The key to this rich, nutty sauce is to toast the sesame seeds beforehand. Pre-toasted sesame seeds are fine in a pinch, but I suggest toasting them a little further to enhance the flavor. The final swirl of sesame oil also amps up the bold sesame flavor. I like to keep a jar of this sauce on hand in the refrigerator because you can serve it with almost anything: a sauce for meats and vegetables fresh out of the hot pot, drizzled over a salad or as a dip for crudite.
Skill Level: Easy
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Yield: 1½ cups
½ cup white sesame seeds
½ cup shiro (white) miso
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon shoyu (Japanese soy sauce)
1 tablespoon mirin (sweet rice wine)
2 teaspoons rice vinegar
2 large garlic cloves, crushed
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
In a small skillet, toast the sesame seeds over low heat until fragrant and golden brown, about 10 minutes. Maintain a constant stir or swirl the seeds in the pan as they are cooking.
In a mortar and pestle, crush the toasted sesame seeds into a fine powder. (See Note)
In a blender, puree the ground sesame seeds with the miso, sugar, shoyu, mirin, vinegar, garlic and ¾ cup of water until smooth. The sauce should have the consistency of a salad dressing. Add more water, if needed. Scrape the sauce into a small bowl and stir in the sesame oil before serving.
MAKE AHEAD The sauce can be refrigerated for up to one week.
NOTE Alternatively, you can use a clean coffee grinder, but be careful not to over-process the seeds or you'll end up with sesame paste. Stop before the seeds start to release oil or the powder will clump.