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Brian's Photo Blog — Article 691
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The Rise and Fall of Tahini Sauce
Wednesday 4 October 2017   —   Category: Cooking & Food
In Testing the Waters of Mediterranean Cuisine I related how articles and recipes on OregonLive.com and meals at certain Portland restaurants were fueling my interest in Mediterranean cuisine.

In parts one and two of this three-​article series — Serrano Yogurt Sauce and Greek Salads and Greek Tzatziki Sauce Elevates Gyro and BBQ Lamb — I gave specific examples of how I took that inspiration and brought it to life in my own kitchen. Today I am going to give you more delicious examples.

When I had lunch at Zaatar Fine Lebanese Cuisine in May 2016 it was groundbreaking in numerous ways: my first time eating at a Lebanese restaurant, my first lamb shawarma, my first Leb­a­nese wine, and my first tastes of za’atar dip and tahini sauce. All of these exotic and scrumptious dishes inspired me, even the dome-​shaped basmati rice with saffron.
 
The off-​white sauce I was dipping the meat in was wonderful. I thought it tast­ed like some sort of yogurt-​based sauce, but when I asked the waitress she said that there was no yogurt in it and that it was based on tahini. I was going through it so fast that she kindly brought me an­other ramekin-​full.

The following month I bought a pound of Roland tahini at WinCo and found a tahini recipe online.
 
My tahini sauce was fairly good, but not nearly as delicious as the one at Zaatar. Mine had much more of a tahini (ses­a­me) taste, which Zaatar’s did not seem to have.

For my first meal with my homemade tahini I fried some fish at high heat in a cast-​iron skillet with some extra-​virgin olive oil, and spiced with Weber Steak 'n' Chop seasoning and lemon juice.
 
For the rest of my Asian / Middle East­ern-​inspired meal I made peas with pan-​roasted peanuts and basmati rice with saffron. But I neglected to form the rice into the same beautiful shape.

It was a decent meal, but nothing great like at the restaurant. Besides being dis­ap­point­ed in my tahini sauce, I did not really care for the peas and peanuts to­geth­er. Oh well, live and learn!
 
A bit later in the month I made a second meal featuring tahini sauce. This time I tried to get closer to the yummy Zaatar restaurant dish.

I started off with onion and chunks of steak (not lamb) stir-​fried in a cast-​iron skillet with some extra-​virgin olive oil, and spiced with fenugreek, cumin, and Chinese five-​spice, along with Weber Steak 'n' Chop seasoning.
 
Even though there was no vegetable served with the shawarma at the res­tau­rant, I boiled an artichoke and melted some butter to dip the leaves in. It was on sale, and I just love artichokes.

As at Zaatar, I made some basmati saf­fron rice as a side, but once again I failed to give it a nice shape. To complete the dish I drizzled some tahini sauce over the meat.
 
Although my version was not as won­der­ful as the restaurant dish, it was still quite good and I really enjoyed it.

Unfortunately, neither my wife nor my daughter like the taste of tahini at all, and I don’t like it enough to eat an entire 16 oz. jar by myself, so I’m not planning on making this sauce anymore.

Maybe I‘ll make it back to Zaatar res­tau­rant in Portland once in a while to enjoy their delicious tahini sauce.
 
 
Well, there you have it, the rise and fall of tahini in our family cuisine. The best 7 photos from these two meals have been added to the Gourmet Chef Wannabe 2016 album. And that completes this album (finally!). For the further adventures of the gourmet chef wannabe, don’t miss the Gourmet Chef Wannabe 2017 album.
Brian's Photo Blog — Article 691
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Brian's Photo Blog — Article 691
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