Japanese food utilizes complex layers of flavor to achieve sour, sweet, spicy, salty, acidic, and umami flavors throughout a dish. Japanese cooks know that they are looking to elevate the ingredients through seasoning, not mask them. The goal? Create a perfect balance of flavor in the final dish.
One seasoning used by Japanese cooks to add spice and flavor complexity, without adding additional sodium, is shichimi togarashi. Let’s take a look at this common Japanese spice blend that may not be as well-known to American cooks.
Japanese Blend of Seven Spices
Shichimi togarashi is a blend of seven peppers and spices designed to add both heat and depth of flavor to your dishes. It is often called “seven spice”, since “shichi” is the Japanese word for “seven.” You may also see it labeled as nanami. What are the spices included in this blend?
- Red chili pepper
- Orange peel
- Sesame seeds
- Japanese sansho pepper (similar to black pepper)
- Poppy seeds
- Seaweed (flaked nori)
Similar to chili sauce in its usage, shichimi togarashi is added to dishes that need an extra helping of heat and spice. Use with caution at first to see how much heat you would like added to you dish. Remember, you can always add more, but you can’t take it away!
What Dishes are Best for Shichimi Togarashi?
As a flavor and spice booster, shichimi togarashi is perfect for adding a depth of flavor without adding sodium from soy sauce or salt. Traditional Japanese dishes utilize that shichimi togarashi include:
- Donburi (rice bowls)
- Miso soup
Add a dash of shichimi togarashi to mayonnaise and soy sauce to create a savory salad dressing or dip for vegetables. It is also a great flavoring agent for miso. Mix miso and shichimi togarashi, let it steep, and you’ve got an excellent flavoring for stir-fries or onigiri. You could even try a sprinkle on top of your Bloody Mary to add a unique kick to a traditional cocktail!
Even if you’ve never heard of this spice blend, here at Umami Insider we’ll help you identify flavor profiles, recipes, and dishes that would benefit from a sprinkle of shichimi togarashi!