Simply Food: Honey Sesame Chicken with Asian Style Rice

“I’d like to be a kid again because naps were insisted, twirling in circles was acceptable and the only password I had to remember was open sesame.” Adar Burks

The often-repeated phrase, “open sesame” came about due to the fact that sesame seeds burst open when they reach maturity. Sesame seeds are so much more than the inspiration for the phrase used by Ali Baba in the “Arabian Nights” tales. It is so much fun to say it though. Sesame seeds are magical in other ways as well. They very well may be the world’s oldest condiment, enhancing dishes with their nutty flavor and subtle crunch for centuries.

The people of ancient Babylon used to mix sesame seeds with honey (halva). The women ate this mixture to prolong youth and beauty. Roman soldiers ate halva to increase strength and energy. I don’t see why the men wouldn’t also want to have youth and beauty and I know women want strength and energy. I am not sure if this is why people eat halva today, but why not? In addition to these ancient uses, sesame seeds have been widely studied for their health benefits today.

Sesame seeds have been shown to decrease cholesterol. Studies have shown that they also help with diabetes, lower blood pressure, help get rid of gingivitis, and help to repair kidney damage. One study reveals that babies grow faster and healthier when massaged with sesame oil.

There are three ways I like to use sesame seeds in my kitchen. I use sesame oil when I cook Asian style dishes. I never thought about using this oil for massages; but, I might give that a try. Unfortunately, although I would love to be a few inches taller, I doubt I will grow anymore. I also use tahini or sesame paste. This is basically smashed up sesame seeds. I make a delicious sauce combining tahini with lemon juice, crushed garlic and lemon. I use this as a spread for sandwiches, as a dipping sauce or sometimes as a dressing. I also use tahini to make homemade hummus. I make hummus about once a week. It’s so easy. In a food processor, you just combine about a tablespoon of tahini with a can of garbanzo beans. Then, add lemon and garlic. I always throw in whatever flavor I want. Sometimes, I had hot peppers or red bell peppers. Sometimes I add cilantro and cucumber. It’s fun to play around with the flavors.

Finally, and this is where this weeks recipe comes into play, I like to toast sesame seeds and add them to different dishes. I throw them into all kinds of things. They are great on salads, broccoli, green beans, spinach, fish, beef, tofu and chicken. They would probably go well on any type of vegetable or meat. They are so easy to toast. You just heat up a little oil and let them brown in a skillet. It takes a few minutes. I find that eating them browned rather than raw, brings out the nutty flavor a little more. This week I made a honey sauce to go with the chicken and added the toasted sesame seeds at the end while the chicken baked in the oven. I also added a delicious version of Asian style rice to pour the chicken and sauce over. I used lots of really good flavors and vegetables to make it delicious. You can add or take away pretty much anything in this rice mixture. It’s fun to make it how you like it. Feel like a kid again and play around. Heck, twirl around while you do it too if you like.

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