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TIP OF THE DAY: Shichimi Togarashi

Many Americans like to shake hot sauce on their food. But what about hot spices?

In addition to black pepper and chile flakes, there’s shichimi togarashi (she-CHEE-me toe-gah-RAH-she—photo #1).

Known simply as shichimi in Japan, it’s a seven-ingredient spice blend (shichi is “seven” in Japanese, togarashi is red pepper).
The spice blend dates at least to the 17th century, when it was produced by herb dealers in Edo (modern Tokyo).

How trending is it? McCormick sells it in U.S. supermarkets, as Japanese Seven Spice (photo #3).

Blends vary by producer, but the blends aim for a combination of hot, citrus, sea and nutty flavors. Unlike hot sauces, which can deliver tongue-tingling heat, the aim of shichimi is to deliver a medium-hot, complex heat that elevates the flavor profile of a dish.

Typical ingredients include:

  • Hot red chile peppers
  • Sansho pepper pods
  • Roasted orange or yuzu peel
  • Black and white sesame seeds
  • Hemp or poppy seeds
  • Ginger
  • Seaweed
    Other ingredients may be used, including rapeseed for the seeds, and shiso for the seaweed.

    Shichimi is traditionally sprinkled on:

  • Chicken yakitori and other grilled meats
  • Gyudon (beef bowl)
  • Marinades, with soy, vinegar and scallions
  • Rice
  • Sushi
  • Tempura
  • Tofu
  • Udon and ramen soups
    It is incorporated into products such as rice cakes, roasted rice crackers and crunchy snacks.

    You can use shichimi togarashi in American fare: anywhere you’d like to add some heat. How about:

  • Avocado toast or guacamole
  • Burgers and fries
  • Chicken wings
  • Compound butter
  • Crudités
  • Fried calamari and other fried foods
  • Hot dog garnish
  • Popcorn (photo #4)
  • Salads
  • Spicy mayonnaise
  • Tex-Mex (especially fish tacos)
    You can also use it in and on sweets:

  • Caramel and chocolate sauces
  • Cheesecake (shake some into the crust)
  • Chocolate truffles
  • Ice cream and sorbet
  • Spicy honey
    For beverages, consider using the spice as a glass rimmer for a Bloody Mary, shaken with, or sprinkled over a cocktail as a garnish. Má Pêche restaurant in Manhattan infuses shichimi into high-alcohol saké.

    As is often noted, the only limit is your imagination.

      Shichimi Togarashi
    [1] Shichimi togarashi (photo Colourbox | Yahoo).

    Shichimi Togarashi
    [2] American spice shops are mixing their own blends. This one is from Oaktown Spice Shop in Oakland, California.

    Shichimi Togarashi
    [3] Worldwide spice giant McCormick sells Japanese Seven Spice, subtitled Shichimi Togarashi Seasoning (photo McCormick).

    Shichimi Togarashi Popcorn
    [4] Spicy-sweet shichimi popcorn. Here’s the recipe from Turntable Kitchen.


    You can buy the spice, or make your own blend with 2 tablespoons sansho or 1 tablespoon black peppercorns, 1 tablespoon dried orange peel, 1 tablespoon ground red chile pepper, 2 teaspoons flaked nori, 2 teaspoons black sesame seeds, 2 teaspoons white poppy seeds and 2 teaspoons nori flakes.

    Crack the peppercorns with a mallet, and blend all ingredients. Keep in a tightly-sealed jar.

    We love this recipe for Tofu Fritters with shichimi.

    Check out these recipes from Oaktown Spice Shop, for:

  • Baked Miso-Shichimi Eggplant
  • Crispy Shichimi Togarashi Chicken Cutlets
  • Japanese Noodle Soup with Shichimi Togarashi
  • Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Shichimi Togarashi
  • Shichimi Togarashi Baked Tofu
  • Spicy Sweet Shichimi Togarashi Popcorn
  • More Recipe Ideas

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