Edina High School grad’s company puts a Midwestern spin on a classic Japanese flavor.
Togarashi is undoubtedly fun to say, but for many here in Minnesota, it remains a foreign concept. Nicole Dokman, born and raised in Edina, and her husband, Tom, are working to change that, one spice bottle at a time. The Dokmans created Here’s the Deal Spice Co. in 2019.
The company offers togarashi as one of its unique spice blends. “It’s been around for hundreds of years,” Tom Dokman says. Prevalent in Japan and on the coasts in the United States, togarashi is a popular seasoning for fresh ocean fish.
“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,” he says.
While traditional togarashi includes hot Thai chili peppers, this 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).
“It’s our labor of love,” Nicole Dokman says. “You’ll smell a lot of citrus in it. We hand peel and dehydrate the citrus. We hand cut the nori seaweed into little squares.”
They also toast the white and black sesame seeds. “It takes a lot of time to create,” Tom says.
The hard work is paying off. “It’s our second-best selling spice blend,” Tom says.
With a pop of orange and the earthy, ocean flavor of the nori, togarashi is a good garnish blend, he says. He’s seen it used on everything from hot dogs and sushi to stir fry and tater tots, but Tom 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,” he says. “You want to bake it, not sear it.”
In addition to togarashi, Here’s the Deal Spice Co. offers its 127 Blend–an homage to the Dokmans’ wedding date.
“It all started on our wedding day, but we didn’t know it yet,” Nicole says. “We were trying to think of a unique gift for all of our guests to take home as a party favor. We came up with an idea of, ‘We should make our own spice blend.’ After the wedding, everybody would run out of the spice and want more.”
It was an “aha!” moment for Tom, who had spent two decades in the Twin Cities culinary scene. 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 is inspired by Tom’s father who was known to say the phrase when he wanted to get his point across.)
They also have a BBQ rib rub, wing blend, Bloody Mary rim seasoning and a new taco blend that debuted in August. More blends are on the way.
“Here’s the Deal Spice is a combo. It’s the organic ingredients and Tom’s culinary knowledge bottled up in every jar,” Nicole says. “We want to make cooking easy for everybody.”
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 qt. 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: Tom Dokman recommends adding some soy sauce and sesame oil to the rice.
Looking for more recipe ideas? Explore more togarashi recipes by Chef Dokman.