Spicy, citrusy, with a little bit of ocean taste to it, shichimi togarashi season mix has taken over the world with its spicy charm. You may have seen them in a Japanese restaurant. They are typically put beside soy sauce on the table. They’ll add that nice kick to your food without it having to be too spicy.
Get familiar with this seasoning and take a little journey through the taste.
Get To Know Shichimi Togarashi
Shichimi togarashi is a Japanese spice blend that consists of chili flakes and multiple ground up spices like citrus, sesame seeds, seaweed and many other delicious ingredients. Outside Japan, shichimi togarashi is often just called ‘togarashi’.
Shichi 七 means seven, mi 味 means flavor, and togarashi 唐辛子 means chilli. Shichimi togarashi literally means seven flavor chilli. The word seven is used because there are seven kinds of spices that are mixed into the spice blend. Though the name clearly states seven, some brands even put up to nine spices into their shichimi togarashi.
What makes up the spice blend varies, depending on brands and region. A brand in Kyoto uses chili flakes, seaweed, pepper, black and white sesame seeds, perilla leaf, and hemp seed in their togarashi spice blend. Meanwhile, a brand in Asakusa, Tokyo, uses more than seven ingredients to make their shichimi togarashi including citrus peel and poppy seeds. So, the possibilities are endless.
While variations exist, basically shichimi togarashi will consists of:
Be it a sauce, broth, or even plain rice, shichimi togarashi can be sprinkled on almost anything. Usually shichimi togarashi is paired up with Japanese food. But of course, shichimi togarashi is also compatible with many western cooking like: Fried chicken, french fries, barbecue, soup, salad, popcorn, and many others.
The History of Shichimi Togarashi
Shichimi Togarashi started gaining popularity in 1625. The Japanese spice blend was founded for the first time in Yagenbori area, which in modern day is Higashi Nihonbashi, Tokyo. It is said that the first seller of shichimi togarashi was a man called Tokuemon, the first generation of Yagenbori Shichimi Togarashi business. He was inspired by Chinese medicine and wanted to make food out of spices.
Shichimi togarashi became popular really quick as the spice blend goes really well with soba noodles, one of the food that was often eaten in the area. After that, the popularity of shichimi togarashi spread through many places across the nation.
Mix And Match
Shichimi togarashi is great on its own, but have you ever thought about mixing it with another ingredient? Here are some of the best combos for shichimi togarashi:
Shichimi Togarashi And Mayo
Make spicy mayo by adding shichimi togarashi to your mayonnaise. The heat and slight citrus flavor will balance out the creaminess of mayo. Use this combo to eat sushi roll, or just use them as a dipping sauce to any of your favorite fried snacks.
Shichimi Togarashi And Soy Sauce
You can never go wrong with the classic. As soy sauce is also a popular condiment in Japan, it’s no wonder that these two go together very nicely. This mix is very suitable for nigiri sushi or sashimi. It will spice up your sushi, literally.
Shichimi Togarashi, olive oil, vinegar, and salt
Mix shichimi togarashi, olive oil, vinegar, and salt, and you got yourself a killer salad dressing right there. If you need more citrus punch, add lemon juice. For this dressing, you can also use yuzu shichimi togarashi to replace the regular shichimi.
Popular Shichimi Types
Brands have been getting really creative lately and adding their special ingredient into their shichimi togarashi. If you’re into exploring the taste of delightful spices, you should try many types of the spice blend. Here are some of the popular variations of shichimi togarashi.
Yuzu Shichimi Togarashi
Yuzu is a type of citrus fruit that is common in East Asia. Yuzu is very tart and aromatic. In Japan, yuzu is so popular that you can find anything yuzu related like yuzu ponzu, yuzu tea, or even yuzu alcoholic drink. That’s why it’s no surprise that yuzu shichimi is a thing. Yuzu shichimi have a more zesty taste. Due to the citric aroma, yuzu shichimi can be a great seasoning for salad.
Sansho Shichimi Togarashi
Sansho is Japanese pepper. In a regular shichimi, sansho is already a main ingredient. Sansho shichimi uses more amount of Japanese pepper to get a more intense taste. Some brands also add perilla leaf to amp up the aroma of sansho shichimi. This type of shichimi is a good sprinkle to fried or grilled foods.
Ichimi And Shichimi
Mainly, there are two kinds of togarashi: ichimi (left picture) and shichimi (right picture). Ichimi is just plain chilli flakes. Like the name ichimi (一味 one flavor), it contains one ingredient which is ground up dried chilli flakes. Taste wise, ichimi have more heat packed into it. Unlike shichimi that has more fragrance, they taste more straightforward and simple. For people who don’t prefer fragrant spices, ichimi togarashi might be a great choice.
Make Your Own Homemade Shichimi Togarashi
Chances are, it’s less easy to find shichimi togarashi outside Japan. Although they are getting more and more common now, the varieties are still limited. So, why don’t we make it ourselves?
Making homemade shichimi togarashi is easier than you think, All it takes is your preferred spices and a reliable food processor (you can also use blender for this). Finding the exact spices can be a little bit troublesome, but you can get adventurous and give this recipe a modification. In fact, you can adjust the heat level and use more than just seven ingredients.
Homemade Shichimi Togarashi
- Ground red chilli pepper
- 1 tbsp
- Lightly toasted sesame seeds
- 1 tsp
- Dried citrus peel
- 1 tbsp
- Sansho (Japanese pepper)
- 1 tbsp
- Flaked nori
- 2 tsp
- Poppy seeds
- 2 tsp
- Cracked dried ginger
- 2 tsp
How to Make
- Put all ingredients in the food processor.
- Pulse the processor until all ingredients are well mixed and grounded.
- Your shichimi togarashi is ready to use! Keep it in airtight container and use it within 1 month.
Frequently Asked Questions
- Shichimi and Nanami, are they different?
- They are practically the same. It’s just a matter of preference on what to call the spice blend. The kanji 七 can be read as shichi or nana. So it can be shichimi or nanami. Most people in Japan would call it shichimi, but S&B brand called their spice blend that is exported outside japan ‘nanami’. According to their official website, S&B brand stated that they purposely changed its name so people outside Japan wouldn’t confuse it with ichimi (ichimi and shichimi sounds pretty similar).
- Can I use Chinese five-spice blend to substitute shichimi togarashi?
- No, it will taste very different. Chinese five-spice blend doesn’t have that citrus oceany taste to it. Its ingredients are far too different to be a good substitute. Chinese five-spice usually contains sichuan pepper, cloves, cinnamon, fennel seeds, and star anise.