My sesame-seed obsession began when I was growing up in Singapore. At Chinese New Year, I ate huge handfuls of ‘smiling’ sesame cookies. The only lunch I wanted to eat in the school canteen was dark sticky chilli and sesame chicken. But out of all these meals, it was a bowl of soba noodles from a Japanese restaurant on my 8th birthday that got me hooked. The noodles were served with a cold sauce (called gomadare) that I had to make myself by grinding up toasted white sesame seeds in a traditional bowl (called a suribachi). The bowl was gorgeous, glazed on the outside, with rough grooves on the ceramic inside to crush the seeds with. And next to it on the table, to add an extra topping of sesame, sat a bright and cheerful Slicky-N sesame-seed grinder.
When I moved to London as a student, I tried to re-create the meals I missed from Singapore. Homesick, I baked the sesame cookies, stir-fried chicken, and attempted my mum’s most complicated of recipes. But when I made the soba noodles, they didn’t taste the same. Despite the gomadare, they lacked a crunch. Mid-slurp, I had a realisation and searched for ‘red sesame grinder’ on Google. Up came Slicky-N for £6.50: No-one has ever clicked the order button so fast.
Five years on, it’s still going strong. Even though it looks like a kid’s plastic toy, it’s sturdy. Many reviewers say they’ve owned it for years and years. I fill mine with white sesame seeds from my local Turkish grocer. For optimum flavour (and so they’re easy to grind), you have to toast the seeds in a skillet with no oil and then let them completely cool before filling up the grinder. I refill my Slicky-N almost weekly, as my sesame obsession extends to almost everything I eat: I add a dusting of ground toasted sesame seeds to blanched broccoli, eggs, or even ice cream for a pinch of savoury saltiness.
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