When you think of tahini, it's all about middle eastern cuisine, right? For sauces, hummus, and even cookies, it gives everything a nice sesame flavor. Although it has an exotic name (sounds like a beach in tropical island, doesn't it?), it's basically just sesame paste.
You can buy sesame paste at the Japanese grocery stores here, but it's very pricey. Japanese use a lot of sesame in cooking as well, from sesame tofu, to dipping sauce, to sweets. Sometimes you will find black sesame pudding, or black sesame creme brulee on the dessert menu at Japanese restaurants. Sakagura in NYC has some of the BEST Japan-inspired desserts, which includes very good black sesame creme brulee with tea ice cream. Brilliant.
At the end of the day, tahini is also just sesame paste, but with oil added into it. Regular sesame paste is just purely ground sesame. You can make your own sesame paste by grinding the sesame slowly for an hour or so, since quick grinding gives out too much oil. As a part of Buddhist training or discipline, they are required to grind sesame manually. The tedious action is meditating, I guess. I would die if I had to grind sesame for an hour though.
My friend told me she was making tahini tofu, instead of sesame tofu, and I thought it was a brilliant substitution. However, due to a strict confidentiality agreement between her and her cooking class teacher, I am not allowed to post the recipe for it. So I decided to make tahini pudding instead.
Anyhow, this recipe is pretty easy.
100 gram of Tahini
1/4 cup of hot water
300 ml milk
100 ml heavy cream
Half packet of gelatin (if you like more solid, you can add more)
1. Sprinkle gelatin in a tbsp water and set aside.
2. Mix tahini and hot water well.
3. Heat milk and sugar together, but DO NOT BOIL. Once the sugar melts, and right before it boils, take off the heat, mix it into the tahini mixture slowly, and mix well.
4. Add gelatin, mix well.
5. Strain twice.
6. Add cream and vanilla extract, mix well.
7. Strain again.
8. Pour it into a cup or ramekin, chill it for 8 hours.
This makes very jiggly booby pudding. It's barely solid, but it is solid. The sesame flavor is strong and it tastes nutty.
It is always fun to make traditional Japanese food, using something we can easily obtain here in the States. Tahini is also great for making shabu-shabu dipping sauce. Mix it with soy sauce, vinegar, dashi and sugar, it makes a lot better than store bought ones.