Togarashi is not only the Japanese word for chilli (pepper), but it also encompasses a range of mixes that have chilli as a main ingredient. I love Japanese Togarashi mixes and always have a homemade shichimi togarashi at hand.
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In Japanese, the word shichi (or nana) means 7, depending on the context and where the speaker happens to be from. So Shichimi Togarashi refers to a spice mix or condiment that has 7 different ingredients in it, heavy on the chilli. In Japan, Shichimi vendors will make up the mix according to the needs of the customers, much like you would find in markets and souks around the world.
In recent years, I have come across the term Nanami Togarashi, which is described (by its non Japanese writers) as a more citrusy mix. This leaves me a bit perplexed, seeing how nana also means 7. None of my Japanese friends (in the UK and Japan) has ever heard of this version. I think this is a definite case of lost in translation; someone wrote “nana”for seven, and hey presto, the Western world thinks its got a new togarashi blend!
Whatever the translation, we love it and there’s nothing like homemade, because you can control the amount of chilli you use, whether less or more!
How to Use Shichimi Togarashi?
- Sprinkle over soups, whether of Japanese origin or not
- Sprinkle over noodles
- Use as a marinade or as part of a crust on seafood and vegetables
- Use in salad dressings
- Add to tempura batter
You’ll find my easy homemade recipe for Shichimi Togarashi but before that, if you would like examples of recipes you can add shichimi togarashi, head on over to the Japanese page.
Now, let’s get our aprons on!
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Shichimi Togarashi, the Japanese Seven Flavour Spice Mix
- 1 tsp Japanese Sancho peppercorns or Sichuan peppercorns
- 2 tsp dried orange peel
- 2 Tbsp red chilli flakes
- 1 tsp black sesame seeds
- 1 tsp white sesame seeds
- 1 tsp Nori roasted seaweed for sushi
- ½ tsp ground ginger
Everything needs to be pounded or chopped in a chopper, then mixed together and stored.
- Place the peppercorns and orange peel in a small frying pan and dry roast for 1 – 2 minutes on medium-low heat until you get a lovely aroma. Don’t let it burn. Leave to cool for 5 minutes.
- While waiting for them to cool, let's blitz everything else that needs to be milled. Place the chilli flakes and both the sesame seeds into a spice mil and blitz to a semi coarse grind. Place in a bowl. Don't worry about the stubborn sesame seeds that stay whole, this just adds to the final flavour and texture.
- Tear up the nori and grind to a semi coarse texture in the spice mill. Add to the same bowl.
- Now blitz the orange peel and peppercorns to about the same size.
- Finally, mix everything together very well and store in a spice jar in a cool dry place, as you would your other spices.