What Is Black Sesame and What Does It Taste Like?

Since I am continuously watching The Great British Bake Off, I have to give a shout out to Crystelle Pereira from season 12. Her shining moment was her coconut, yuzu, and black sesame slices from the semifinals that earned her a handshake. Based on how they looked, I have to assume they were delicious. But it got me wondering about black sesame seeds and what their deal is. So, what is black sesame? What does black sesame taste like? I did the research and found out.

What are black sesame seeds?

Sesame seeds are a popular topping for hamburger buns and bagels. While we are accustomed to them being white, there is a black version that is starting to appear more and more in American foods. 

Mostly produced in China and Southeast Asia, black sesame is one of several varieties of sesame seeds and it gets it black color from its hull. There are also various shades of brown, tan, and white hulls. All of these varieties, when their hull is removed, have a white seed inside. So, when you see black sesame seeds in the grocery store, that just means they still have their shells on.

What does black sesame taste like?

Shelled white sesame seeds have a sweet, nutty taste that is quite smooth. Black sesame seeds are far crunchier, so they provide quite a different texture. Also, the hull adds a bit of bitterness to the typical sesame taste. 

Black sesame flavor in desserts or boba tea tastes like black sesames seeds—but sweet. It’s nutty and ever so slightly bitter and earthy with a round, brown sugar sweetness. 

How to eat black sesame seeds?

Black sesame seeds are used a lot in Asian cuisines; for example, they are often sprinkled on top of sushi rolls or added to soba noodle bowls. They have also popped up at Burger King, adorning the red-colored bun of the limited edition burger promotion for Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse. 

You can really use the black sesame seeds anywhere you would use the traditional white variety: dump them in salads, dash them onto the cream cheese on a bagel, use them to coat fish, or add them to a rice or noodle dish for texture. You can even follow Crystelle’s lead and incorporate them into baking and desserts. I’ve never had black sesame seeds with vanilla ice cream, but it might be worth a try. At the very least, it will look pretty cool.

About the Author

Luke Field

Luke Field is a writer and actor originally from Philadelphia. He was the former Head Writer of branded content at CollegeHumor and was also a contributing writer and actor to the CollegeHumor Originals cast. He has extensive improv and sketch stage experience, performing both at The Upright Citizens Brigade Theater and with their Touring Company. In addition to writing, he also works as a Story Producer, most recently on season 4 of Accident, Suicide, or Murder on Oxygen. Keep your eyes peeled for his brief but impactful appearance as Kevin, the screaming security guard, in the upcoming feature The Disruptors, directed by Adam Frucci.

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