Authentic Japanese cuisine is prized for its diversity and competency in mixing and matching flavors. So, this episode unveils everything you need to know about the zesty shichimi togarashi and its ingredients.
Shichimi togarashi is a robust blend used as an essential component in Japanese cuisine used in a variety of dishes for spicing up, seasoning, and a condiment. This blend traditionally comes together with seven ingredients such as:
- Ground red chiles
- Ground ginger
- Sansho pepper/ Szechuan peppercorns
- Sesame seeds/ hemp seeds
- Poppy seeds
- Ground orange peel/ Yuzu peel
- Crushed nori (dried seaweed)
If you love Japanese food, this article will be super interesting for you- just keep reading!
What Is Shichimi Togarashi?
Shichimi togarashi (しちみ・とうがらし — 七味唐辛子) is a flavorful, piquant, and aromatic blend of seven ingredients that is widely used in Japanese cuisine. It is also popularly known as the “Japanese seven-spice blend.” The word “shichimi” literally translates to “seven flavors,” while the word “togarashi” means “chiles.” Unlike most spice blends, this usually comes as a coarse blend, where the included content is recognizable.
The seven ingredients included in this blend feature seven contrasting flavors that make the magical taste of this blend, helping it to stand out from the rest of the ordinary spice blends. Even though it is known to have seven spices, technically, it contains only five spices, while the other two are not spices but flavoring components.
In Japan, shichimi togarashi is commonly used as a versatile condiment to spice up various noodle dishes such as Udon Noodles. It is well-known to add an instant kick and boost the taste of savory foods, being the very reason why this blend has won over the hearts of many international food lovers apart from the Japanese.
What Does Shichimi Togarashi Taste Like?
This blend has a unique flavor combination of spicy, peppery, hot, and umami notes. The spiciness is achieved by the usage of ground chilies, ginger, and Szechuan peppercorns, while the sesame seeds and poppy seeds bring the texture. Orange peel adds an amazing touch of fruity, citrusy, sweet, floral kick, and the addition of the seaweed brings the umami flavor.
A Little Peek Into The History And Origins Of Shichimi Togarashi…
According to the sources, the origins of shichimi togarashi date back to 1625. It is believed to be first created in the Yagenbori herb shop in Tokyo. This means it was created when the Americans introduced chili peppers to Japan.
This spice blend was developed as a medicine and was originally sold to pharmacies owing to its medicinal properties, and then it was later marketed mainly as a seasoning. The company that invented Yagenbori Shichimi Togarashi still exists, and the product can still be seen around the market.
Over time, this blend became more extensively used throughout Japan when manufacturers initiated making their own versions. However, all blends maintain the indispensable seven ingredients, making it one of the staple Japanese table condiments.
What Ingredients Are Used In Shichimi Togarashi?
The flavor profile of each spice used in this blend is very different from one another, so they help to bring out the flavor diversity.
Spices In Shichimi Togarashi
- Red chiles– Traditionally, red chile pepper varieties belonging to the species capsicum annum are used to make this blend. In fact, the bulk of this mixture contains coarsely ground or flaked red chiles, which give the mix its characteristic hot and spicy flavor along with its vibrant color. However, we can see that cayenne pepper is also being used in the recipes produced in places apart from Japan.
- Sansho pepper/ Szechuan peppercorns– The traditional shichimi togarashi recipes are made with sansho peppers, while variants of this blend contain Szechuan peppercorns. Sasho pepper has a stronger citrusy note that could be compared to yuzu, but Szechuan peppercorns have a more pronounced peppery, mouth-numbing effect. However, both of these pepper types could essentially back up the rest of the flavors used in this mixture.
- Ground ginger– This spice adds a bit of a zing to this blend, teaming up with the robust flavor elements of ground chilies and peppers. Ginger ideally pairs with yuzu or orange peel while complementing the texture given by the sesame seeds and the flavor offered by the nori.
