Yagenbori: Shichimi Togarashi 7 Spice Blend from Asakusa
When I think of spice condiment that represents Japan, what pops into my head right away is “Shichimi Togarashi (七味唐辛子)”.
As the Japanese chili pepper mix is an essential condiment for Udon and Soba noodle soups, you may have tried it before.
Yes, Shichimi Togarashi is the traditional Japanese seven-spice blend that consists of ground red chili pepper and other 6 aromatic spices.
Yagenbori: The Birthplace of Shichimi Togarashi
As for the origin, Shichimi Togarashi was first invented in 1626 by a druggist that lived in Edo (present-day Tokyo), named “Nakajima Tokuuemon (中島徳右衛門)”.
It is said that, based on the knowledge of herbal medicines, he created it. The originator of Shichimi Togarashi started a business in 1625 and the next year he invented the spice mix.
Now his spice shop, “Yagenbori (やげん堀) (Google Map)” is located in Asakusa, Tokyo, and its 7 spice blend has become one of Japan’s 3 Major Shichimi Togarashi, together with “Yawataya Isogoro (八幡屋礒五郎)” in Nagano and “Shichimiya Honpo (七味屋本舗)” in Kyoto.
Since the birthplace of Shichimi Togarashi is Yagenbori, Shichimi Togarashi is also called Yagenbori.
I got a Yagenbori Shichimi Togarashi Spice Mix
Actually, today I came across a Shichimi Togarashi chili pepper mix from Yagenbori at a newly opened supermarket in my city. I love Shichimi, so I picked up the spice mix, together with its refill.
This spice blend is dark orange in color, not that spicy, and has a good harmony between spicy taste and fragrant aromas.
Since I like eating miso soup with Shichimi Togarashi, this night I sprinkled the spice condiment over the soup and enjoyed it!
As I mentioned above, the first ingredient of Shichimi Togarashi is ground red chili pepper, while the composition of the other 6 spices differs depending on the producer.
As for this spice mix from Yagenbori, based on the ingredient list on the package of the refill, it is comprised of
- Red chili pepper
- Roasted red chili pepper
- Black sesame seeds
- Dried Satsuma mandarin orange peel
- Hemp seeds
- Poppy seeds
- Dried sea lettuce
Yagenbori vs Yawataya Isogoro
I also have a seven-spice blend from “Yawataya Isogoro (八幡屋磯五郎)” at home, which, as I wrote above, is also one of Japan’s 3 Major Shichimi Togarashi.
As you can see in the photo above, compared to the Yawataya’s Shichimi, the Yagenbori’s one has a more blackish color, which mainly comes from black sesame seeds.
Incidentally, this Yawataya Isogoro’s spice mix is made up of
- Red chili pepper
- Sansho pepper
- Shiso (Perilla)
- Sesame seeds
- Dried citrus peel
- Hemp seeds.
In taste, the Yawataya’s Shichimi Togarashi is somewhat hotter than the Yagenbori’s one and has a pronounced ginger note that can’t be seen in other Shichimi.