Sunday, June 19, 2011
The sesame seed bun, it is becoming clear, is not well understood. So I will illuminate the arcane nature of its greatness.
Many hamburger lovers don't get it. The tasteless and meaningless things seen on certain fast food hamburgers do nothing for anybody. Check out the Big Mac, in the first photo. Why they actually brag about the sesame seeds on this thing, I have no idea. They are functionally useless. This is the source of the confusion.
The second photo is of my favorite hamburger buns. They have lots of sesame seeds.
(For this article, I realized I didn't know much about the sesame seed plant or its cultivation. Wikipedia's article on sesame seeds informs me that the seeds, African in origin, grow in pods, seen on another site. )
The problem is, the sesame seeds, stuck to the top of the bun prior to baking, never get toasted. I'm not sure why; I suggest it's the moisture in the baking bread which might have something to do with it, but I'm only guessing. Even if the bun is perfectly browned, the seeds remain a bland white, or at best very light yellow. But once you toast the seeds, their wonderful taste reveals itself. Mind you, I have been promised nutty goodness from all sorts of foods, but in this case it's true.
Many will argue the grilled burger is the best burger, and I won't argue. And it's not too hard with a little practice to toast the tops of the buns, and so the sesame seeds, perfectly, on the grill right before serving the burger. But in truth this method sometimes fails, and some parts are too dark, or the seeds are too light. But they do pick up some smoky goodness.
I suggest at least use a toaster oven for grilled burgers' buns. The buns' tops will toast pretty uniformly, as seen in the third photo.
I often cook my burgers, though, in an iron frying pan. A griddle is usually used in a restaurant without an actual grill. Here is where the sesame seed bun can really reach greatness. After the burger is done, I take the buns and toast them top side down in some of the burger fat. This unleashes the wonderful nutty taste of the sesame seeds, and also adds deliciousness to the bread. I recommend this method highly.
The last photo is not pretty, but it was delicious. It was a jalapeño cheeseburger, with a thick slice of raw onion, lettuce and mayonnaise. I split and cooked the peppers in the skillet with the burgers. The buns were toasted in the skillet after the burgers were cooked in it.
(What's the best way to assemble a hamburger?)