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Is all tahini the same?

Sorry. I got my info from the NY Times:

By MELISSA CLARK
Published: November 29, 2000

Q. What is Asian sesame paste? Is it different from the Middle Eastern sesame paste called tahini? Where can I buy it?

A. Asian sesame paste is different from tahini, and they are not interchangeable. While both are made from ground sesame seeds, the Asian paste uses toasted seeds and tahini raw ones. As a result, the Asian product has a potent, nutty flavor and a grainy texture similar to natural peanut butter; the tahini is mild and creamy.

Asian sesame paste is usually thinned with liquid or oil, then used to dress noodles, salads and vegetables. It is available in Asian and specialty markets, including Katagiri (224 East 59th Street; 212-755-3566) for $6.15 for a 5.2-ounce jar.

Sep 01, 2014
nancyfc in General Topics

Emson Pressure Smoker.

I think I first saw it at http://www.savorsa.com/2011/07/ask-a-... Now that I have looked into it a little more, I see that your 170 degree figure is from research (for instance http://www.cabdirect.org/abstracts/19...) which is in the Celsius scale, converting to about 338 degrees Fahrenheit. Cooking methods like that for my stove-top ratatouille would produce temperatures around boiling point of water while there was still liquid in the pot, considerably below 338 degrees. I doubt that even roasting in a very hot oven or on a grill would raise the average internal temperature of an eggplant anywhere near 338 degrees before it was incinerated, so I guess one can safely say that cooking will not have the effect of eliminating bitterness.

Emson Pressure Smoker.

I have read that solanine does not break down with heat (and can personally attest that a big pot of ratatouille I made as a beginning cook had to be thrown out because it was inedibly bitter, despite having salted the eggplant), but it does dissolve in the water or fat in which a vegetable is cooked. If a green potato is boiled or fried, draining the cooking liquid containing the dissolved alkaloid should remove the bitterness. Eggplant, however, is virtually never boiled, and when fried, absorbs oil like a sponge.

Is all tahini the same?

Tahini and Asian sesame paste are both made from sesame seeds, but the seeds in tahini are not roasted. The roasted seeds in Asian sesame paste give it a peanut-butter taste. If you don't like the taste of one, you could substitute the other, but the resulting hummus or babaganoush won't taste the way it is traditionally supposed to taste. Other nut butters, like almond or cashew, could also be substituted.

I find that all these products tend to separate solids from oil in storage, but I have found an easy way to mix them back together. My Hamilton Beach electric hand mixer came with a "milkshake mixer" attachment, a circular blade 1 7/8" in diameter on the end of a stalk, which plugs into one of the beater slots. This little mixing blade can fit into the top of the tahini jar, and mix the seed/nut solids and oil back into a smooth suspension right in the jar. Some KitchenAid hand mixers also have something similar, called liquid blender rod attachment, but those mixers have only 145 watts of power, and possibly may not be up to the job of dealing with the thick solids.

Sep 01, 2014
nancyfc in General Topics

Emson Pressure Smoker.

Absolutely. I have never had a problem with bitterness with Japanese eggplants (nor have I ever bothered to salt them before cooking). It it worth seeking out an Asian market, since regular groceries often don't carry them. Some info on the web implies immature eggplants may be bitter, but I often buy a basket of tiny (no more than 6" long and 1" in diameter, but totally purple) Japanese eggplants at the farmers' market, and they've always been great.

I don't think a pH change due to smoke has anything to do with it. Eggplants are nightshades, and like potatoes which have turned green from exposure to the sun, plants in that family may produce bitter alkaloids.

Emson Pressure Smoker.

In my experience (with a Weber charcoal smoker -- I'm new to the Emson, and was checking this post for more info), smoked eggplant makes absolutely the best baba ganoush. I usually use Japanese eggplants, the long, skinny ones, which would fit better in the little Emson than the big Italian ones. Wash, cut off the stem and blossom ends, cut them crosswise into lengths that will fit in the Emson, and hot smoke them. When cool, place them in a plastic bag overnight, or at least a while, in the fridge. They will soften and produce a bit of liquid. Dump the contents of the bag into a food processor (I don't peel mine), and add the usual lemon juice, tahini, garlic, cumin, Tabasco, and maybe some yogurt, for a lighter version. With the Emson, you might add a little water from the smoker bottom to thin it, if necessary, and add to the smokiness.

Strawberry–Cream Cheese Frosting

Be sure to use regular, full-fat cream cheese. I asked someone to pick up cream cheese for me one time, and she bought reduced fat. No matter how much sugar was added,the frosting remained runny.

Nov 04, 2010
nancyfc in Recipes