3 of a Kind: Togarashi

Feeling the heat? Check out a chile-laced spice blend that is elevating everything from cheesecake to cocktails.
Togarashi Cheesecake

3 of a Kind checks out three places across the country to try something cool, new and delicious.

Togarashi, a chile-laced spice blend, is a staple in Japanese cuisine, but chefs of all backgrounds are using seasoning in creative ways that go beyond seared tuna and hand rolls. Lauded for its nuanced heat and nuttiness, togarashi, which typically includes a mix of red pepper, orange peel, multicolored sesame seeds, nori (seaweed), ginger and sansho (Japanese pepper), is elevating everything from cheesecake to cocktails.

Togarashi Cheesecake at MilkWood, Louisville, Ky.

Acclaimed chef Ed Lee has always been a fan of crossover desserts, and MilkWood’s Southern-leaning, globally inspired menu is the perfect playground for sweet-savory experimentation. Lee says of his signature Togarashi Cheesecake, “I wanted a spice that would cut through the richness but not interfere too much with the pleasure of it. Togarashi also has sesame and bits of nori in it, so that extra nuttiness and saltiness was the perfect complement to the spice.” The not-too-sweet ending features a gingersnap-cookie crust layered with goat cheese and lemon cream cheese, blanketed with togarashi and finished with miso caramel. “Together, the togarashi and miso lend a back note of spice and saltiness that give the dessert depth and complexity,” says Lee.

Peat's Dragon

Peat’s Dragon (with Togarashi Yuzu) at Kimoto Rooftop, Brooklyn

For his signature Peat’s Dragon cocktail, head bartender Dave Danger pays homage to the modern classic Penicillin cocktail, a mix of Scotch, lemon, honey and ginger. His version starts with Japanese whiskey and peaty Scotch to lend the cocktail its signature smokiness. To balance those bold flavors, Danger adds housemade galangal (Asian ginger) honey, along with togarashi-infused yuzu citrus juice. “Togarashi adds spice and a touch of heat to the drink. This complements the smokiness of the peat in the Scotch and the bite of the galangal,” he explains. The ingredients are shaken with and strained over ice, garnished with a lemon twist and candied ginger, and served with a rooftop garden view.

Togarashi Bagel
Togarashi Bagel at Knead Bagels, Philadelphia

At Knead Bagels, Cheri and Adam Willner offer a twist on the traditional bagel shop. You’ll find still find the classics like plain bagels and everything bagels, but the duo also adds options like cardamom and togarashi. For the latter, the bagels are boiled, dusted with togarashi (bolstered by additional black sesame seeds and a little salt), baked and then paired with an ample schmear of scallion-lime cream cheese. “The acidity in the lime helps cool off the heat a little bit and gives the bagel a nice tingly finish, instead of being blown away with the shichimi togarashi,” Adam Willner explains. It’s a well-balanced bite that also makes an excellent breakfast sandwich.

Photos courtesy of MilkWood, Kimoto Rooftop and Brian Michael Kinney

Next Up

3 of a Kind: Baijiu

Find out which celebratory liquor is joining vodka, gin and the rest of the crew as a popular spirit.

3 of a Kind: Scraps

Sending something to the scrapheap used to mean dooming it to its demise, but restaurants across the country are now making the most of scraps, turning carrot tops, bread butts, corn silks and more into incredible dishes that are worth saving and sav

3 of a Kind: Shakshouka

Shakshouka is a savory egg entree made with tomatoes, peppers and onions that's popular in Israel. Here are a few creative ways it's being adapted by chefs in America.

3 of a Kind: Tea Desserts

Put a new spin on tea and dessert with tea-flavored desserts, like Earl Grey pie and chamomile pots de creme.

3 of a Kind: Curry Cocktails

Curry has become one of the more popular flavors in mixology, adding an unexpected twist to classic cocktails.

3 of a Kind: Artisan Ice

Find out how creative bartenders are shaking up the cocktail scene with innovative ice cubes in unexpected flavors.

3 of a Kind: Crazy Queso

Restaurants around the country are going beyond the basic with their queso, dishing up the molten appetizer spiked with everything from pickles to booze.

3 of a Kind: Kombucha Cocktails

Kombucha is popping up on cocktail menus across the country. Here are three places to try it.

3 of a Kind: Fermented Salads

Chefs are using pickled vegetables and fermented dressings to create tangy twists on typical salads.

3 of a Kind: Holiday Cocktails

Nothing says good cheer like a spirited drink or two.

Related Pages