If you are a Japanese cuisine fan, you for sure have heard of togarashi and maybe even tried it. But if you have not heard of such a sauce, this article will open for you the world of Japanese cuisine. You may be surprised that togarashi is a Japanese sauce since Japanese cuisine is not spicy, but trust me, this cuisine has a lot to impress you with.
What Is Togarashi Sauce?
Togarashi is a Japanese mix of seasoning and spices which includes red chili, hemp seed, citrus peel, poppy seeds, sansho, sesame seeds, and seaweed. Other variations may include ginger and garlic. The most common type of togarashi is called shichimi togarashi which means “7 spice blend”.
Togashi Sauce 101 – All You Need to Know
Togarashi dates to 17th (1625) century Japan, and more specifically Edo, which is now known as Tokyo. Firstly it was sold in pharmacies, but then people started using it for seasoning and it became a hit throughout Japan. However, togarashi has roots in Chinese herbal medicine.
In addition to great taste, togarashi has the medical effect of preventing the flu because its content is similar to Chinese herbal medicine for flu cure.
What Is Togarashi Sauce Made Of?
Togarashi Shichimi – the original mix – consists of a fabulous blend of seven spices. They include red chili, sansho (ground Japanese pepper), hemp, poppy and sesame seeds, citrus peel (orange), and seaweed (most often nori). And creamy togarashi sauce is made by adding mayo.
There are several types of togarashi mix:
- Togarashi shichimi – is the classic mix of seven spices. Togarashi shichimi is translated as “seven flavors of chili pepper” since the blend has seven spices.
- Sansho shichimi togarashi has the same ingredients list as the previous one but with a bigger amount of sansho pepper for an intense taste.
- Yuzu shichimi togarashi has five ingredients, the main one is yuzu fruit. Yuzu is a citrus fruit common in East Asia with a sour and slightly sweet taste. Five ingredients of the sauce include chili pepper, sansho pepper, seaweeds, sesame seeds, and yuzu peel. It has more citrus and sweet taste compared to other variations. At the same time, it is milder since it has less amount of chili pepper.
- Nanami togarashi is similar to yuzu togarashi since it is milder and more citrusy. It has six spices on the list – chili pepper, sansho pepper, ginger, orange peel, sesame seeds, and seaweed.
Is Togarashi Spice Vegan?
Togarashi spice mix is completely vegan since it has only plant-based spices. However, if we are talking about togarashi sauce then it depends. Original togarashi sauce has mayo. But nowadays a lot of brands suggest vegan sauces with vegan mayo or sour cream.
What Does Togarashi Sauce Taste Like?
Togarashi sauce, being a mix of spices, has a rich taste with spicy, slightly sweet, zesty, and umami flavor. The taste ranges from very hot to mild depending on the amount of chili pepper. Citrus peels give a zesty, acidic taste and seaweed (nori) adds some umami notes.
Togarashi blend has a multi-layered taste. Chili pepper brings a strong spicy taste. Sansho has a spicy citrus flavor which, together with citrus peels, brings a refreshing zesty taste with a note of bitterness. Sesame, poppy, and hemp seeds add texture and nutty flavor, and seaweed introduces umami notes to the rich taste of the sauce. Don’t be overwhelmed by the play of different tastes and notes.
Creamy togarashi sauce with a combination of mayo, sour cream, honey, rice vinegar, and sriracha sauce has a well-balanced mild creamy taste with spicy and sweet notes.
Is Togarashi Sweet?
Togarashi sauce is not sweet in the general meaning of the word. It is spicy with sweet floral notes of orange. The unique taste of balanced hot and sweet notes is perfect for salads, rice dishes, noodles, and even soups.
Is Togarashi Salty?
Togarashi does not contain salt to be considered salty in the usual sense. However, the blend of ingredients especially pepper and nori seaweed create slightly salty umami flavor notes. However, you may add salt to homemade creamy togarashi sauce to add some extra flavor.
Togarashi Sauce Recipe
Togarashi sauce is extremely easy to make at home, so do not get upset if you cannot find it in the shops or markets. Shop sauce cannot beat homemade one made with the secret ingredient, which is love. Finding all the necessary spices may seem a bit difficult and troublesome, so you are free to modify the recipe to create your variation. You can regulate the level of heat and the number of ingredients.
For the Togarashi seasoning blend you need:
- Red pepper powder or crushed flakes;
- Japanese pepper powder;
- Sesame seeds;
- Hemp seeds;
- Poppy seeds;
- Crushed seaweed (nori);
- Citrus peel (orange suits better).
