If you’ve eaten at any Japanese noodle restaurant, you’ve probably come across a small shaker or wooden block filled with red-coloured spice – that’s shichimi. The seasoning, also known as shichimi togarashi, is a seven-spice blend that’s been around since the Edo period (1603-1868).
Today, the blend varies depending on the region it’s from, but typically the mix includes red pepper, sesame seeds, poppy seeds, hemp seeds, nori (dried seaweed), sansho pepper, and orange or yuzu peel. Although shichimi contains a fair amount of pepper, it’s actually not that spicy; it just adds an extra depth of flavour to any bowl of udon, soba or even nabe hotpot. Shichimi is also popular for sprinkling on meat dishes such as yakitori and gyudon beef bowls.