using sesame oil, tahini, flour and honey. Unrefined sesame oil is best for flavoring food; refined oil is better for high-temperature cooking.
The oil is also used in soap making; in paints and inks; in cosmetics and perfumes; for pharmaceutical uses; as a lubricant; as an illuminant; and for anointing.
The Japanese Kitchen
•250 Recipes in a Traditional Spirit•
by Hiroko Shimbo
- 2 teaspoons sesame oil
- 1 to 1 ½ teaspoons toban jiang (Japanese chile-bean sauce)
- ¼ cup shoyu (soy sauce)
- 2 Tablespoons dashi
- 2 to 3 Tablespoons sugar
- 2 Tablespoons komezu (rice vinegar)
- 2 Tablespoons minced naganegi (Japanese long onion), or scallion
- 1 Tablespoon minced cilantro (coriander leaves)
In a small saucepan, heat the sesame oil until fragrant. Stir in the toban jiang. Add the soy sauce, dashi, and sugar. Cook, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. You’ll serve this sauce in small individual dishes, garnished with the onion and cilantro.
- 2 red bell peppers
- 2 zucchini
- 12 spears of asparagus
- vegetable oil and salt, for grilling
Broil, grill, or toast on a gas burner the red peppers. Place them in a paper bag to cool. Rub off the burnt skin. Cut open, remove stems, seeds, and ribs. Cut into strips.
Cut off the ends of the zucchini, slice in half lengthwise, the cut each half into strips.
Trim the ends of the asparagus and if needed, peel away tough skin.
Brush the zuke and asparagus with oil and sprinkle with a bit of salt. Broil until they begin to brown, turning once. When we ate this with chopsticks, I found the strips too long to eat, so next time I’ll cut them in half.
- 1 grapefruit, peeled and sectioned (remove the white rind and all of the membranes)
- 1 mango, peeled and sliced
- 2 kiwis, peeled and cut into disks
- 10 ounces boneless pork loin, sliced paper-thin (my knife skills reached to rather thick paper slices, but it was fine)
- a large pot of boiling water
- a large bowl of ice water
- a colander
With cooking chopsticks or tongs, cook each slice of meat individually until done. Plunge each slice into ice water, the drain in a colander.
Arrange the vegetables, the fruit, and the pork attractively on a platter. Provide a small plate and a small dish of the dipping sauce for each diner. Diners should use the blunt end of their own chopsticks to serve themselves. Or use a serving fork (or chopsticks) to take goodies from the platter.