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Japanese seven-spice powder, a Pantry Special (Recipe: chicken yakitori)


You've probably heard of Chinese five-spice powder, a pungent blend of star anise, clove, fennel, cinnamon and Szechuan peppercorns. The Japanese have gone one -- no, two spices -- better, with shichimi togarashi, or Japanese seven-spice powder. Also known as shichi, it's one of the most popular table condiments, trendy in Japan and now gaining popularity in the West, where small bowls of it sit on restaurant tables next to the soy sauce. Used to add both heat and flavor to soup, noodles and rice, Japanese seven-spice combines orange or tangerine peel, black and white sesame seeds, cayenne, ground ginger, Szechuan pepper and nori. Sometimes the blend contains poppy seeds or hemp seeds, but the basic seven spices remain pretty much the same. The bite of citrus with the kick of red pepper, Szechuan pepper and ginger hits the back of your tongue with a bright, full flavor, like a very fresh but much more interesting black pepper.

Japanese seven spice powder

Is this Pantry Special new to you?

How to make Japanese seven-spice powder:
Make your own, version 1 (from Gourmet Sleuth)
Make your own, version 2
Make your own, version 3

Where to buy:
The Spice House ($4.28/half cup)
Savory Spice Shop ($3.70/2 oz)


Chicken yakitori

As close as I've ever come to the yakitori Ted and I first tasted in Tokyo, this recipe, adapted from Japanese Light: Heart-Friendly, Age-Defying Recipes from the World's Healthiest Cuisine, ends with a surprise: the peppery bite of Japanese seven-spice powder. Yakitori is the most popular bar food in Japan, and would be great with cold beer on a hot summer night. Truly, it's the best chicken-on-a-stick you've ever tasted. Serves 6 as an appetizer.


1/4 cup reduced-sodium soy sauce
1/4 cup mirin
1/4 cup sake
1 Tbsp sugar
Japanese seven-spice powder

4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut lengthwise into 12 strips

12 bamboo skewers, soaked in water for at least one hour


Stir together the soy sauce, mirin, sake and sugar in a nonreactive bowl. Add the chicken strips and marinate for at least 2 hours, and up to 8 hours.

Preheat the broiler and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil to catch the drips (and make clean-up easier). Thread each strip of chicken onto a skewer, and place on the baking sheet. Brush with the marinade. Cook for 5 minutes, then remove from the oven and turn the skewers. Baste again with the marinade. Cook for an additional 3-4 minutes. Brush one more time with marinade, cook for 1 minute, and remove from the oven. While the chicken is warm, sprinkle with Japanese seven-spice powder.

Serve warm or at room temperature.

More recipes in The Perfect Pantry:
Chicken satay
Shrimp teriyaki
Teriyaki tofu wraps
Chicken tikka

Other recipes that use Japanese seven-spice powder:
Seven spice mahi-mahi, from Coconut & Lime
Seven spice ice cream with yogurt and brown sugar cake, from Cannelle et Vanille
Japanese beef on rice bowl, from Noobcook
Green tea soba noodles with dipping sauce, from Cook (almost) Anything at Least Once

Disclosure: The Perfect Pantry earns a few pennies on purchases made through the Amazon.com links in this post. Thank you for supporting this site when you start your shopping here.


7 spice rocks, thanks for this recipe....definitely going to give it a try

This item is brand new to me. I was still trying to figure out what the five spices were in Five Spice Powder! You continue to open me up to a whole world of spices.

ooh, you do have the Perfect Pantry! I've never heard of Japanese 7 Spice but I know I would love it. Thanks.

I have heard of this, I have a small vial of it...a little goes a long way - spicy stuff!

Great recipe, thanks!

Yes, I've had this (and have a new bottle -- where?) -- and had a connecting leap. It's a bit like a perkier version of Spike!

I really like this recipe and your introduction to the seven spice powder. It is something that must definitely be tried. I hope you are having a great day. Blessings...Mary

This is a must try. The chicken looks fabulous!

It's great on ramen!

An interesting spice blend . . . seaweed?

Just this weekend I was remarking at how wonderful the flavor of Chinese 5-spice was in a sweet & spicy pork recipe I made. Now I can't wait to try Japanese 7-spice - sounds even better. I do love your pantry!

I love 7 spice powder, it's always in my pantry. I don't just sprinkle it over Japanese food, it's almost over anything (like grilled meat, even plain rice) where I want a quick spicy kick hehe ... so versatile! Thanks for the mention :)

Milton, you already have seven spice in your pantry? Wow!

TW, Kathy: where five-spice is warm and pungent, seven spice is sharp and citrusy. Totally different flavor profiles, but both complex blends. Start slowly with this one.

Joan, I'm sure you will love it. Seven spice is great on fish and on noodles.

Peter, I think seven spice powder might be very interesting with some of the Greek foods you love to cook.

Carolyn, Kristi: Enjoy! (The yakitori recipe is great without the seven spice, but really out of this world with it.)

Susan, you're always way ahead of me when it comes to interesting things in your pantry!

Mary, I surely hope you do try it. Seven spice is such an interesting addition to the pantry.

Nate, I'll bet -- and I'm going to try it!

Noobcook, I'm just now experimenting with it on grilled meat and chicken. Delicious!

I haven't heard of this one yet, Lydia. Thanks for letting me know. Sounds like I'd prefer it to Chinese 5 spice powder.

I remember seeing this at The Spice House, but I've never used it. Sounds intriguing; bet I would like it!

Susan, this is completely different from the five-spice, which is all about warm spices. The seven spice powder is more about the contrast of pepper and citrus, which I think is a great combination.

Kalyn, it's taken me all this time since our visit to The Spice House, where I first bought some, to fall in love with seven spice powder.

This is new to me! and I just bought my first bit of Chinese five-spice and thought I was being brave with that! I will look for this to try - but first I must try the 5-spice ....maybe for dinner tonight hmm....

Wow! I am going to try that recipe tonight. I've been looking for a new spicy Chinese dish.

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