Ingredient Highlight: Furikake

furikake rice bowl with salmon and asparagus

When this whole quarantine life started a few months back, I wasn’t really fazed about what this meant for my daily meals. If anything, I was looking forward to being able to cook more, now that I no longer had a daily commute to worry about. I should have known though, that a key principle of my cooking basically guaranteed the fact that I’d never become the domestic kitchen goddess I was hoping to become. That principle being:

I am a lazy cook.

Literally me halfway through cooking prep.

I’m not always lazy, mind you. There are times I feel especially ambitious or just want to try something new. But the fact remains that being a lazy cook means that I have no shame in making full meals out of pre-made ingredients. And no other time has this been more apparent than right now, when we’re all under lockdown and discouraged from going to the grocery store too often.

My one saving grace is that I AM particular about flavor and getting it at least somewhat right. If you’ve read my post about how to make a WFH meal less sad, you’ll know that I’m a big fan of spices and seasonings. These are things that can really take an otherwise boring food item into something that makes your taste buds happy. Among my favorites is the one I’m highlighting today— furikake.

What is it?

Furikake is a Japanese seasoning, traditionally made for sprinkling on top of rice. It was supposedly developed in the early 1900s by a pharmacist to help alleviate calcium deficits in the Japanese population. Today, there are hundreds of varieties of furikake, believe it or not. Some common ingredients in furikake include dry roasted seaweed, roasted sesame seeds, and dried fish.

How I like to eat it:

  • On plain rice (duh)
  • On avocado toast
  • On cold tofu (with a splash of soy sauce and bonito flakes)
  • On any other kind of rice dish (fried rice, rice porridge, rice soup, etc.)

There aren’t really limits on what you can use furikake on, though I personally find it to be most satisfying sprinkled on top of carbs. There are articles out there that say you can put it on vegetables or fish (among other things), but personally, I think furikake is still the best on rice. Don’t believe me?

Try this: Deconstructed Rice Ball

You’ll need:

  • Plain cooked rice (white or brown short-grain rice works best here)
  • Furikake of your choice
  • Korean roasted seaweed flakes (other types are fine too, but these tend to be pre-seasoned and will jazz up the overall flavor)
  • Canned salmon (or other fish of your choice)

Mix everything together and then eat! If you wanted even more flavor, you could add a few dabs of Japanese mayo and/or some shichimi togarashi to punch things up. But I find that the above combination gave me plenty in terms of umami and satisfaction. To balance things out, I ate this with some leftover asparagus that I baked in my toaster oven for 12ish minutes.

Yes, that is a plastic spoon. I said I was lazy, remember?

Final notes:

Furikake is bona fide delicious and super versatile. One thing to note is that a lot of them do contain MSG, so if you’re sensitive or prefer not to eat it, make sure to check the ingredient list. It’s also plenty salty, so if do use it, go easy on the salt beforehand or use a light touch when you sprinkle this on your food.

Japanese grocery stores are your best bet to find furikake, though Chinese and/or Asian supermarkets usually carry them as well. There’s also a decent selection online, either through Amazon or other online retailers.

Hope you all enjoy this inaugural Ingredient Highlight post! I’m hoping to make this a regular series here, so stay tuned for more highlights on ingredients that’ll take your meals to the next level. 😎