Many Americans like to shake hot sauce on their food. But what about hot spices?
In addition to black pepper and chile flakes, there’s shichimi togarashi (she-CHEE-me toe-gah-RAH-she—photo #1).
Known simply as shichimi in Japan, it’s a seven-ingredient spice blend (shichi is “seven” in Japanese, togarashi is red pepper).
The spice blend dates at least to the 17th century, when it was produced by herb dealers in Edo (modern Tokyo).
How trending is it? McCormick sells it in U.S. supermarkets, as Japanese Seven Spice (photo #3).
Blends vary by producer, but the blends aim for a combination of hot, citrus, sea and nutty flavors. Unlike hot sauces, which can deliver tongue-tingling heat, the aim of shichimi is to deliver a medium-hot, complex heat that elevates the flavor profile of a dish.
Typical ingredients include:
Hot red chile peppers
Sansho pepper pods
Roasted orange or yuzu peel
Black and white sesame seeds
Hemp or poppy seeds
Other ingredients may be used, including rapeseed for the seeds, and shiso for the seaweed.
HOW TO USE IT
Shichimi is traditionally sprinkled on:
Chicken yakitori and other grilled meats
Gyudon (beef bowl)
Marinades, with soy, vinegar and scallions
Udon and ramen soups
It is incorporated into products such as rice cakes, roasted rice crackers and crunchy snacks.
You can use shichimi togarashi in American fare: anywhere you’d like to add some heat. How about:
Avocado toast or guacamole
Burgers and fries
Fried calamari and other fried foods
Hot dog garnish
Popcorn (photo #4)
Tex-Mex (especially fish tacos)
Caramel and chocolate sauces
Cheesecake (shake some into the crust)
Ice cream and sorbet
You can also use it in and on sweets:
For beverages, consider using the spice as a glass rimmer for a Bloody Mary, shaken with, or sprinkled over a cocktail as a garnish. Má Pêche restaurant in Manhattan infuses shichimi into high-alcohol saké.
As is often noted, the only limit is your imagination.
 Shichimi togarashi (photo Colourbox | Yahoo).
 American spice shops are mixing their own blends. This one is from Oaktown Spice Shop in Oakland, California.
 Worldwide spice giant McCormick sells Japanese Seven Spice, subtitled Shichimi Togarashi Seasoning (photo McCormick).
 Spicy-sweet shichimi popcorn. Here’s the recipe from Turntable Kitchen.
MAKE YOUR OWN SHICHIMI TOGARASHI BLEND
You can buy the spice, or make your own blend with 2 tablespoons sansho or 1 tablespoon black peppercorns, 1 tablespoon dried orange peel, 1 tablespoon ground red chile pepper, 2 teaspoons flaked nori, 2 teaspoons black sesame seeds, 2 teaspoons white poppy seeds and 2 teaspoons nori flakes.
Crack the peppercorns with a mallet, and blend all ingredients. Keep in a tightly-sealed jar.
We love this recipe for Tofu Fritters with shichimi.
Check out these recipes from Oaktown Spice Shop, for:
Baked Miso-Shichimi Eggplant
Crispy Shichimi Togarashi Chicken Cutlets
Japanese Noodle Soup with Shichimi Togarashi
Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Shichimi Togarashi
Shichimi Togarashi Baked Tofu
Spicy Sweet Shichimi Togarashi Popcorn
More Recipe Ideas