Dating back as far as the 1600s, shichimi togarashi is a vibrant condiment that started life as a medicine mixed by herb & spice dealers in Edo- old Tokyo- before becoming popular as a seasoning for food. The combination of citrus, chilli and seaweed flavours make it a perfect accompaniment to slow cooked soups and fatty meats, or whenever you want to add a bit of freshness and heat to a dish. There are many popular blends of shichimi togarashi (the name means ‘seven flavour chilli’ by the way) available on the market, but when made fresh at home it has a much brighter flavour, and of course you have the ability to tweak the recipe to your liking.
By mixing our shichimi with salt and sugar, we’ve made a delicious seasoning for an izakaya favourite- renkon chips. With a flavour slightly sweeter than potato and a long history of being used medicinally, lotus root makes a perfect partner to the seasoning and when thinly sliced and fried as chips it makes a fantastic bar snack.
Shichimi Togarashi ingredients.
- 4 teaspoons chilli flakes (we used medium heat Korean chilli flakes)
- 1 teaspoon ground sansho
- 1 teaspoon dried tangerine peel
- 1 teaspoon aonori flakes
- 1 teaspoon hulled hemp seeds
- 1 teaspoon black sesame seeds
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- Mix together the chilli flakes, tangerine peel and aonori flakes. Pass this mixture through a spice mill or clean coffee grinder until you have a coarse powder, you want to still be able to identify each of these ingredients so don’t grind it too finely.
- Add the ground mixture to the rest of the ingredients and stir well to combine. Following the ratios for the shichimi makes it very easy to change the proportions to make as much or as little as you like. This shichimi is best used within a month of being made, but will last for up to six months in an airtight container.
If you can’t find dried tangerine peel, it’s extremely easy to make at home. Using a vegetable peeler, peel the outside layer from two or three tangerines avoiding the white pithy layers. Place this peel on a tray in a very low oven for four hours or until it is brittle, then grind through a spice mill as above.
Renkon Chips ingredients.
- 300g renkon (lotus root)
- 2 teaspoons shichimi togarashi
- 2 teaspoons fine sea salt
- 1 teaspoon caster sugar
- 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
- oil for deep frying
- Prepare some acidulated water by mixing 500ml cold water and the vinegar together in a bowl. Peel your renkon and remove any thin connecting sections at the top and bottom of each lobe, then using a mandoline or a knife, cut it into 2mm thick slices. Immediately place the renkon slices into the water and vinegar to prevent it from discolouring.
- While the renkon is soaking in the water, put about six or seven centimetres of cooking oil into a saucepan or deep frying pan and slowly heat to around 180ºC.
- Drain the renkon slices well and pat them dry with a paper towel before adding a third of them to the hot oil. Fry them until they are golden brown, about five minutes, then drain with a mesh strainer and place on a kitchen roll lined plate to dry. Repeat this process for the remaining two thirds of the slices.
- Combine the shichimi togarashi, sugar and sea salt in a small bowl, then dredge this mixture over the renkon chips. Gently toss the chips to ensure the seasoning is evenly distributed before serving.
Serves 2 greedy people, or 4 as a snack.