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.
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: