Glazed Zucchini with Sesame

Zukkīni no Goma Aé

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves


Appears in

An American Taste of Japan

An American Taste of Japan

By Elizabeth Andoh

Published 1985

  • About

In America, zucchini is incredibly abundant, as anyone with just a small vine in the backyard will attest. In Japan, though, it’s a rare and imported delicacy. Since zucchini is such a versatile vegetable, blending well with all sorts of seasonings, it’s no wonder that many Japanese living in America have been cooking with it. My favorite Japanese-style zucchini dish is this subtly nutty sesame sauté.


  • 1 tablespoon white sesame seeds
  • 3–4 slender zucchini squash, about pounds in all
  • 1–1½ tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon saké (Japanese rice wine)
  • tablespoons soy sauce
  • ½ teaspoon sugar


In a clean, dry skillet, roast the sesame seeds over medium-high heat for 30–40 seconds until they begin to color slightly or a few pop. Shake the pan to keep the seeds in motion. Set aside 1 teaspoon of whole seeds, but mince the rest with a knife on a dry board much as you would parsley.

Wash and pat dry the zucchini, then slice off about -inch from the stem end of each. Using this stem piece, rub the cut surface in circular motions until a thick white foam appears; rinse it away and pat the squash dry. This is what the Japanese call aku nuki or “bitterness removal” Trim the opposite end and cut each squash lengthwise into quarters. Cut these strips into -inch lengths.

In a large skillet, heat the oil and sauté the zucchini over high heat for 1½–2 minutes. Keep the vegetable pieces moving constantly to keep them from browning and sticking. Add the rice wine, and continue to sauté for a few seconds before adding the soy sauce and sugar. Reduce the heat and cover the skillet, letting the zucchini simmer for 1 minute more. Remove the lid and you’ll notice several tablespoons of liquid in the skillet. Sprinkle the minced sesame seeds over the zucchini, return the heat to high, and stir, cooking for another 10–15 seconds. The zucchini will take on a glazed appearance. Serve hot or at room temperature. Just before serving, garnish with the whole seeds that you set aside.