Shichimi togarashi is also marketed as Japanese seven-spice powder, which may give westerners the impression that this spice mix bears some similarity to Chinese five-spice powder. However, the two spice blends are very different.
Shichimi togarashi is the product of a company called Yagenbori Shichimi Togarashi that has been in business for almost 400 years. Chili peppers were originally used as a medicine until 1625 when a spice merchant and Chinese medicine practitioner in Edo (now Tokyo) began packaging it as a part of a seasoning blend that would eventually become shichimi togarashi.
Shichimi togarashi’s popularity as a condiment would really take off when soba noodles arrived later on.
Along with the original producer, other companies that make and sell the spice blend include Shichimiya Honpo. Shichimiya Honpo has been in business since 1655.
Shichimi togarashi flavor profile
Like most other spice blends, the exact ingredients vary according to local tradition and between individual cooks. It is possible to purchase blends customized to your preferences. The most common ingredients include sansho powder, orange peel, and black sesame seeds along with hemp seeds and nori. The typical blend provides a spicy sweetness that perfectly complements the clean flavors of Japanese food.
Health benefits of shichimi togarashi
The health benefits of this spice blend will vary depending on the ingredients in a particular blend as each spice brings its own group of nutrients to the table. A shichimi togarashi blend can include many nutritious compounds like:
- Vitamins: Ginger, orange peel and black sesame seeds are all excellent sources of B-complex vitamins like B-6 and B-5. Hemp seed alone contains high levels of vitamin A along with vitamins D and E. It is also a good source of B-complex vitamins.
- Minerals: Nori, hemp seed, and black sesame seed are abundant in minerals. Between them, they provide you with a considerable amount of calcium as well as magnesium and iron. Ginger also offers a significant mineral content with 10 percent of your daily potassium requirement and 25 percent of your copper requirement per 100 g serving.
- Antioxidants: One of the reasons for hemp seeds’ popularity is the fact that they are rich in omega 3 fatty acids that help to reduce inflammation and can also lower your risk of heart disease.
The spices in shichimi togarashi are useful for the treatment and prevention of various health conditions such as:
- Osteoporosis: There are several high-calcium and high-magnesium ingredients in shichimi togarashi. Both of those minerals are important for building bone and preserving bone density, which means that the spice blend should be useful as a supplement to other sources of calcium to help maintain bone health.
- Digestive ailments: Ginger is a well-known treatment for nausea, bloating and similar problems. The ginger component of shichimi togarashi may be helpful in aiding digestion and providing relief from various problems that affect the gastrointestinal tract.
- Thyroid problems: The iodine in nori is important for thyroid function. The thyroid produces hormones that control metabolism. Iodine is also important for the development of fetuses and infants.
Common uses of shichimi togarashi
The traditional use for shichimi togarashi is as a condiment to be sprinkled over soba or udon noodles, rice or yakitori to give them added flavor. You can also use it as a flavorful topping for various grilled meats, vegetables or for fried foods. Use it to make a crust on your seared tuna or add it to ground beef when making burger patties.