Plymouth-based spice company puts a Midwestern spin on a classic Japanese flavor.
Togarashi: Undoubtedly fun to say, but for many here in Minnesota, it remains a foreign concept. Tom Dokman is working to change that, one spice bottle at a time. The co-founder of Here’s the Deal Spice Co. has been offering togarashi as one of its unique spice blends since the Plymouth-based company launched in 2019.
“It’s been around for hundreds of years,” Dokman says. Prevalent in Japan and on the coasts in the United States, togarashi is a popular seasoning for fresh seafood and Asian cuisine staples like ramen and stir fry. “It’s unique,” he says. “It’s different.”
Togarashi, which is considered a table condiment in Japan, is a blend of seven spices. The base is Sichuan peppercorns. “The husk numbs the tongue a bit,” Dokman says.
While traditional togarashi includes hot Thai chili peppers, Dokman’s blend is “remade” for the Midwest, sans the heat. “Ours is zingy and zesty,” he says. “Higher citrus, lower spice.”
The blend includes citrus peel, sesame seeds, garlic and nori seaweed. “We hand peel our oranges and dehydrate them ourselves,” Dokman says. “We also hand cut our nori.”
“It’s a labor of love to create this blend,” Dokman says. “It takes a lot of time to create.”
The hard work is paying off. “It’s our second-best selling spice blend,” Dokman says.
With a pop of orange and the earthy flavor of nori, togarashi is a good garnish blend, Dokman says. He’s seen it used on everything from hot dogs and sushi to stir fry and tater tots, but he recommends first-timers try it on a soft cooked egg or in pho. Rice also makes for a good entry point, as does fresh fish like salmon or sea bass. “It’s a delicate blend,” Dokman says. “You want to bake it, not sear it.”
What’s the Deal?
In addition to togarashi, Here’s the Deal Spice Co. offers its 127 Blend, barbecue rib rub, wing blend, Bloody Mary rim seasoning and a new taco blend that debuted in August.
“There are more blends to come,” Dokman says. “We want to expand on our own terms. It’s all about balance.”
After two decades spent working his way through the Twin Cities culinary scene, Dokman has learned the value of balance. “I wanted to learn it all,” he says of his early days as a chef. “As much as I could. It was addicting.”
When he married his wife, Nicole, in 2017, they created a special 127 Spice Blend (named after their wedding day) to give as a wedding favor. The guests went crazy for it. “Everyone wanted more,” Dokman says.
That gave him an idea, and the couple decided to switch gears. “It was time to do something for us,” he says.
The duo simultaneously launched a catering company and a spice company in November 2019. Four years later, they’ve pushed pause on the catering to focus on Here’s the Deal Spice Co. (The name was inspired by Dokman’s father, who was known to say the phrase when he wanted to get his point across.)
The Dokmans, however, prefer to use taste to get their point across. “Food is our love language,” Dokman says.
Dokman shares a quick rice recipe to help get you started on your togarashi journey.
Yields 3 cups cooked rice
- 1 cup basmati rice, rinsed
- 1 1/2 cups cold water
- 2 tsp. togarashi
Measure out 1 cup of basmati rice, and place in a fine mesh strainer. Rinse the rice under cold water until the water runs clear. Place the rinsed rice in a 3 quart saucepan. Add 1 1/2 cups of cold water, and stir. Add in the 2 tsp. of togarashi. Bring to a boil over high heat. Stir, cover and reduce heat to a simmer for 15–20 minutes. Remove from heat, and stir to fluff.
Chef’s Tip: Dokman recommends adding some soy sauce and sesame oil to the rice.
Looking for more recipe ideas? Explore more togarashi recipes by Chef Dokman.