"I'd like to be a kid again because naps were insisted, twirling in circles was acceptable and the only password I had to remember was open sesame." Adar Burks
The often-repeated phrase, "open sesame" came about due to the fact that sesame seeds burst open when they reach maturity. Sesame seeds are so much more than the inspiration for the phrase used by Ali Baba in the "Arabian Nights" tales. It is so much fun to say it though. Sesame seeds are magical in other ways as well. They very well may be the world's oldest condiment, enhancing dishes with their nutty flavor and subtle crunch for centuries.
The people of ancient Babylon used to mix sesame seeds with honey (halva). The women ate this mixture to prolong youth and beauty. Roman soldiers ate halva to increase strength and energy. I don't see why the men wouldn't also want to have youth and beauty and I know women want strength and energy. I am not sure if this is why people eat halva today, but why not? In addition to these ancient uses, sesame seeds have been widely studied for their health benefits today.
Honey Sesame Chicken with Asian Style Rice
Sesame seeds have been shown to decrease cholesterol. Studies have shown that they also help with diabetes, lower blood pressure, help get rid of gingivitis, and help to repair kidney damage. One study reveals that babies grow faster and healthier when massaged with sesame oil.
There are three ways I like to use sesame seeds in my kitchen. I use sesame oil when I cook Asian style dishes. I never thought about using this oil for massages; but, I might give that a try. Unfortunately, although I would love to be a few inches taller, I doubt I will grow anymore. I also use tahini or sesame paste. This is basically smashed up sesame seeds. I make a delicious sauce combining tahini with lemon juice, crushed garlic and lemon. I use this as a spread for sandwiches, as a dipping sauce or sometimes as a dressing. I also use tahini to make homemade hummus. I make hummus about once a week. It's so easy. In a food processor, you just combine about a tablespoon of tahini with a can of garbanzo beans. Then, add lemon and garlic. I always throw in whatever flavor I want. Sometimes, I had hot peppers or red bell peppers. Sometimes I add cilantro and cucumber. It's fun to play around with the flavors.
Finally, and this is where this weeks recipe comes into play, I like to toast sesame seeds and add them to different dishes. I throw them into all kinds of things. They are great on salads, broccoli, green beans, spinach, fish, beef, tofu and chicken. They would probably go well on any type of vegetable or meat. They are so easy to toast. You just heat up a little oil and let them brown in a skillet. It takes a few minutes. I find that eating them browned rather than raw, brings out the nutty flavor a little more. This week I made a honey sauce to go with the chicken and added the toasted sesame seeds at the end while the chicken baked in the oven. I also added a delicious version of Asian style rice to pour the chicken and sauce over. I used lots of really good flavors and vegetables to make it delicious. You can add or take away pretty much anything in this rice mixture. It's fun to make it how you like it. Feel like a kid again and play around. Heck, twirl around while you do it too if you like.
Honey Sesame Chicken with Asian Style Rice
Time: 1 hour
Asian Style Rice:
1 Tablespoon sesame oil
1 onion, diced
1 stalk celery, sliced
1 cinnamon stick
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 stalk lemon grass, cut into three pieces (optional)
1 tablespoon ginger, sliced
2 cups Basmati brown rice (or whatever style rice you prefer)
3 cups vegetable broth
1 can water chestnuts (optional)
1 can mini corn (optional)
cup teriyaki sauce
Heat oil in a large pot (one that has a lid). Add the onion, celery, cinnamon stick, garlic, cloves, cardamom, lemon grass, and ginger. Saut this for about ten minutes. Add the rice. Pour in the stock. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and cover. Cook for thirty five minutes (or until the rice is tender). Add the water chestnuts and mini corn (if using). Add the teriyaki sauce and mix well.
Honey Sesame Chicken:
4 chicken breasts, cut into inch size pieces
salt and pepper
3 eggs, lightly beaten
cup canola oil
cup soy sauce
cup brown sugar
cup rice vinegar (white wine vinegar can be a substitute)
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon corn starch
2 tablespoons sesame seeds (optional), browned with 1 tablespoon canola oil
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Pour cornstarch into a small bowl. Place the gently beaten eggs into another bowl. Heat the canola oil to medium high heat. Place the chicken pieces into the cornstarch and then into the eggs. Then fry the chicken to brown it on all sides. Place the chicken into a greased baking dish. In a medium bowl, combine the honey, soy sauce, ketchup, brown sugar, rice vinegar, sesame oil, garlic, and cornstarch. Mix well. Pour this over the chicken. Place in the oven and bake for fifteen minutes (or until the chicken is cooked all of the way through). In a skillet, heat one-tablespoon canola oil. Add the sesame seeds and mix until browned. Pour this over the chicken five minutes after they are in the oven and mix all together with the sauce. Serve over the Asian style rice. Serve with steamed bok choy or broccoli.