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      Tahini vs. Sesame Paste: What’s the Difference?

      What is the difference between tahini vs sesame paste? Are they the same thing or are there any key differences? This article answers all of your questions about tahini and sesame paste. 

      tahini vs sesame paste

      What is tahini?

      Tahini is a smooth paste made of ground sesame seeds. It has a yellowish-orange color and has a nutty flavor. The sesame seed paste is also a popular ingredient in Middle Eastern cuisine.

      Black tahini is another variety of tahini that is made using black sesame seeds. Regular tahini is made using white sesame seeds. This is why it’s a pale color. 

      Origins

      The oldest sesame seeds were found in Pakistan’s Indus Valley and date back to over 5000 years ago. It’s also believed that sesame seeds were used in Egypt for medicinal purposes.

      The origins of tahini are less certain, though most historians agree it originated in the Middle East. This is why it’s found in so many Middle Eastern dishes. 

      Nowadays, tahini is found in both Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisine. It’s also popular in the United States and is found in many vegan recipes and salad dressings.

      Recipes

      There are a variety of dishes in Middle Eastern cuisine that include tahini. A few of those recipes are listed below.

      • Hummus: Creamy chickpea dip.
      • Baba Ganoush: Smoky eggplant dip.
      • Falafel: Fried chickpea patties.
      • Halva: Sweet sesame dessert.
      • Muhammara: Red pepper dip.
      • Shawarma: Grilled meat wrap.

      Where to buy

      You should be able to find tahini at your local grocery store. But, if you have any trouble finding tahini, try some health food stores as well as international food stores. 

      tahini vs sesame paste

      What is sesame paste?

      Sesame paste typically refers to Chinese sesame paste or zhi ma jiang. It is a thick paste made from toasted white sesame seeds and is often used in dipping sauce for hot pot. 

      Because the paste is made with toasted sesame seeds, it is nuttier than tahini, which is made with raw sesame seeds. It’s also darker in color and appears more like peanut butter. 

      Origins

      The history of sesame seeds coming to China is uncertain. It could have been up to 5000 years ago. But it’s clear that sesame paste has been a staple in Chinese cuisine for many years. 

      Recipes

      There are several recipes that use Chinese sesame paste. A few of these recipes are listed here:

      • Dan Dan Noodles: Spicy sesame noodles.
      • Cold Sesame Noodles: Chilled noodle dish.
      • Zhajiangmian: Minced meat noodles.
      • Sichuan Cold Chicken: Chilled spicy chicken.
      • Ma Jiang Mian: Sesame sauce noodles.
      • Jiangxi Black Bone Chicken Soup: Nutritious black chicken soup.

      Along with this, sesame sauce, which is often used in Japanese hot pot (shabu shabu) contains sesame paste. 

      Where to buy

      Chinese sesame paste is going to be difficult to find at your local grocery store. You will likely need to find a few Asian supermarkets near you to check for the item. You can also try various online Asian grocery stores like Weee! and Umamimart.

      tahini vs sesame paste

      Similarities: Tahini vs Sesame Paste

      Tahini and Chinese sesame paste have more similarities than differences. Firstly, they share the same main ingredient, white sesame seeds.

      They have a similar consistency, though Chinese sesame paste is a bit thicker, more similar to peanut butter. They also have a similar flavor, with Chinese sesame paste being a bit nuttier.

      Overall, they both have a creamy texture and similar flavor due to white sesame seeds being the main ingredient. They can be used to replace the other in most savory dishes.

      Differences: Tahini vs Sesame Paste

      Despite tahini and Chinese sesame paste being very similar, there are a few differences to take note of. 

      The main difference is the fact that Chinese sesame paste is made using toasted sesame seeds and tahini is made using raw sesame seeds. 

      Along with this, tahini is a bit thinner in consistency and has a lighter color, appearing as a light beige. Chinese sesame paste is a bit thicker and looks more like peanut butter, a deeper orange-brown color.

      Nutrition Breakdown: Tahini vs Sesame Paste

      The nutritional value of tahini vs sesame paste is quite similar. Half an ounce of tahini has about 84 calories while about half an ounce of sesame paste contains about 77 calories. 

      They both contain about 7-8 grams of fat, 2-3 grams of protein, 2-3 grams of carbohydrates and 1-2 grams of fiber. When it comes to macronutrients, they are just about identical.

      Both tahini and sesame paste are a good source of vitamin B1 (thiamine), copper, manganese and phosphorus. Sesame paste is also a good source of magnesium and zinc. 

      Overall, Chinese sesame paste and tahini are about the same nutritionally. The only difference is that Chinese sesame paste contains a higher amount of magnesium and zinc, but the difference is so small I wouldn’t even consider it.

      The nutritional value of tahini was collected from cronometer.com using the entry “Tahini” from the NCC database. The nutritional value of sesame paste was collected from thewoksoflife.com using the recipe “Chinese Sesame Paste”

      tahini vs sesame paste

      Homemade Hummus Recipe

      Hummus is one of the most iconic dishes that uses tahini. Below is a simple recipe you can use to make hummus in the comfort of your own home.

      Ingredients:

      • 1 can chickpeas, drained
      • 1/4 cup tahini
      • 1/4 cup olive oil
      • 1 clove garlic, minced
      • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
      • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
      • Pinch of salt
      • 2-3 tablespoons water

      Instructions:

      1. In a food processor or high-powered blender, add the chickpeas, tahini, olive oil, garlic, lemon juice, cumin, and a pinch of salt. Blend until smooth, scrape down the sides as needed.
      2. Gradually add water while blending until you reach your desired consistency.
      3. Transfer to a serving bowl, drizzle with olive oil, and garnish with a sprinkle of cumin.
      4. Store the leftovers in an airtight container.

      Frequently Asked Questions

      Do you refrigerate tahini?

      Once you have opened a container of tahini, it’s best to store it in the refrigerator to extend its shelf life for as long as possible. It is shelf stable before you open the package.

      Can you use Chinese sesame paste for hummus?

      Yes, but I wouldn’t recommend it. It will produce a distinctly different flavor profile if you add it to hummus since Chinese sesame paste uses toasted sesame seeds instead of raw sesame seeds. 

      If you enjoyed this article or found it helpful, leave a comment down below or contact me directly through email at contactme@tasteitwithtia.com.

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      ABOUT ME

      tia glover rd

      My name is Tia and I am a registered dietitian and content creator.

      My goal is to help young people learn how to eat a nutritious, balanced diet without restriction or giving up cultural foods. 💛

      Hapa/Japanese American 🇺🇸🇯🇵

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