Japanese Spice: How to Use Shichimi Togarashi
When you eat Soba and Udon noodles, what would you add to the noodle soups as a condiment? Most Japanese people like to sprinkle the 7 spice blend unique to Japan “Shichimi Togarashi (七味唐辛子)” on the dishes to make them more flavorful and somewhat spicy.
As “Shichimi Togarashi” literally means “7 flavor chili pepper” in Japanese, the traditional Japanese spice is made by blending coarsely ground red chili pepper with other 6 different varieties of aromatic spices.
Red chili pepper is Shichimi’s first ingredient, while the other 6 spices vary depending on the producer but typically include sesame seeds, hemp seeds, poppy seeds, ginger, Chinpi (dried orange peel), Ao-Nori (green seaweed), and Sansho pepper.
3 Basic Uses of Shichimi Togarashi
Let’s get back on track. If you have a chance to go to a Soba or Udon restaurant in Japan, you will definitely find canned or bottled Shichimi Togarashi on the table to which a waiter leads you, for Shichimi Togarashi is one of the essential condiments for Soba and Udon noodles.
But other than this, the spice mix actually can be used in various ways, and there are many Shichimi Togarashi addicts in Japan. They have their own Shichimi Togarashi and sprinkle lots of it over almost any food including sweets (even ice cream!). As for me, I don’t have my own Shichimi Togarashi, but I also like foods with the 7 spice blend sprinkled.
Not only do the addicts and I love Shichimi Togarashi, but the majority of households in Japan have at least one bottled or canned Shichimi Togarashi or Ichimi Togarashi. Ichimi Togarashi looks like Shichimi Togarashi, but it consists solely of red chili pepper flakes.
Lastly, for people who are interested in the spice mix Shichimi Togarashi and want to try it someday, let me introduce 3 basic ways to use the traditional Japanese 7 spice blend.
Sprinkle on Food
Shichimi Togarashi is not a Furikake seasoning, but their basic usage is the same; sprinkle on food as much as you like. The Japanese seven-spice blend works well with a wide range of food, but we tend to use it especially for Gyudon been bowl, miso soup, Tsukemono pickles, and Udon and Soba noodles.
Make a Sauce with Mayonnaise
Combine mayo and Shichimi Togarashi, and if desired, additionally add soy sauce, and make a dipping sauce. This is one of the basic uses of Shichimi Togarashi. We often use the mixed seasoning as a dip for the squid snack “Surume (スルメ)” or fresh vegetable sticks like cucumber.
Combine with Miso
The seasoning mixture of miso, mirin (sweet cooking rice wine), and Shichimi Togarashi can be used in various dishes. Especially, we Japanese like using this sweet-savory paste in Onigiri rice balls.