Furikake is a savory Japanese condiment that’s sprinkled on rice, fish, and vegetables. While there are many different types of furikake available, typical blends include ingredients like dried nori (seaweed), toasted sesame seeds, dried fish, dried egg, dried herbs, salt, and sugar.
Place of Origin: Japan
Varieties: Shiso, wasabi, nori, salmon, wakame
Translation: Furikake means “to sprinkle over” in Japanese
What Is Furikake?
Over the last century, furikake has become an indispensable condiment in Japanese kitchens. It was first developed during the Taisho era (1912-1926). At the time, it was thought that the Japanese diet was deficient in calcium.
To address this problem, a Kyushu pharmacist developed furikake, which was designed to be added to rice, a staple of the Japanese diet. The original recipe included dried fish bones ground up and combined with flakes of nori and toasted sesame seeds. Furikake was also provided to the Japanese military to add nutrition during World War I.
Over time, marketing of the product has shifted from adults, its original audience, to kids in the 1960s, then adults from the 1990s on. Today, a wide array of different varieties cater to whole families, with spicier versions like wasabi furikake designed for grown-up tastes.
Furikake vs. Shichimi Togarashi
Furikake and togarashi are both flavorful Japanese condiments made from dried and chopped or ground ingredients, and they often share some common ingredients, such as seaweed and sesame seeds. However, the blends differ, and they’re used for slightly different purposes.
Shichimi togarashi also contains peppers by definition, meaning it’s intended to add a spicy kick. A common version of togarashi’s seven-spice blend includes ingredients like chili pepper flakes, nori, toasted sesame seeds, Sichuan peppercorns, dried orange peel, ginger, and poppy seeds, mixed together and ground into a fine powder. Furikake is more specifically associated with rice, while shichimi togarashi is used on a variety of different dishes where spicy, nutty, and savory flavors are desired.
In Japan, furikake is frequently used to top rice, fish, and vegetables. It’s also used in making onigiri or nori-wrapped rice balls. The condiment can also be used to add umami flavor and crunchy texture to just about any savory dish or snack, from eggs and avocado toast to poke bowls and salads.
How to Cook With Furikake
Furikake is typically used to top other foods rather than as an ingredient, so keep it on hand to use as a condiment or to finish dishes. It also works well as a seasoning or coating for battered fried foods like chicken or shrimp, popcorn, and snack mixes.
What Does It Taste Like?
While different types of furikake have different ingredients and different flavor profiles, two common ingredients include dried fish and chopped nori, both foods that have a savory umami flavor.
Furikake that includes toasted sesame seeds will taste nutty, and dried egg added to furikake creates a richer flavor profile. Other furikake varieties may include peppers or chilis to add spice, and those featuring vegetables or herbs like shiso will carry the flavor of those items as well. Most types of furikake also include salt, sugar, and monosodium glutamate (MSG) to enhance and balance other flavors and boost umami.
- Kale Chips With Furikake Japanese Rice Seasoning Recipe
- Japanese Rice Balls
- Japanese-Style Steamed Rice
Where to Buy Furikake
Shop for furikake in Asian grocery stores and well-stocked supermarkets like Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods. It can also be purchased online.
Store unopened furikake in a cool, dark, dry place, like a pantry shelf or cupboard. After opening, reseal the container tightly and store it the same way. In terms of shelf life, follow the best-by date listed on the package.
Nutrition and Benefits
The nutrition content of furikake will vary depending on the type and ingredients. However, because furikake generally contains salt, it may not qualify as a low-sodium food. For example, Trader Joe’s Nori Komi Furikake Japanese Multi-Purpose Seasoning contains 220 milligrams of sodium per one-tablespoon serving, to 10 percent of the recommended daily allowance (RDA). The FDA defines low-sodium foods as those containing less than five percent of the RDA of sodium per serving.
Nori Komi Furikake Japanese Multi-Purpose Seasoning Trader Joe’s. 2020.
Nutrition C for FS and A. Sodium in your diet. FDA. Published online October 12, 2021.