I’m a condiment person. Dips, salsas, sauces…you name it, I probably love it. When I was a kid, it was not difficult to find me at parties because I was most likely lurking near the chips and dip. OK, let’s be honest…that’s usually where you’ll find me as a grown-up, too. Chips and fries are just vehicles for salsa and ketchup, right?
When we lived in Japan, I got hooked on furikake, a combination of sesame seeds, nori, and other seasonings that is sprinkled on rice and other foods for added flavor. For the first 3 years of life in Tokyo, I used furikake liberally. Then, I got pregnant with Riley and like many first-time mothers I obsessively read every ingredient label on everything I put into my body. When I saw MSG as one of the main ingredients in furikake, it immediately exited my list of pregnancy-friendly foods.
This was difficult. Mostly because I was craving Japanese sticky rice like no one’s business and all I wanted to do was put some salty, crunchy, umami-flavored furikake on top. The thought of making my own crossed my mind, but I was pretty busy growing a human being and didn’t have the energy to think about making something that I was sure would be equally as difficult. I had visions in my mind of drying salmon skin in the oven and other “complicated” steps that must go into making such a flavorful mixture. Turns out, furikake is not at all difficult to make.
Here’s the basic recipe that I’ve found to work quite well (no MSG included). If you’re not a fan of fish flakes, you can omit them, although I highly recommend you at least try it with the flakes before tossing them out the window. They add such a lovely, smokey note that can only be found in these immensely flavorful flakes can lend. Once you have the basic recipe down, experiment with other flavor combinations. I’m working on a wasabi version right now, but you can do almost anything from classic sesame to matcha (think of a dish with a flavor profile like toasted rice in matcha broth) to a simple sesame salt, or gomashio.
I love using furikake on popcorn, hard boiled eggs, in salads, and of course sprinkled over steaming hot rice. You could even keep a little ziploc bag of the stuff in your office drawer to spice up some noodles or other bland workday lunch that needs a pick-me-up.
No MSG. No hard work. Big rewards. Can’t get much better than that, can it?
- 1/3 cup nori sheets, broken up into small pieces
- 1/2 cup white or black sesame seeds
- 1 cup loosely packed bonito flakes (fish flakes), broken up into small pieces
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon mirin
- 2 or 3 drops toasted sesame oil
- Preheat the oven to 275 degrees F.
- In a small bowl, combine the sesame seeds and bonito flakes.
- Add the soy sauce and mirin and stir to evenly coat the sesame seed mixture. Add the nori and stir to combine.
- Spread the mixture in and even layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
- Bake for 15-18 minutes or until the mixture is dry and slightly toasted. Keep an eye on it while it cooks to make sure it doesn’t burn.
- Let the furikake cool for about 2 hours before transferring to an air-tight container.
- Store at room temperature for up to 2-3 weeks. (If it lasts that long.)