Essential for Chinese and Japanese cooking, sesame oil comes in two varieties: toasted and untoasted.
The deep brown toasted variety is best used as a condiment - sprinkled over dishes such as stir-fries at the end of cooking so that its distinctive nutty flavour and aroma are not destroyed. Alternatively, it can be combined with a milder oil such as peanut or sunflower for frying.
The untoasted version can be used for general frying purposes, but has a low burning point so care is needed when using it.
Buy the smallest bottle you can find and aim to use it quickly, preferably within a few months.
IN THE KITCHEN
Stir-fries and tempura are just two of the Oriental dishes that are not quite right unless made with sesame oil. It can also be sprinkled over cooked foods in place of sesame seeds.
It goes especially well with green beans, pumpkin, prawns, chicken and, curiously, vanilla ice cream.