Awareness of the antioxidant and general health properties of spices and other natural flavorings has been growing quickly in Western countries over the last few years. Turmeric and cinnamon are two that have received a lot of attention in relation to fat loss, but studies have also confirmed their potential benefits in areas ranging from blood sugar management through to cancer treatment.
The question is not really which spices are healthy – the majority are – but how to get more of them into your diet. This is where combination mixes like shichimi definitely come in handy. I usually just call shichimi “seven spice” but it’s probably stretching things to call aonori, made from green seaweed, a spice. Regardless, shichimi is a power blend of full flavored goodness and it goes well on pretty much everything.
• Ground red chilli pepper
• Black / white sesame seeds
• Ground sansho pepper
• Dried mandarin peel
• Ground green shiso
• Whole hemp seeds
• Flaked green nori
Other possibe ingredients include
ginger, yuzu peel or poppy seeds.
Most Asian supermarkets are likely to have some kind of shichimi available but it is definitely worth trying a freshly prepared mix if you have a chance. On a recent visit to Takayama, I was lucky enough to come across a stall selling custom blends in the Miyagawa morning market. I ordered a large pot with extra black and white sesame and also received a free refill and some extra chilli. It’s good stuff!
If you happen to be in Kyoto, Dintora, at the west end of Nishiki Market, also has good shichimi and other traditional spice mixes. You can’t tell following the renovation a few years back, but the shop has been in business for over 130 years. Their products don’t contain any preservatives or colorings, etc., so be sure to refrigerate after opening. They offer two shichimi mixes, with the milder one containing a lot of very flavorful aonori.