Make Ahead

Togarashi Blend

January 28, 2022
0 Ratings
Photo by Bobbi Lin
  • Prep time 5 minutes
  • Cook time 5 minutes
  • makes About ¼ cup
Author Notes

Togarashi, which translates to “Japanese chili pepper,” is commonly available as spice blends like shimi togarashi and nanami togarashi. Ramen shops usually have vial-like containers of them at the table, and they’re also easy to find at Japanese markets. Most recipes contain dried chiles, peppercorns, sesame seeds, and nori, as well as a number of variable items; the umami flavor of the nori is the standout. I keep a store-bought bottle on hand, but it’s just as easy to make it, and a fresh homemade batch showcases the citrus zest. It’s a wonderful thing for dishes that need a kick—I love it on avocado toast and hard-boiled eggs. Experiment with the zest; grapefruit is a great alternative to orange.

Text excerpted from BOWL © 2016 by Lukas Volger. Reproduced by permission of Rux Martin Books/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved. —Lukas Volger

Test Kitchen Notes

If you're not a spice blend believer, then you really should give this togarashi recipe a try. Though it features just a few ingredients, a small amount of it really packs a punch and gives huge flavor to whatever dish it's complementing. You'll find a ton of variations of togarashi throughout Japan, and as the developer said, you can buy some premade at Asian markets, or give it a try for yourself when you go out for ramen. But why not make your own at home? The best part is that you can adjust the ratios of the ingredients to suit your tastes. This recipe only requires some toasted nori, toasted sesame seeds, dried fruit zest, black pepper, red pepper flakes, and dried garlic—that's it! You probably have most of the ingredients on hand already. So be sure to taste as you go for that perfect balance. If you'd rather have more garlic than citrus zest, go for it. Or if you want a little more a punch, you can up the amount of red pepper flakes, etc.

The only "cooking" you have to do is to toast the nori over a gas burner or roast under a broiler for a few seconds for it to crisp up. Simply grind everything together and your spice blend is ready to go. You can store it in your pantry for up to a month, and you'll find yourself reaching for it over and over again whenever you want to give some extra umami to your pickled vegetables, rice, ramen, and salads. —The Editors

What You'll Need
  • 3 (2-inch) squares toasted nori
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried orange or tangerine zest
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds, divided
  • 1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 3/4 teaspoon dried minced garlic
  1. Wave the nori over the flame of a gas burner a few times, until the corners curl and they turn crisp, or roast under a broiler, turning periodically. Break up into small pieces and transfer to a spice grinder or mortar. Add the zest, half of the sesame seeds, the black pepper, red pepper flakes, and garlic. Pulse or pound with a pestle until a coarse, dry mixture forms, then stir in the remaining sesame seeds.
  2. Do Ahead: The togarashi can be made 1 month ahead. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Micki Balder
    Micki Balder
  • SweetArlene
I'm the author of BOWL and 2 other cookbooks, founder of the Made by Lukas line of fresh veggie burgers, and editorial director of Jarry.

2 Reviews

Micki B. March 17, 2016
Are you drying the garlic and citrus zest yourself?
SweetArlene March 17, 2016
My favorite way to spice up homemade popcorn!