Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Shichimi Tougarashi 七味唐辛子

This is going to be the first in a new series of articles about some of the awesome food ingredients and condiments that have come out of Japan.  I pride myself on my willingness to experiment with new foods, and I found that most of the crazy stuff I have ever tried over the years has been really good!  So, without further ado, here is my first ingredient of discussion: Shichimi Tougarashi!

Shichimi
Shichimi Tougarashi, more commonly known as just "shichimi" is a Japanese tabletop spice, composed of seven different flavors, that can be sprinkled over just about anything to make it 7X more awesome!  It is comprised of ground chili pepper, sichuan pepper, black and white sesame seeds, hemp seed, ground ginger and seaweed.  In fact, the very word "Shichimi" (七味) means "seven flavors". 

Shichimi, in all its colorful glory.
On the flip side, there is another variety of tougarashi (spice) similar to shichimi called, "Ichimi" (一味) which means "one flavor".  Ichimi is just a bottle of crushed red peppers, for those who care not for all that extra nonsense and would rather just torture themselves instead.  Both are very popular items and can be found at nearly any Asian food market across the USA, I imagine, but in my experience, shichimi is the more popular.  I remember seeing bottles of shichimi at most Japanese restaurants while only a few carried his fiery older brother ichimi. 

一味 on the left and 七味 on the right.
My wife and I go through the stuff like it has a shelf life of a week (it's actually closer to about three years) and, while it is a little pricey, it is very much worth the cost.  We sprinkle it on all kinds of dishes such as tofu, tonkatsu, ramen, or just on a plain bowl of white rice.  It really kicks it up a notch (bam!) and I highly recommend picking some up if you ever get the opportunity.

Shichimi in a traditional spice vessel, common at many Japanese restaurants.
じゃあ、ね!

3 comments:

  1. It's pretty much the greatest thing since ramen, and who would guess? They go together!

    Please tell me that there will be an okonomiyaki article and recipe coming our way.

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  2. I've got some plans for instructional cooking videos in the works. :)

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  3. Put too much of this stuff in your food and you'll get a heart attack!!!! That's why I love it sooooooo much!

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