- Poppy seeds– This ingredient adds a distinctive nutty and woody flavor with a tinge of sweetness to shichimi togarashi. The interesting taste of this spice and the texture lend a remarkable consistency to this blend. Poppy seeds are well paired with sesame seeds/ hemp seeds, complementing the contrasting flavor notes of other piquant ingredients.
- Sesame seeds/ Hemp seeds– Most traditional shichimi togarashi recipes contain hemp seeds, while the rest include both black and white sesame seeds. Both hemp and sesame seeds hold a strong nutty element with sweet and milky undertones. These seeds also add up to the texture of this blend while adding a unique punch.
Other Ingredients In Shichimi Togarashi
- Orange peel/ Yuzu peel- The citrusy sing is a fundamental flavor note to this mix. Thus, while traditionally peel of yuzu fruit is used in shichimi togarashi, most variants use the zest of orange. The pleasant aroma, along with the citrusy, fruity, and slight bitter-sweet hints, are combined with a mild astringency to add up to the overall flavor profile of this blend.
- Nori– This is dried seaweed that is often available as sheets. This is another Japanese staple that is usually incorporated as a non-negotiable in this mix. Nori is recognized to have a unique oceany taste with both sweet and salty elements, which is accountable for the umami punch of our topic leader. Most of the time, nori flakes go into shichimi togarashi with the rest of the ingredients.
What Is Nanami Togarishi, And How Is It Different From Shichmi Togarishi?
Nanami togarishi is basically the same as shichimi togarashi, but they differ in the proportions of the ingredients used. In essence, Nanami togarashi contains more citrus peel than shichimi. And this blend is known to go well with seafood dishes.
Are Ichimi Togarashi And Shichimi Togarashi The Same?
Ichimi togarashi translates into “one-flavor chile powder,” which simply means this powder contains only red chile powder without any other add-ons that we usually find in shichimi togarashi. Therefore, Ichimi and shichimi are two completely different ingredients that you find in Japanese cuisine, where shichimi is more flavorful than Ichimi. In contrast, Ichimi is more piquant and hotter than shichimi togarashi.
Uses Of Shichimi Togarashi
The versatility of this spice blend is one other major reason for it to become so popular throughout Japanese cuisine and beyond. While this mix is widely popular as a condiment used alongside noodle dishes, it is also incorporated in the following ways:
- As an ingredient in marinades
- A rub for meat, seafood, and vegetables
- To incorporate into tempura batters
- To mix into salads
- It could be used to toss with snacks
- To jazz up soups
Shichimi Togarashi Substitutes
The tempting flavor profile of this blend is pretty challenging to replicate. But still, we could manage to find a handful of options that’ll potentially work in place of shichimi togarashi. And they are:
- Nanami togarashi
- Red chili flakes + sesame seeds + orange peel
- Chile powder + poppy seeds + orange peel
- Tajin seasoning
- Chili-lime seasoning
- Homemade shichimi togarashi
Does Shichimi Togarashi Contain Salt?
Although our topic leader works as a seasoning and a condiment in most places, it does not traditionally contain salt as an ingredient, unlike most other seasoning or spice blends. However, you could savor a hint of saltiness owing to the content of nori added to this.
Is Shichimi Togarashi Vegan?
Almost all the ingredients used in shichimi togarashi are plant-based, including nori. Therefore, this blend can be considered a safe pick by vegans.
Is Shichimi Togarashi Keto-Friendly?
Shichimi togarashi is made with spices and flavorings that are habitually low on carbs. Hence, this could be an excellent addition if you are tracking a ketogenic diet.
Does Shichimi Togarashi Contain MSG?
Generally, artificial flavor enhancers like MSG are not a part of shichimi togarashi. But read the list of ingredients if you are buying this product from the store, just to make sure.
A Sprinkle Of Exotic Shichimi Togarashi Has The Absolute Magic To Transform Your Dishes!
Shichimi togarashi is a flavorful blend that introduces a whole new flavor dimension to our foods with exceptional depth. The wonderful combination of ground chile pepper, sesame seed, crushed nori, citrus zest, etc., creates enchantment as a versatile condiment and an ingredient.