Food - Drink
Is There A Difference Between Sesame Paste And Tahini?
Sesame seeds, oil, and paste add an inimitable flavor to many dishes from various world cuisines, but shopping for sesame paste in particular can be confusing. The Middle Eastern and Mediterranean style known as tahini is called for in many recipes, but sometimes you need the Chinese-style sesame paste known as zhi ma jiang.
Chinese sesame paste is indeed different from tahini; it's made from whole seeds that are toasted and sometimes combined with soybean oil. The resulting paste is intensely flavored, with a deep color and thick texture like peanut butter; zhi ma jiang works best in umami-heavy savory dishes, as well as sauces and salad dressings.
On the other hand, tahini is made from raw sesame seeds, and the result is a lighter, milder, more runny sauce that is a vital ingredient in hummus, and also works in soup and salad dressings. Tahini can replace Chinese sesame paste if you add a dash of sesame oil, but zhi ma jiang can't replace tahini because the flavor is simply too strong.