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I normally purchase sesame oil from an Asian market, but this time I bought it from the grocery store. I primarily use sesame oil for making stir-fried cashew chicken in a wok on the stovetop.

Kadoya Brand
100% Pure Sesame Oil
Ingredients: Sesame Seed Oil

La Tourangelle Toasted Sesame Oil
Ingredients: 100% Pure Sesame Oil

The new bottle (toasted sesame oil) says on the back that it is best for low to medium heat, including stir-frying, baking, dipping, dressings, or drizzled on finished dishes.

So, what is the difference between sesame oil and toasted sesame oil? I do not taste a difference.

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4 Answers

up vote 5 down vote accepted

I think the Kadoya brand you bought was toasted as well, it just didn't bother to mention it. Everything I've bought from Kadoya has been toasted. They are easy to tell apart. Non-toasted is about the same color as say safflower oil, toasted is rather dark brown. Toasted is used primarily for finishing dishes, as a final flavor. A little goes a long way. Non-toasted is a pretty marginalized product; you see it at health food stores some times. I can't think of any culinary reason to prefer it over the many other choices and it is quite expensive. Maybe some folks have particular health reasons for choosing it.

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Pure refined sesame oil can be used for the cooking itself and it's pretty good for Asian dishes. For the unrefined oil I agree, it's hard to find a use for it (except... well, toasting it). –  Aaronut Sep 14 '10 at 21:15
    
So there's 3 products, then? Refined oil (good for cooking), unrefined oil (undetermined best use), and toasted unrefined oil (stronger taste, not great for cooking, best for dressilngs)? –  JustRightMenus Sep 14 '10 at 21:23
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@JustRightMenus: That's correct. Refined sesame oil is actually the least common to find in stores, at least where I live. Pure (unrefined) sesame oil is very common but I never use it; toasted sesame oil, I use in almost every single Asian dish I make. Not just dressings but the majority of stir-fry sauces as well. –  Aaronut Sep 14 '10 at 21:28
    
@aaronut - well said, i'm the same way –  Michael at Herbivoracious Sep 14 '10 at 21:51
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I have a container of Kadoya "100% Sesame Oil" and it is definitely toasted. –  Bob Sep 15 '10 at 12:31
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Honestly? This may make me unpopular, but if you cannot taste the difference between toasted and untoasted sesame oil then your palate needs serious and immediate education.

Regular sesame oil is light, almost sweet, with just a hint of flavour. Toasted sesame oil is bod, assertive, nutty.

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I think it's more likely that they're the same in this case (the "plain" sesame oil is actually toasted). I'm not sure it's possible for anyone with a sense of taste (or sight) to mistake the difference. –  Bob Sep 15 '10 at 12:29
    
@roux Thank you! I think these two must both be toasted. I poured some of each out onto a white plate and they're even the same color. I'm going to see if I can find some that's definitely not toasted to compare further, though. –  JustRightMenus Sep 15 '10 at 13:56
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@bob you would be astonished. –  daniel Sep 15 '10 at 17:38
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What no one has mentioned is that you shouldn't cook with toasted sesame oil it has a very low smoke point and will burn very easily. No matter what the instructions on the bottle say do not use it for cooking it's only used as an accent after cooking. If you use it for cooking your food will taste very burnt. Most recipes calling for the oil will specifically tell you to add the sesame oil when the pot/pan is off the heat and the pan has cooled for a bit.

The point here is that if you're cooking with sesame oil and it's not burning then you're not start stir frying (or you are not using toasted sesame oil) because the heat required for stir frying will absolutely burn all toasted sesame oil.

The first time I tried to cook with sesame oil It ended up terrible tasting because of how scorched it was. I have not repeated that mistake in the roughly 25 years since!

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I use untoasted sesame oil as a cooking oil, and in dressings where I do not want the overwhelming flavor of toasted sesame oil. Untoasted sesame is one of the most common cooking oils in India, and I use it in preference to peanut oil for cooking. When it comes to Asian cuisines, I pretty much only stock untoasted sesame, toasted sesame, and rice bran oils (many Japanese recipes use this). My family has never used any other brand of toasted sesame oil than Kadoya.

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So how does this untoasted oil compare to the toasted version? –  sourd'oh Sep 19 '13 at 15:38
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