How to use this Japanese All-Purpose Seasoning Like a Pro:
Ask any professional cook what they use to make flavors pop and they’ll almost always answer “salt.” Ask a Japanese cook how to give that same kind of kick to foods that might be fried, or grilled, or mixed in with noodles and broths, and chances are they’ll say, “togarashi.”
[Pictured Above: Togarashi Pepper Shiitake Rice Bowl]
Unlike a typical all-purpose seasoning whose primary ingredient is salt, togarashi – the Japanese word for chile – is a pepper-based blend (a chile pepper blend to be exact).
A pepper-based blend can be considered an all-purpose seasoning in that it brightens flavors. However, pepper-based blends work a little differently than salt-based blends. Peppers (including chile peppers) alert the brain to pay attention to what’s on the tongue. Instead of pushing flavor forward like salt, pain receptors on your tongue prompt you to pay attention to all the flavors dancing around in your mouth.
Our Togarashi Pepper Spice blend uses crushed red pepper flakes to wake up your mouth, and then adds in extra layers of warm and spicy heat with ginger and wasabi powder. Still, heat is just heat unless you balance it out. To do that, The Spice & Tea Exchange® uses orange zest to create sweet aromatic notes and sesame seeds to add a bit of nuttiness. The real magic to this blend is in the kelp granules, which add a briny bold backbone to the whole mixture.
To make this blend come to life, all you need is… ah, heat – the temperature kind of heat. Lightly dust this blend on just about anything (and we do mean just about anything) that comes off the grill, out of the oven, out of a soup pot or steamer, and you’ll almost instantly notice a little sweet and nutty aroma. That’s the oils naturally present in the orange zest and sesame seeds starting to wake up. Then the kelp granules bloom, giving even the mildest of vegetables a leg to stand on. When you consider classic Japanese cuisine– which uses rice or noodles as the foundation for quick-fried meats or vegetables, rich flavored broths, grilled meats and steamed vegetables, or even hot pots– the star ingredient is often not the most abundant on the plate. A dusting of Togarashi Pepper Spice Blend calls out the flavors that matter in the dish.
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By Chef Donna Desfor
To try our Togarashi Spice Blend, visit spiceandtea.com. To learn more from Chef Donna, follow her on Facebook @ChefDonnaMarieDesfor.