If shichimi, Japanese seven-spice powder, used to be a secret, it’s out now. Septuple spice mixes are common on a global scale, though the names may not be as well known.
In Lebanese cooking, the term baharat for a seven-spice mix is common, though the constituent ingredients can differ from one kitchen to the next. Today, we’ll use it to spice lamb kofta as arayes: raw meat stuffed into pita pockets and cooked until succulent inside and crispy outside. Our own unique addition — finely ground coffee beans — is an idea borrowed from barbecue rubs, proving that coffee needn’t always be relegated to a dessert or drink to end a meal.
Bringing us back to Japan is sanshōzuke, a fermented paste from the northeastern Tohoku region. The name refers to its three parts in equal measure: nanban-garashi (green chili), rice kōji mold and shoyu. Ground lamb may be difficult to find, but buying sliced lamb, as for yakiniku (grilled meat), and grinding it yourself works well. Other meat or plant-based substitutes work also. Serve with a seasonal salad, yogurt mixed with plenty of fresh mint for dipping, or even hot sauce.