The color of tahini always makes me think of my favorite pottery glaze: shino. I learned about shino from my beloved mentor, Malcolm Davis, The Shino Warrior. Malcolm was famous for developing a carbon trap shino, Although his name will forever be associated with these glazes, they remained a mystery to him. I asked him a technical question once and he replied, “What do you think I am, a shino expert?” His unofficial self-title was “The Shino Worrier.”
I first met Malcolm in the summer of 2001 at Peter’s Valley. Bob and the kids used to visit me when I was there. I let Malcolm know they would be joining us for dinner. he said, “Just make sure you keep them away from me, I hate kids!” Of course, Brian, then 9, decided to sit right next to the Bourbon-drinking master of porcelain. I tried to find a conversational gambit that would help make everyone friends…
Brian has just learned about Martin Luther King in school, so I pointed out that Malcolm had worked alongside King in the 60’s. My son was quiet for a moment, and then he looked at the great potter. “how do you feel about black children,” he asked. Malcolm stammered, “um….fine, I don’t have anything against black children,” “Oh,” said Brian, “So, it’s only white children you hate?” Malcolm howled. He lived for 14 years after that and I heard him tell that story many times.
Shinos are very varied. Sometimes, they are creamy, like tahini. They can blush. In a salt kiln or wood and salt, they look almost white. I’ve seen mottled deep green shinos; Malcolm called them “green snot.” Carbon trap shinos have black spots, and range in color from ivory to pink to orange. If a pot went orangey without spots, Malcolm turned up his nose and scoffed, “shit fucking pumpkin orange!”
I learned a lot about shino, porcelain, and making pots from Malcom. Mostly, I learned to appreciate a well made piece of pottery. Malcolm said, “if you have never wanted to lick a pot, I feel sorry for you,” I agree!
To celebrate the birthday of Martin Luther King and to honor The Shino Warrior, I developed a tahini sauce that tastes good on almost everything! I used my shino pots in most of the photos. You might see some additional glazes, but shino was always applied before any other glaze, because “shino first or you’re cursed.”
Tahini Sauce with Herbs
1/3 cup tahini
1/3 cup yogurt
1 scallion, chopped
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
juice of 1/2 lime
1 tbs agave
salt and pepper to taste
Whisk all the ingredients to combine. Refrigerate for at least an hour before serving. Garnish with additional cilantro and scallions.
Variations: Add freshly grated or chopped candied ginger. Add lime zest. Use lemon instead of lime. Add sesame seeds or sesame oil. Add a little soy sauce. Add a few dashes of hot sauce. We like Frank’s or Sriracha.
This sauce is wonderful on salmon or shrimp, as shown here. It makes a lovely basis for an abundance bowl. You will love it on grilled meats or poultry. Try it with chicken tenders, roasted sweet potatoes, or as a salad dressing. Experiment and let me know!