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.