- Optional ingredients are ginger and garlic.
All you need to do is mix the ingredients thoroughly. A blender works well for this purpose. That’s all it takes.
If you are craving a creamy taste with spicy and sweet notes, try creamy togarashi sauce. The creamy flavor perfectly balances the heat of spices and works well with grilled vegetables, meat, and salads.
- 1 tablespoon of Togarashi blend of spices;
- ½ cup of Kewpie mayonnaise;
- ¼ cup of sour cream;
- 1 tablespoon of Sriracha sauce;
- 1 tablespoon of rice vinegar;
- 1 teaspoon of honey.
- Add mayo, sour cream, and sriracha sauce in one bowl and mix them with a whisk or fork;
- Add all other ingredients to the mayo and mix it.
- Adjust heat, sweetness, and salt to your taste and serve.
Remember that there is no generally accepted recipe for the sauce, you can experiment and find your perfect balance. For the vegan option, change mayo and sour cream to vegan ones. And if you do not particularly enjoy spicy food, do not add sriracha sauce and chili pepper.
Where To Buy Togarashi Sauce?
Even though Togarashi sauce is Japanese, it is not that hard to find around the world. Japanese food is becoming more popular every day, and you can find Togarashi in the spices section of supermarkets, and Asian markets or order it online.
No need to look for Japanese brands of Togarashi seasoning or sauce, many popular local brands are now producing their versions of the sauce.
Pairing Togarashi Sauce – What To Eat With Togarashi Sauce?
There are several ways of using Togarashi as a sauce, condiment, spice, or dipping. Traditionally it is added to sushi, noodles, ramen, and rice dishes. But more western dishes such as fried chicken, French fries, burgers, or even popcorn also pair well with Togarashi.
The easiest way is to sprinkle seasoning on the top of rice dishes, be it plain or fried rice, noodles, or ramen soup. Meat tastes excellent with togarashi, especially grilled chicken or pork steaks. Moreover, you can add togarashi to the marinade before baking chicken or pork. The Umami flavor of nori perfectly pairs with seafood – grilled fish, shrimp, or lobsters. As you can see, sauce’s usage, as well as your imagination, is limitless.
How To Store Togarashi Sauce?
Togarashi seasoning, like any other spice, lasts for several years if stored correctly. Spices in a glass bottle are stored in a dry cool place in the cupboard. Creamy togarashi sauce is stored in an airtight jar in the refrigerator for up to three weeks.
Togarashi seasoning is sensitive to light and humidity, therefore, it is better to keep it in a cool, dry place. Since it is a mix of spices, it does not require special conditions for storage. The only requirement if you want to keep all the flavors, is to store spices in an airtight container. However, if it is homemade togarashi, it is best to consume it within a month.
Things change for creamy togarashi sauce. Since it has mayo and sour cream, it can be stored only in the fridge in an airtight container or a jar.
How Long Does Togarashi Sauce Last?
As with other spices, togarashi lasts for several years in an airtight jar or container. It does not need to be kept in the fridge or freezer. However, as opposed to togarashi seasoning, creamy togarashi sauce is good only for three weeks if kept in the fridge in an airtight jar.
If you have tried all possible sauces already and are looking for something new, try togarashi sauce. You will be surprised by how perfectly balanced it is in its hot, sweet, and umami flavors. It is universal – you can adjust almost every aspect of the sauce and pair it with literally everything. If you are still not persuaded, just try it. Other sauces will fade from your life.
Togarashi Sauce FAQ
Is Togarashi Korean?
No, Togarashi is not Korean. Togarashi was invented in Japan in the distant 17th century. The inventor was inspired by Chinese herbal medicine though. Therefore, togarashi has not only excellent taste but also preventive and healing medicinal properties.
Is Togarashi the Same as 7 Spices?
Yes, togarashi is also known as the Japanese 7 spices. Everything is simple, togarashi consists of seven different spices – chili pepper, sansho pepper, sesame, hemp and poppy seeds, seaweed, and orange peels.
What Spice Is Similar to Togarashi?
The most similar spice to togarashi is furikake. Even though it has a more fishy umami taste, its taste profile resembles togarashi. The main difference is that furikake does not have chili pepper, therefore, it is not as spicy and hot as togarashi.
How Do You Eat Togarashi?
Togarashi seasoning is usually sprinkled over noodles, rice dishes, salads, or even popcorn. It also can be added to the marinade for meat and fish. As a dipping sauce, it is used with French fries and vegetable sticks. Even boring morning eggs will be more interesting with togarashi sauce.