Shichimi togarashi is also sold as Japanese seven spice powder and is a popular seasoning for soups and noodles. It can also be used as a rub or crust on grilled meat and seafood. It exemplifies the main characteristics of Japanese cuisine with its uniquely bold but clean flavors. While there are no spice blends that can perfectly replicate its flavor, there are a few decent substitutes.
Your best bet: Make your own
As with most traditional spice mixes, the ingredients in shichimi togarashi can vary according to what the cook wants. However, the ingredients are usually chosen from a list of about 10 spices that includes red pepper flakes, roasted orange peel and sansho powder. To make your own version of shichimi togarashi, simply combine the spices you need to achieve your desired flavor profile. Along with the three spices above, you can use nori flakes along with ginger and hemp seeds to make your blend more complex and authentic. See a complete recipe here.
The easiest way to mix shichimi togarashi is to use the same amount of all the ingredients, though some people use a higher ratio of the chili flakes for a hotter flavor profile.
A decent second choice: Nanami togarashi
Nanami togarashi is essentially the same spice blend as shichimi togarashi but with a stronger citrus flavor. You can use it in exactly the same way that you would use shichimi togarashi. This blend may be preferable in dishes where you want more of the citrus notes than is available in most shichimi togarashi blends. Nanami togarashi’s stronger emphasis on citrus makes it an excellent complement to seafood dishes.
In a pinch: Dukkah
The flavors and textures provided by nuts and seeds are among the most notable aspects of shichimi togarashi. Dukkah blends typically contain sesame seeds, just like shichimi togarashi. Some blends contain hazelnuts as well. The nutty flavor profile is what makes it a good stand-in. In addition, dukkah is often used as a crust for grilled meats and as a condiment for cooked foods.
Use dukkah in exactly the same way and the same amount that your recipe suggests for shichimi togarashi.
Za’atar is a Middle Eastern spice blend with several different regional variations, some of which are similar to shichimi togarashi. Like shichimi togarashi, it serves as both a crust for grilled meats and as a condiment. It also includes sesame seeds to help provide a nutty flavor and crunchy texture. The Lebanese variant has orange peel, which can provide the citrus notes of the roasted orange peel in shichimi togarashi. Note that most za’atar blends also contain both thyme and oregano, which may not complement all the dishes that require shichimi togarashi.
The furikake seasoning blend consists of nori along with dried and ground fish as well as sesame seeds and salt. Variations can include miso and wasabi. While it does have some flavor notes of shichimi togarashi, some blends can have strong flavors that may not work in all dishes that require shichimi togarashi.
The West African spice mix known as tsire might seem a stretch as a shichimi togarashi substitute, but it provides two of the main flavor components: nuttiness and heat. Those two flavors make it a workable alternative to shichimi togarashi.