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Lucky Seven

Shichimi togarashi (pronounced schh-CHEE-mee toh-guh-RAH-schee), can be quite a tongue-twister for most Westerners but when translated into English it simply means,"Seven Spice"-- now that's easy.

Japanese Seven Spice is a mixture of seven flavors that delight the palate and tickles the nose, comprised mostly of chile peppers and various ingredients. And no, Japanese Seven Spice is not Chinese Five Spice with two more ingredients -- they couldn't be more different. Being that both, the Chinese and the Japanese, have created their own distinct spice versions native to their cuisines, the 5 spice powder is more fragrant with sweeter overtones of anise flavors; and the Japanese seven spice is well, spicier with chile peppers bringing in the heat factor.

Traditionally, the seven spice blend can vary according to the purveyor, but usually it begins by building upon the red chile peppers, and adding dried orange or tangerine peel, peppercorns, black and white sesame seeds, dried ginger, and seaweed. We think the seven spice blend may have been introduced to Japanese cooking during the 17th century when chile peppers were used to cure certain ailments.

The seven spice mixture might be full-on in the initial taste according to the standards of Japanese cooking, but that snappiness quickly dissipates as the flavors subtly linger and your taste-buds roll over in ecstasy. But, really this Japanese spice blend should be called the lucky 7 because it has the perfect layers of aromatic fragrance and flavors with hints of zesty sweet citrus, the saltiness of seaweed, along with the nuttiness of the sesame seeds, the zing of ginger, and of course the heat of chile peppers - a lucky combination if you ask me.

Japanese Seven Spice is such a versatile blend, because it not only delivers great layers of flavor and fragrance, it also adds color and texture to any dish. And the mixture does not really need toasting to bring out the full flavors, so it works superbly as a table condiment, which is the way most Japanese people use it with their meals. You can also use it beforehand as a marinade for meat and sauces.

Our all-purpose Japanese Seven Spice blend is made with Korean chile peppers, roasted white & black sesame seeds, ginger, roasted seaweed, brown sugar, Japanese sea salt, cayenne, and orange peel. It tastes great on seafood, pork, poultry, beef, stir-fries, and rice or noodles. Perhaps after you have experimented with Seven Spice, you will fall in love with this lucky seven combination.

For now, here's a tasty way to get you started using Shichimi Togarashi with this easy stir fry recipe:

Tofu Fried Rice - click link