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Blessings & Tastes of the Islands Part 23: Shima Togarashi (I)
post : 2021.07.16 20:00
Shima Togarashi, or Okinawan chili peppers, are cute little chilis with bright colors, but don’t let their charming and innocent-looking appearance fool you! They’re quite hot! For those of you who have visited local diners or Okinawa Soba shops, you’re probably familiar with the Koregusu, the Shima Togarashi peppers pickled in Awamori and usually displayed in big jars or empty bottles of Awamori. They’re easy to make so many Soba shops make their own.
Recently, it seems that there have been new creations of seasonings made with Shima Togarashi, other than the Koregusu. In today’s article, we’re going to look into the “hot seasonings of the islands”.
First is the Taberu Rayu. This spicy oil took the market by storm when it was introduced several years ago.
The Rayu oil was first introduced by Penguin Shokudo diner on Ishigaki Island, and is known among Rayu fans as “Ishi-Ra.” Many people from across the islands and the rest of Japan fell in love with its great taste, and it became so popular that they even made a movie about it! At our household, too, we’ve been longtime fans and before we decided to move to Okinawa, we ordered them from Ishigaki Island by the case. We shared the jars with friends and family and we all loved it.
The seasonings shown above are those introduced in the last few years and gaining much popularity.
Starting from the left is Shima Harissa, made with Shima Togarashi peppers, garlic, salt, cumin, and Chomeiso (also known as coastal hog fennel) marinated in olive oil. It has an exotic, oriental flavor with a wonderful spicy taste but this seasoning focuses more on its flavors than spiciness. It goes well with various types of dishes including taco rice, pasta, couscous, fried rice, noodles, hot pots, and many others.
Next is the Nama Shichimi (shown at the center of the plate above). We were shocked at how hot it was! Nama Shichimi is made with raw Shima Togarashi peppers with Shikwasa citrus rind, salt, ginger, vinegar, black sesame seeds, Asa sea lettuce, Japanese Sansho pepper, and Awamori. Did we mention that it’s really hot? But oh, it’s so good! The enjoyment isn’t just in the spiciness but the rich flavors brought by the scent of the seas and blessings of the hills, and this will have you reaching for another bite. From fried rice to various stir-fried dishes, or to simply accompany a bowl of rice, you’ll be hooked on Nama Shichimi as we are after coming across this great product at an outer islands fair held in Naha City. Once we tried it out, the whole jar was used up in a very short time because we just loved it. We now have a clear understanding of what it’s like to be hooked on something!
The “Shima Ichimi” contains Shima Togarashi peppers, Hihatsumodoki (Piper retrofractum, Javanese long peppers), and Yuzu citrus peel, and on top of those, the “Shima Shchimi” contains five varieties of herbs from the islands, like turmeric and lemongrass. Both have wonderfully aromatic flavors.
As we have small children in our home, we don’t use any spicy seasonings when we’re cooking, but these are great to sprinkle on our separate servings and we thoroughly enjoy the variety.
Although we were only able to introduce just a few in this article, Okinawa’s islands offer many other kinds of seasonings made with various spices. We hope you’ll try some of the ones we introduced in this article to add a kick to your dishes. They also make great gifts and souvenirs, too. We’re thinking of using fresh Shima Togarshi to make a spicy oil soon, so stay tuned!
[Ishigaki Jima Rayu]
Ishigaki Jima Rayu Kobo (Ishigaki Island spicy Rayu oil factory)
[Shima Harissa], [Nama Shichimi], [Shima Ichimi], and [Shima Shichimi]
Ishigaki Jima Umi-no-Mono, Yama-no-Mono (Ishigaki Island’s products from the sea and mountains),
Agricultural Producers’ Cooperative Corporation
Dishes in the photographs (by order of appearance): By Yamada Yoshiriki, Shimabukuro Katsushi
Photographs & Styling: Haraiso
Okinawa CLIP photo writers, monobox (Tetsumasa & Kozue Kawano)