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TokyoTreat Japanese Snacks BlogFurikake: A Simple and Delicious Japanese Seasoning

Furikake: A Simple and Delicious Japanese Seasoning

By Linh Le
March 11, 2022

Ever found yourself getting bored of hearty meals and craving something simple but tasty instead? Then, furikake – a simple Japanese spice is the right choice. The ingredients may be super simple, but it’s surprisingly delicious, acting as a flavor booster for any kind of food. 

If you don’t know about this seasoning, keep reading through because we’ll introduce you to the amazingly delicious and flavorful world of furikake in this article!

What is Furikake?

In Japanese, furi means to shake or sprinkle, and kake means to pour onto. Combine the two verbs, and furikake means “to sprinkle on top”.

Furikake seasoning is a kind of dry seasoning made from a mixture of simple ingredients like dried seaweed, dried bonito flakes (katsuobushi), toasted sesame seeds, shrimp paste, eggs, and more! 

Cubes of raw tuna lay on a blue plate, covered in furikake and green onion.
The point of eating raw fish is usually to enjoy the natural taste of the fish. In this case, it’s all about flavor. So sprinkle on lots of furikake if you like! Image via Shutterstock

Among them, dried seaweed and katsuobushi are the most often used ingredients because they are rich in umami (savoriness) – the key to this all-purpose seasoning’s delicious taste. Despite its simple and rustic form, this seasoning surprises many people with its indescribably rich flavor and deliciousness that comes from the perfect combination of different ingredients.

Furikake is used as an important seasoning for Japanese meals. It can be used to spray on top of food to enhance its flavor and make it more delicious. It’s especially good for days when you don’t feel like having a hearty meal full of fish and meat, wanting a little taste of pure simplicity. It’s also great for days when you can’t eat much but still want a decent, delicious meal.

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Simple, Delicious, and Nutritious

Simple as it is, furikake can be an excellent source of protein and other essential nutrients, like calcium. In fact, it was first introduced around the Taisho period (1912-1926) to address calcium deficiency and malnutrition in the Japanese population, especially in children.

On top of being easy to use, it’s also easy to make, mostly from dried seasonings or just leftover food from recent days.

A bowl of white Japanese rice on a black table, with a furikake topping of sesame seeds, salmon, and dried seaweed.
Varieties of this seasoning are easy to make at home. This one is just made of salmon, toasted sesame seeds, and chips of dried seaweed. Image via Shutterstock

If the ingredients are already dried, then just chop them up, mix them together, and season to your tastes with things like sea salt, salt and pepper, or sugar.

If using fresh ingredients, after chopping them up, roast them in a pan over low heat for around 10 minutes. When it completely dries up, mix well with other leftover ingredients and season to taste with salt, sugar, or soy sauce.

For dried nori (seaweed), the trick is to roast it in a fry pan for about 30 seconds to bring out the aroma and increase its crunchiness. Last, store your homemade furikake in an airtight container for later use.

Ways to Customize Your Meal

Toppings

The most common way of using furikake is to sprinkle on Japanese rice or white porridge when it’s still hot. Some people love it to the point of sprinkling it over rice to add flavor, even if they have other side dishes. You can also use it on foods like tofu, noodles, or vegetables.

Onigiri

Mixing furikake with rice and shaping it into onigiri (rice balls) is another popular way to enjoy this Japanese rice seasoning. This kind of rice ball is easy to make and delicious, perfect for eating with other dishes in a bento (Japanese lunch box) or enjoying it alone. These onigiri are a good choice for a compact and tasty snack for a picnic or outdoor camping.

Ochazuke

A bowl of ochazuke, a dish of white rice with tea poured over it, topped with baked salmon and finished with furikake on top of it all.
Tea poured over rice may not sound appetizing, but it’s great, especially with baked salmon and furikake. Image via Shutterstock

Ochazuke (rice with tea) is another popular Japanese rice dish that also uses furikake as a main ingredient along with salmon or tuna. Even if you don’t have fancy ingredients at home, you can still have ochazuke by sprinkling the seasoning on white rice and adding hot tea. It may not sound appealing at first, but once you try, you’ll be surprised by how delicious this light dish can be!

Popular Must-Try Furikake in Japan

In Japan, furikake is sold in supermarkets and convenience stores as many small packages. There are a variety of options that can make you confused on which one to try.

Noritama – The Classic Flavor

If you are new to this seasoning’s world, Noritama (by Marumiya) – one of the oldest furikake makers in Japan – is definitely a good choice to start with. Nori is dried seaweed and tama (tamago) is egg, so Noritama is a sweet and salty combination of egg and seaweed. It offers a classic, traditional flavor of furikake that anyone from young children to adults can enjoy. Noritama is so perfect with rice that you won’t be able to stop eating it!

Tarako Ochazuke – A Savory Rice Bowl

As introduced above, ochazuke is a delicious traditional food served with furikake. Made from a mixture of soy sauce, scallops and tuna, rice cake, seaweed, and tarako (salted Alaska pollock roe), tarako ochazuke brings a balanced umami taste. If you want to have a quick but delightful meal without having to prepare too many ingredients, tarako ochazuke is a perfect, healthy instant meal. It’s tasty and comforting on busy days or days when you’re not feeling well.

Packets of furikake sit in boxes in a supermarket with flavors including seaweed & egg, grilled meat, and wasabi.
The rice or seasoning aisle in a Japanese supermarket will give you plenty of different options. For overseas, try the foreign goods aisle for a slightly smaller selection. Image via Shuttestock

Otona no Furikake – Dinsticintive Furikake for Adults

What makes this kind different from others is its focus on using ingredients geared towards adults, such as wasabi, mustard, sockeye salmon, and more. This series was established by Nagatanien, a well-known grocery manufacturer in Japan, and has succeeded in setting eating furikake as a trend among adults, proving that it’s not just for children.

Mazekomi Wakame Series – The Best Combination of Seaweed Furikake

If you want to explore the furikake world, the Mazekomi Wakame series – Marumiya’s most popular line – will show you that seaweed has never tasted better than when in combination with other salty ingredients. There are a total of 24 flavors in this series with the most highly rated one being sake (salmon), which was recently upgraded with more salmon and seaweed for a richer and saltier experience. Other special and premium varieties that are also worth trying are grilled eel, bamboo shoots, and small whitefish (shirasu).

There are so many delicious and extravagant Japanese dishes out there, but Japanese people always prefer simpler and healthier food. That’s why furikake has existed for such a long time in Japanese food culture.

Have you ever tried furikake before? Let us know about your favorite flavor of furikake you have tried in the comment below!

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Linh Le

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