“Sprinkling” would be the closest translation of “furikake”, though I guess “topping” sounds more correct. Furikake ふりかけ(“furikakeru” means “to sprinkle” is one of those Japanese food inventions that merits to be more known and practiced all around the world. If you don’t like eating plain white rice (I know many of us Westerners are not big fans) and you have already been bored with soy sauce as seasoning, then furikake is what you are looking for! It is a more or less complex condiment sprinkled on top of rice, bringing additional flavours and texture. A bowl of steamed rice, a fried or poached egg on top and some good quality furikake are a dream meal for me!
Every time I go to Japan, apart from the usual, well-known and loved products, I bring newly discovered food items. Last November I brought several kinds of what I believe to be high quality furikake (I was told that cheaper “supermarket” furikake tend to contain MSG and/or chemical preserving agents). I liked all of them, but one furikake particularly stood out of the whole lot. As soon as I ended the package, I decided to copy it or make something as similar as possible. I have managed to decipher only a part of the ingredients, but thanks to my Japanese friend A. and her precious help I was able to start experimenting and… I think I have succeeded! I no longer have the original furikake to compare, but my homemade version tastes almost the same and is definitely equally delicious. It is salty, sweet, slightly sour, slightly smokey, packed with umami… addictive and fantastic treat for all the katsuobushi fans!
TIPS: The below amounts should be treated as an example. Adjust the flavours to your own preferences (especially in terms of sweetness, acidity and saltiness).
Sake is not on the ingredients’ list, so you can skip it (I thought it added a very pleasant aroma).
If you don’t have shiitake powder or konbu powder, use a coffee or spice grinder to grind drired konbu and shiitake. You can also use fresh shiitake, but I’d grind them first in a food processor and dry in the oven. (Using fresh mushrooms will cut down the shelf life of the furikake.)
The ingredients on the package (and below) contain “konbu dashi” (Japanese seaweed stock). It’s very easy to prepare, but if you don’t want to bother, I guess you can use a powdered version. I have never posted a konbu dashi recipe, but luckily there is Nami and her Just One Cookbook blog! Click here to see her very well explained konbu dashi recipe.
Preparation: about 15 minutes
2 big handfuls of katsuobushi (preferably small or medium flakes)
1 heaped tablespoon toasted white sesame seeds
2 tablespoons sugar or syrup or honey
4 tablespoons konbu dashi (powdered or click here to see Nami’s konbu dashi recipe)
1 tablespoon mirin
1 tablespoon sake
1 teaspoon powdered konbu
1 teaspoon dried shiitake
3 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce or 1/2 of it normal soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 teaspoon oil
If you use sugar, dissolve it in dashi.
Heat the oil in a pan.
Add half of the kastuobushi and the sesame seeds.
Stir-fry on low heat until the katsuobushi start becoming golden.
Take the pan off the heat.
Add all the liquids, the syrup or the honey and the powdered shiitake and konbu.
Continue simmering the mixture until the liquids evaporate.
Taste and adjust the flavours (add more vinegar/salt/sugar or syrup).
When the mixture starts sticking to the pan, add the rest of katsuobushi.
Give it a stir and store refrigerated in a closed jar. (It should keep several weeks in the fridge or maybe even months, since there are no fresh products that might spoil).