Sweet and Spicy Sesame Sauce

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Yield:

    ¾ cup

Appears in


By James Peterson

Published 1991

  • About

Inspired by a recipe in Barbara Tropp’s excellent The Modern Art of Chinese Cooking, this sauce has a complex sweetness but enough heat to prevent the sweetness from being cloying. This sauce can be tossed with or brushed on cold chicken, or used as a dipping sauce for grilled foods or as a salad dressing.


sesame seeds or asian sesame paste 2 tbsp or ¼ cup 30 ml or ml
sugar 1 tbsp 15 ml
water, hot 2 tbsp 30 ml
dark sesame oil 2 tbsp 30 ml
hoisin sauce 1 tbsp 15 ml
japanese dark soy sauce ¼ cup 60 ml
chile oil or thai chiles, very finely chopped or serrano chiles, very finely chopped 1 tbsp or 2 to 4 or 1 or 2 15 ml or 2 to 4 or 1 or 2


  1. If using whole sesame seeds, toss them in a dry skillet over high heat until they are lightly brown and smell fragrant, about 5 minutes. Cool, then grind them to a paste in a coffee grinder.
  2. Dissolve the sugar in the water. Whisk all the ingredients into a smooth paste or purée in a food processor, scraping down the sides with a rubber spatula a few times during the processing. Keep the sauce in the refrigerator until needed. It typically will last several weeks.