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China Food Myths


liuzhou
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  • 4 weeks later...

23. The Sesame Oil Surprise

 

118751835_sesameoil.thumb.jpg.c7e945b5310275b9c275dc233f132433.jpg

 

This was brought to my attention by a Chinese friend who had been looking at YouTube videos featuring Chinese recipes. She noticed that many, many recipes marinated their proteins in the usual soy sauce, Chinese cooking wine and the not at all usual, very surprising sesame oil. What further baffled her was that some (a larger than expected minority) of these recipes were from people who claimed to be of Chinese or other Asian ethnicities.

 

I reminded her that many ethnically Chinese people living in the diaspora have never actually been to China and can be very westernised and in any case being of a certain ethnicity does not make you an expert on its cuisine or even cooking it. I know many Chinese people here in China who can’t boil an egg or make rice. My friend is self-admittedly a basic level cook, but a star basketball player.

 

Her surprise came from her knowing that Chinese sesame oil is valued for its flavour and aroma, both of which are highly volatile and disappear when heated. So, in Chinese cuisine, it is only applied as a condiment when the dish is being served and then off the heat, or perhaps occasionally unheated in a dipping sauce. It couldn't possible survive the way these recipes treat it. They could have saved time and achieved the same results by just pouring the oil down the toilet and missing out the middle man.

I defy anyone to marinate two samples of marinaded meat, one with and one without sesame oil, then tell me blindfolded which is which after it is cooked.

 

And for the antipodean clown who bought a gallon jar of sesame oil, I hope you have a huge fridge because it rapidly goes rancid and loses flavour if stored unrefrigerated after opening. My bottte is 100ml, the standard size here.

Edited by liuzhou (log)
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...your dancing child with his Chinese suit.

 

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5 minutes ago, JoNorvelleWalker said:

I hope you were not expecting an argument.

 

 

I never post to promote arguments, but I'm sure some of the egotistical half-wits on YouTube would put up a fight.

Edited by liuzhou (log)
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10 hours ago, liuzhou said:

23. The Sesame Oil Surprise

 

118751835_sesameoil.thumb.jpg.c7e945b5310275b9c275dc233f132433.jpg

 

This was brought to my attention by a Chinese friend who had been looking at YouTube videos featuring Chinese recipes. She noticed that many, many recipes marinated their proteins in the usual soy sauce, Chinese cooking wine and the not at all usual, very surprising sesame oil. What further baffled her was that some (a larger than expected minority) of these recipes were from people who claimed to be of Chinese or other Asian ethnicities.

 

I reminded her that many ethnically Chinese people living in the diaspora have never actually been to China and can be very westernised and in any case being of a certain ethnicity does not make you an expert on its cuisine or even cooking it. I know many Chinese people here in China who can’t boil an egg or make rice. My friend is self-admittedly a basic level cook, but a star basketball player.

 

Her surprise came from her knowing that Chinese sesame oil is valued for its flavour and aroma, both of which are highly volatile and disappear when heated. So, in Chinese cuisine, it is only applied as a condiment when the dish is being served and then off the heat, or perhaps occasionally unheated in a dipping sauce. It couldn't possible survive the way these recipes treat it. They could have saved time and achieved the same results by just pouring the oil down the toilet and missing out the middle man.

I defy anyone to marinate two samples of marinaded meat, one with and one without sesame oil, then tell me blindfolded which is which after it is cooked.

 

And for the antipodean clown who bought a gallon far of sesame oil, I hope you have a huge fridge because it rapidly goes rancid and loses flavour if stored unrefrigerated after opening. My bottte is 100ml, the standard size here.

hear hear!!!  Whenever I see a recipe or video showing marinating in sesame oil, I run for the hills.

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14 minutes ago, KennethT said:

hear hear!!!  Whenever I see a recipe or video showing marinating in sesame oil, I run for the hills.

 

Yet even websites that should know better repeat the myth. It isn't just YouTube.

The Woks of Life, The Spruce Eats etc.

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59 minutes ago, liuzhou said:

 

Yet even websites that should know better repeat the myth. It isn't just YouTube.

The Woks of Life, The Spruce Eats etc.

It's true.  I've made a few things from Woks of Life and have been pretty happy with it - but I internally cringe when I see them doing that.  I understand adding some oil when marinating things - especially ground meats - I find it makes it easier to break up the clumps when they hit the wok - but using sesame oil is just a waste of money.

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  • 4 months later...
On 11/14/2020 at 5:09 AM, weinoo said:

Most "American" restaurants in the US (I'm not referring to big chains like Denny's/Applebee''s, et al.) forego salt & pepper on the table. 

That's because they used it all up in the food; at least the salt, and just a pepper shaker would look stupid.

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  • 1 month later...
Posted (edited)

In addition to my sesame oil surprise above, let me point out that we don't sprinkle sesame seeds on every dish. I fact we do so extremely rarely.

 

I have literally hundreds of photographs of dishes cooked here by home cooks, restaurants and a few from me. I've been looking through them and can't find any with sesame seeds on them.

Edited by liuzhou (log)

...your dancing child with his Chinese suit.

 

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On 4/6/2022 at 9:15 AM, liuzhou said:

In addition to my sesame oil surprise above, let me point out that we don't sprinkle sesame seeds on every dish. I fact we do so extremely rarely.

 

That's more of a Korean thing, I think. Obviously not every dish either.

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~ Shai N.

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1 hour ago, shain said:

 

That's more of a Korean thing, I think. Obviously not every dish either.

 

I think it's more of an American thing. Just look at a McD's hamburger bun!

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1 hour ago, liuzhou said:

I think it's more of an American thing. Just look at a McD's hamburger bun!

 

If we're talking about pastry, I think we at the Middle East take the cake. There's sesame everywhere.

Though unlike in cooked dishes, sesame is pretty common in Chinese baked goods, pastry etc., isn't it?

~ Shai N.

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Posted (edited)
3 minutes ago, shain said:

 

If we're talking about pastry, I think we at the Middle East take the cake. There's sesame everywhere.

Though unlike in cooked dishes, sesame is pretty common in Chinese baked goods, pastry etc., isn't it?

 

Yes, but baked goods and pastry are not actually that common and still, not many include sesame seeds.

Agree the Middle East is more prolific in its use of sesame than China or Korea.

Edited by liuzhou (log)
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4 hours ago, liuzhou said:

 

I think it's more of an American thing. Just look at a McD's hamburger bun!

Yes I think it trends with the older 'if it has soy sauce and gingr of some sort" - we'll call it Asian.

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