If you’ve ever been to a Japanese restaurant, specifically one that serves ramen or soups, you might notice a small shaker bottle on the table with bright red flakes inside of it. This little capsule packs a spicy and citrusy powder called togarashi. So what is togarashi?
Togarashi itself translates to “chili pepper” in Japanese; however, you’re usually looking at shichimi togarashi which is a blend of spices. Sichimi togarashi includes dried chili peppers, dried sesame seeds, dried orange peel, dried seaweed, and dried ginger. The blend can also include dried garlic, yuzu, poppy seed, or hemp seeds. If you wanted just straight chili pepper you’d look for ichimi togarashi.
Togarashi makes a great spicy mayo blend, can be added as a condiment to noodles, ramen, or soups, or lightly sprinkled on top of vegetables.
Now, some of you might be wondering: considering its proximity could you substitute ichimi togarashi for gochugaru? One being dried chili peppers from Japan vs dried chili peppers from Korea. The short answer is, sort of. The commonality stops with the fact that they’re both dried chili peppers. The flavors will be different. The way I would look at it is that if I’ve made something with ichimi togarashi, maybe I try to riff off of it with gochugaru and see what kind of difference it makes in the dish. I could try something like honey glazed roasted carrots with a sprinkle of ichimi togarashi and then try the same with a sprinkle of gochugaru, or a deviled egg with the yolk mixed with mustard and a spicy mayo made from either chili, or maybe a citrus and fennel salad, lightly dressed in lime juice and sesame oil with a light sprinkling of the chili powders…or…well, maybe you just let me know.