Give your dishes an exciting flavour oomph with 8 amazing Asian dipping sauces!
We all love Korean cuisine for the unique delectable flavours and richly enticing aroma. The secret ingredient for the latter is roasted sesame oil. But while other cuisines most often feature sesame oil as a finishing touch, Koreans have many more uses for the fragrant, delicious oil.
History of Korean sesame oil
Sesame is one of the oldest cultivated crops in Asia. Anthropological evidence suggests the plant had arrived in Korea around 3,000 BC. In the following millennia, sesame seeds and sesame oil gradually became a part of Korean culture. So much so that beyond cooking, sesame oil also has many traditional medicinal uses.
Roasted sesame oil reached the height of recognition and subsequent popularity during the Joseon dynasty, after the 21st King Yeong-Jo tasted it in his imperial dishes, and instantly fell in love with the rich, nutty flavour. However, sesame oil making was arduously hand-milled back then, and quite difficult to mass produce.
Korean manufacturers and local artisans nowadays produce their own premium roasted sesame oil that some foodies would attest is uniquely delicious like no other.
‘Regular’ sesame oil VS Korean sesame oil
There are generally 2 types of sesame oil: unroasted and roasted. Unroasted or ‘regular’ sesame oil has a very light yellow colour and mild aroma. Roasted sesame oil is more vibrant with a rich amber hue, exudes an appetizing nutty fragrance with a subtle smoky edge, and imparts a buttery touch to your dishes. The deeper the amber colour, the stronger the flavour and aroma.
As the Korean palate prefers bold tastes, roasted sesame oil is absolutely beloved by chefs and home-cooks alike. In fact, roasted sesame oil is considered a core aromatic ingredient in authentic Korean cooking, known as Chamgireum.
Roasted sesame oil in Korean culinary
In Korean cooking, roasted sesame oil is used in sauce-blends, marinades, seasoning and finishing drizzle. Besides the aforementioned nutty aroma, the pleasant soothing taste of roasted sesame oil is also perfect to temper the spicy flavours in Korean dishes. Here are some delish uses for you to explore:
Marinade for meats
Paired with soy sauce and cooking wine, roasted sesame oil imbues your marinates with its flavourful aroma that accentuates and enriches the natural taste of meats. Best exemplified in Korean Bulgogi barbecued beef. A scrumptious savoury indulgence that will have you wanting more with every bite. Make it fresh in this Beef Bulgogi Bibimbap recipe!
Don’t miss the classic Korean fried chicken, with a spicy marinade made extra fragrant with sesame oil.
Stir fry flavour-booster
Roasted sesame oil is nutty and delicious, try adding in a dash of it during stir-fries for your seasoning and it will instantly boost your dish’s allure – by imbuing its rich aroma into any meat, seafood and veggies you’re cooking, and yet never outshines their flavours. Try it in the beloved Korean stir-fried potato noodles Japchae. Have a crunchy savoury meal with this yummy and wholesome stir-fried Korean rice cakes. Or enjoy an easy spicy quick meal with the classic Kimchi fried rice.
Enrich your soups and braises
Similar to stir-fries, roasted sesame oil enriches the flavours of Korean soups and braised dishes, and accentuates your main ingredients. Excite and warm your taste-buds with the sumptuous Korean seafood hot pot Sundubu Jigae, or the slurp-licious traditional spicy Korean beef soup Yukgaejang. Also enjoy the sublime slow-cooked savoury flavours of this Korean braised beef special.
Taste-giver for veggie sides
Roasted sesame oil is the ultimate universal flavouring for Korean banchan side dishes. Come check out all the crunchy wholesome yummies you can make!
Aroma oomph for Korean dipping sauce
Blending roasted sesame oil with other sauces and condiments can make fragrant, delish blends for your dip sauces. For this Korean deep-fried pork delight, a simple blend of sugar, soy sauce, white vinegar and roasted sesame oil enriches the savoury flavours. The signature Ssamjang dip sauce for Korean barbecue is also made fragrant with roasted sesame oil, while tempering the chilli and gochujang spiciness.
Fragrant finishing touch
Add a dash of roasted sesame oil at the end of pretty much any dish you cook, and instantly boost the aroma and flavour. You can even use it cross-cuisines or in your salads. So drizzle away!
About Ottogi 100% Pure Roasted Sesame Oil
Ottogi is the premium Korean roasted sesame oil, with a rich, deep nutty aroma, velvety smooth texture and a yummy smoky touch. Perfect for giving your home-cooked Korean dishes that authentic tasteful fragrance. Available at Asian supermarkets near you.