Four ways with furikake

This Japanese seasoning goes beyond salt and pepper to deliver the ultimate umami bomb.

Fuyu's fried cauliflower with white miso, sesame and furikake

William Meppem

This Japanese seasoning goes beyond salt and pepper to deliver the ultimate umami bomb.

What is it?

Furikake could be considered the salt and pepper of Japan. It’s a seasoning that contains – at its most basic – roasted sesame seeds, nori and bonito flakes, along with salt and sugar. It can also contain egg, shiso, wasabi, powdered miso, freeze-dried salmon, cod roe, and, somewhat controversially, MSG. “Furikake” means to sprinkle, which is exactly what you do with this flavour-packed seasoning: on steamed rice, noodles, fried chicken, vegetables or tofu, even on fries – anything that will benefit from a flavour boost.

Pictured above: Fuyu’s fried cauliflower with white miso, sesame and furikake

Why do we care?

Umami has been a chefs’ buzzword for the past several years, and furikake is the ultimate umami-bomb. It’s a staple on the tables of Japanese restaurants everywhere, and we’ve spotted it on menus at the likes of Melbourne’s Supernormal, Sydney’s Bar Brosé, and Monster in Canberra, among others.

Where can I get it?

Furikake is available from specialist Japanese and Asian grocery shops, and online. It’s also simple to make your own; try our version here.

DIY furikake

Makes about ⅔ cup

Dry-roast 50gm (⅓ cup) sesame seeds in a frying pan over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until fragrant and browned (1-2 minutes). Transfer to a bowl, stir in 2 tsp sea salt and stand to cool. Thinly slice 2 nori sheets (it’s easiest to do this with kitchen scissors), add to sesame mixture along with 2½ tbsp bonito flakes (katsuobushi) and a pinch of caster sugar if you like a touch of sweetness. Toss to combine and store in an airtight container for up to 2 months.

Furikake butter

Makes 250gm

Beat 250gm unsalted butter in an electric mixer until light and fluffy (2-3 minutes), add 2½ tbsp furikake and 2 tsp rice vinegar and beat to combine. Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to a month. This butter works well on seared steak or roast fish, or melted and tossed through freshly popped corn.

Furikake fried rice with hot-smoked salmon

Serves 4

Heat 2 tbsp vegetable oil in a wok over medium-high heat, crack in 3 eggs and stir-fry until just cooked, then set aside. Add 3 thinly sliced spring onions, 30gm finely grated ginger and 2 finely grated garlic cloves to wok and stir-fry until fragrant (30 seconds). Add 750gm cold cooked jasmine rice and stir-fry, breaking up any clumps, until heated through (4-5 minutes). Season to taste with soy sauce and freshly ground black pepper, then stir in furikake to taste. Top with 250gm flaked hot-smoked salmon and 1 large Lebanese cucumber, halved and thinly sliced, scatter with extra thinly sliced spring onion and furikake to taste and serve hot.

Roast eggplant with miso dressing and furikake

Serves 4 as a side dish

Preheat oven to 180C. Toss 2 diced eggplant in an oven dish with 2 tbsp vegetable oil and roast, stirring occasionally, until browned and tender (15-20 minutes). Meanwhile, whisk 2 tbsp white miso paste, 2 tbsp rice vinegar, 1 tbsp mirin, 2 tsp finely grated ginger and 1½ tbsp water in a bowl, pour mixture over roasted eggplant and toss to combine, then roast until glaze starts to caramelise (4-5 minutes). Serve warm or at room temperature scattered with thinly sliced spring onion and seasoned generously with furikake.

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