These recipes originally appear in the August 2022 issue of HomeLife Magazine.
September always catches me a little off guard as I transition from the lazy days of summer into the bustling schedule of fall, and this year was no exception. I really need to make a mental note not to start new projects this time of year (or a new career for that matter) — and yet I did. Now, with this new change of season (or seasons), I turned to my husband, Thom, with the news that he would be in charge of cooking our dinners more often than not. He was relieved to hear he wouldn’t be going it alone since the amazing folks at Blue Apron® had his back. Everything he needed — sans the apron — would be delivered to our door. However, in all my frenzy, it escaped me to open their app and make the menu selections for our upcoming shipment, meaning we would soon receive a random smattering of dinners. Oh, my! To my surprise, this lapse would introduce me to a bold and exotic seasoning that otherwise wouldn’t have crossed my taste buds: togarashi.
After work, I raced in the door to a kitchen filled with a wonderful aroma and exuberant singing — Thom likes to cook to his favorite music. In a loud shout I was told, “It’s Togarashi Popcorn Chicken.” Tired though still inquisitive, I reached for my phone and searched for the new ingredient, only to learn it’s a blend of seven spices: red chili flakes, dried orange peel, white and black sesame seeds, Nori flakes, poppy seeds, and ginger. It’s also referred to as Japanese 7 spice.
I watched as Thom carefully used half of the togarashi seasoning for coating the raw chicken in a bag with flour and cornstarch. Once the meal was plated, he sprinkled the remaining half — causing a second round of aromatic delight. Moments later, we sat down to a delicious home-cooked meal of crispy chicken flavored with smokey heat and underlying tones of orange peel and ginger.
During dinner, we agreed Togarashi Popcorn Chicken was a recipe worth repeating on our own. But, as predicted, togarashi is an elusive little spice to find. Searching for it at the local grocers deemed unfruitful. Fortunately, we have an adorable spice shop near our home that does carry togarashi and a myriad of other spices. The shop owner didn’t even blink when I asked for it. If you’re unable to find it, you can order from them online at savoryspiceshop.com. It may seem like a little more effort to order an ingredient online, but I’m willing to wager this meal is worth it, and isn’t variety the spice of life?
Spice up your new season with a new seasoning and check out these other togarashi inspired recipes.
Togarashi Popcorn Chicken | Makes 4 servings
1-1/4 lbs. chicken breast (cut to bite-size pieces)
1 c. sushi rice
1 small green cabbage (cored and sliced)
1/2 c. cornstarch
4 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp. rice vinegar
6 Tbsp. sweet chili sauce
2 Tbsp. togarashi seasoning
4 Tbsp. Hoisin sauce
4 Tbsp. mayonnaise
In a medium pot, add 1-1/2 cups water, rice, and a pinch of salt over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, then cover and reduce heat to simmer for 15–17 minutes. Wash and dry the produce. Slice the cabbage thin and the scallions on a diagonal, separating the white bottoms from the green tops. In a large bowl, add the cabbage, white bottoms of the scallions, sweet chili sauce, and vinegar to make a slaw. Gently toss to coat, then allow to marinate for about 10 minutes. In a large resealable bag, add cornstarch, flour, and half the togarashi. Rinse and pat the chicken dry. Season with salt and pepper, then add the chicken to the flour mixture. Seal bag and shake to coat. In a large non-stick pan, heat a thin layer of oil to medium-high heat. Add chicken to the heated oil. Allow the chicken to cook without stirring for three to four minutes, or until lightly browned. Flip the chicken pieces one time and allow to cook through, another one to two more minutes. Place the chicken on a plate with paper towels to drain and lightly sprinkle with salt and remaining togarashi. In a small bowl, combine the mayonnaise with hoisin sauce, then salt and pepper to taste. Plate the dish with warm rice, cabbage slaw, and crispy chicken. Add a small dish of mayo-hoisin dipping sauce on the side. Garnish with sliced green tops of scallions.
Togarashi is a wonderful addition over popcorn, avocado toast, or eggs.
—Tip from Laura
Mushroom Mazemen with Bok Choy and Soft-Boiled Eggs | Makes 4 servings
1 lb. ramen noodles
8 oz. mushrooms
1 head baby bok choy
2-inch piece of fresh ginger
4 cloves garlic
1-1/4 lbs. ground pork
4 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
2 Tbsp. rice vinegar
2 Tbsp. soy sauce
2 Tbsp. brown sugar
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
2 Tbsp. togarashi seasoning
Fill a medium pot with water (keeping about one quarter empty at the top) and bring to a boil. Add eggs to the pot of boiling water (careful not to crack the shell) and cook for seven minutes. Remove the eggs from the pot and immediately rinse with cold water to stop the cooking. Peel the cooked eggs and season with salt and pepper, then set aside.
To the remaining pot of boiling water, add the noodles and allow to cook one to two minutes, stirring to break apart. Drain the noodles and set aside. Slice the mushrooms and thinly slice the bok choy and the scallion. Peel the garlic and ginger and then mince. In a large skillet over low heat, add olive oil then sauté ginger, garlic, and scallions together for five to seven minutes to make Asian-style aromatics.
Remove aromatics from the pan and set aside. Raise heat to medium and add mushrooms in a single layer, adding a little more oil if needed. Cook until lightly browned, then add the bok choy to the pan, along with the aromatics. Cook for one to two more minutes, or until bok choy leaves are wilted.
Move cooked vegetables to a bowl and keep warm. Add the pork to the skillet and while breaking apart cook on medium-high heat for five to six minutes, or until lightly browned. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together the brown sugar, rice vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, two tablespoons of water, and red pepper flakes. Add the vegetables, sauce, and noodles to the pan of cooked pork and heat through. Once plated, top with a soft-boiled egg and season with togarashi.
Shrimp and Rice Vermicelli with Togarashi | Makes 4 servings
10 oz. rice vermicelli
3–4 Tbsp. sesame oil (as needed)
1 red pepper
1 yellow pepper
6 oz. shiitake mushrooms
1 white onion
1/2 small head of cabbage
1 lb. shrimp (peeled and deveined)
1 Tbsp. togarashi seasoning
1 Tbsp. black sesame seeds
6 cloves garlic (peeled)
1–2 Serrano pepper(s)
(depending on desired heat)
1/4 c. soy sauce
1/4 c. rice vinegar
2 Tbsp. sesame oil
2 Tbsp. honey
Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add the noodles. Cook for six to seven minutes, or until preferred doneness. Drain the noodles and rinse with hot water. Set aside and drizzle with sesame oil. Slice the peppers, onions, mushrooms, and cabbage. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add peppers and onions and cook until slightly charred. Remove and set aside in a bowl, then repeat the charring process with the mushrooms and then the cabbage. Season the vegetables with half the togarashi and cover to keep warm. Rinse and pat the shrimp dry, season with salt and pepper, and add to the skillet over medium-high heat. Cook the shrimp for three to five minutes, then flip and cook an additional one to two minutes. Transfer cooked shrimp to the bowl of vegetables and cover. Combine all six sauce ingredients in a food processor and pulse until well-blended. Transfer mixture to the same skillet. Over medium-high heat, slowly stir the sauce for three minutes to reduce, then add in cooked noodles, vegetables, and shrimp, tossing to coat well. Plate the dish and garnish with remaining togarashi and black sesame seeds.
For ease, purchase pre-placed mushrooms, minced ginger, and minced garlic. —Tip from Laura