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During my recent visit to Japan, I was lucky enough to visit a spice shop in Tokyo's Asakusa neighborhood that had been blending its own shichimi togarashi—a ubiquitous-in-Japan spice mix known for it's many-layered flavors—for over 400 years.
It was a cacophonous pocket in the wall with a little slice of counter where the shop's proprietor carefully spooned sesame seeds and chile flakes, among other ingredients, into a wooden bowl to whatever spice level a customer preferred. He'd then swiftly stir everything together and bring the spicy-citrusy umami bomb to your nose for approval. It was the very best kind of food experience to have while traveling—something familiar enough to navigate without too many words, yet unfamiliar enough to feel special, specific. We bought several packets of the spice mix to tote back to the States.
You'll find that togarashi is a staple at ramen shops and more across Japan—but less so stateside. So when I flipped to the back of Lukas Volger's new cookbook, Bowl, and saw a recipe for his own togarashi blend, I immediately wanted to make my own at home too. Togarashi blends differ depending on who you ask, but Lukas's version consists of toasted nori, toasted sesame seeds, dried orange or tangerine zest, black pepper, red pepper flakes, and dried, minced garlic. And it's the kind of thing you want to sprinkle on every bowl of rice thereafter—or use in these 17 other ways:
Scatter it across eggs and friends.
Add it to pickling brine.
Top off a bowl of soup.
Stir it into a marinade.
Roll a cheeseball in it.
Add it to avocados.
Shake it on scones or biscuits.
- 3 2-inch squares toasted nori
- 1-1/2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
- 1-1/2 teaspoons dried orange or tangerine zest
- 1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 3/4 teaspoon dried minced garlic