WHAT IS IT?
The name shichimi togarashi in Japanese means “seven flavor chile”. The mixture actually contains more than seven ingredients and plenty of “flavor” that boarders spicy, pungent, and savory.
Shichimi togarashi is unusually spicy by Japanese standards. Its signature is an abrupt heat that passes quickly. It is somewhat sour, with a bitter orange note, quite nutty, and, like my teenager, a tad salty.
All of the Japanese manufacture of the spice is exactly seven spices. Makers in other parts of the world depart from the Japanese recipe.
The spice is most commonly called Yagenbori, in Japan, after the maker of the most popular brand.
What are the seven ingredients in the Yagenbori version?
- Japanese sansho pepper;
- Roasted dry capsicum;
- Dried capsicum;
- Dried Satsuma orange peel;
- Black sesame seeds;
- Hemp seeds;
- Poppy seeds.
Shichimiya includes dried shisho. Yawata’s replaces the orange peel with ginger, and aonori seaweed for the dried capiscum.
The spice originated in Japan, with three principal makers: Yagenbori; Shichimiya; and Yawataya Isogorō. Today, it is produced all over the world, with many manufacturers, especially in North America, and Europe.
EDITOR’S NOTE ABOUT SELECTION
We generally like to bring you as close to the “real thing” as we can. Japanese food products still suffer from that nation’s protective tariffs on foodstuffs, and beverages, along with other nations’ reciprocal tariffs, that make their price insanely artificially higher. Yawataya, which is available in North America, goes for over US $20.39/oz!
House Foods’ brand-dominant version is available, in little bottles that look like the real thing, with Japanese labeling, available at Asian grocers, and most American super-box grocery stores. It is made in the U.S.
We find that SpiceJungle.com produces an exceptional product that is true to the spirit of the Japanese, at a fraction of the cost, and therefore recommend it as our “go-to” brand.
- Added to ramen; udon; fish; meat;
- Baked topping for rice crackers
- Table condiment
A FEW IMPROVISATIONAL RIFFS:
- Rub for pork belly for my Radical Ramen;
- The seasoning finish to a sesame oil ahi tuna and orzo cold pasta dish;
- Fresh shiitake mushroom, scallop and hamachi white pizza;
- Asian street corn on the cob – Covered with butter, mayo, yuzu, and topped with shichimi togarashi
The peppers needed to make shichimi togarashi probably arrived in 1592, when General Hideyoshi’s troops returned from a campaign in Korea, where spicy peppers are far more common. It could have also been brought in by Portuguese missionaries.
We do know that, spicy peppers were grown in Japan around 1610, for medicinal purposes. By 1625, the first Shichimi Togarashi was being made in Edo, current day Tokyo, by an herb dealer known as Yagenbori who was looking for a “healthy” additive to a culinary spice blend. Everyone needs a good “hook” in marketing.
Yagenbori is, to this spice, what Heinz is to American ketchup. It’s the go-to brand name. Two other principal manufacturers of the spice blend popped up: Shichimiya Honpo, in 1655, in Kyoto; and Yawataya Isogoro, in 1720, of Nagano.
395 years later, Yagenbori, is still in operation. If you visit their store, you can get the spice hotter, or medium, or go for more flavor and have a custom mix made to taste, in one of the wooden, or gourd-based containers that are traditional.
- Japanese seven spice;
Get top quality from our friends at SpiceJungle.