Furikake (Rice Seasoning) with Chilli and Prune

ts_furikakeFurikake is one of the – still not famous enough – wonders of the Japanese cuisine. It’s usually translated as “seasoning” or “topping”, but to be precise it comes from the verb “furikakeru”, which means “to sprinkle” and is supposed to be sprinkled just before eating, usually on rice. If you don’t like the taste of pure white rice and are fed up with soaking it in soy sauce (so many of us, Westerners, do it…), furikake is your friend. Japanese supermarkets carry dozens of different furikake kinds, so most people never prepare them at home. Most brands add preservatives, MSG or tons of salt, but if you go to a small shop selling its own mixtures or those from smaller producers, you might discover delicious unique creations and soon get addicted to them.

Last year I bought several different furikake bags from a small high-quality grocery shop in Tokyo and loved all of them. I even managed to copy (more or less…) my favourite of them all (see the recipe here) and it was the beginning of my homemade furikake adventures. Nowadays I constantly have at least two kinds of furikake in my kitchen and cannot imagine running out of them.

The story behind this second furikake is a bit different since I haven’t tasted the original, basing my recipe on the description and ingredients’ list found on Food Sake Tokyo. The furikake called “taberu togarashi”, bought by Yukari (the author of the blog) at the famous Tokyo fish market seemed so fabulous, I  started to work on my own copy straight away. (In the meantime I have put down “Karaimonoya” (からいもの屋, meaning “spicy food shop”), the name of the shop where Yukari bought it, for my next trip to Tokyo). I had to work out my own ratio of the ingredients and replaced dried apricot with prune, but the result was a stunning explosion of flavours. Apart from the typical furikake products (dried bonito flakes, sesame seeds or seaweed), this one gets a mighty kick from chilli powder, a sour touch from yukari (see the TIPS), while the sweet and tangy prune adds to the complexity of flavours and makes it simply addictive. You can use it on rice, noodles, omelettes, meat, fish… the possibilities are endless, but I always prefer steamed white rice.

Food Sake Tokyo is one of the best sources – if not the best one –  to find gourmet and unique eating, food shopping or drinking spots in Tokyo, with a big part dedicated to Tsukiji fish market. Yukari (the author) has also written a Tokyo food guide and organises Tokyo food tours, so make sure you visit her blog. If you don’t plan trips to Japan, she will at least make you dream.

TIPS: Some of you might not be familiar with “yukari”, one of the ingredients of this furikake. Yukari is a very dark furikake made from salt and red shiso/perilla leftover from Japanese plum pickling process. You can find it in every Japanese grocery shop (at least here), but if you don’t have access to it, replace it with sumac which is also sour and then maybe adjust the salt content.

This particular furikake is dry, so it can be made in big amounts, stored at room temperature and also easily carried to work, on trips or family visits (now you know it: I am one of those crazy people who travel with their own spices and seasoning).

-Obtaining ground dried fruit
The preparation of this furikake is very quick, apart from the ground prunes (or apricots, if you want to be closer to the original recipe), which are crucial here. In order to obtain this form you must dry the already dried fruit in the oven (lowest temperature) until it toughens a bit (don’t burn it!). You can also leave it in a dry warm spot in the kitchen and wait several days until it dries enough to be ground. Then you can reduce it into powder with a spice or coffee grinder or a food processor. The “powder” will be slightly chunky and slightly soft. I haven ever tried grinding very soft dried fruit, so I cannot say if it works without an additional drying stage. Another method to obtain the ground dried fruit is to mix it in a food processor and then dry for some time. After that, you can reduce it into powder in a coffee or spice grinder.

Since I have invented the ingredients’ ratio on my own, feel free to modify it and adapt to your taste.

Preparation: about 10 minutes if you have already dried the fruit enough to be ground

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon toasted white sesame seeds

1 tablespoon black sesame seeds

1 big sheet of nori (the seaweed used to make maki sushi)

2 heaped tablespoons ground dried prunes or apricots (see the TIPS above)

1 heaped tablespoon medium hot chilli powder or flakes (I have used Korean chilli)

1 tablespoon yukari (slightly sour, red shiso and salt-based seasoning; can be replaced with sumac, see the TIPS above)

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons katsuobushi (dried bonito flakes), smaller bits or big ones mixed in a grinder

Cut the nori sheet into pieces and grind them in a coffee or spice grinder.

Combine all the ingredients. Taste and adjust the amounts.

Store in a closed jar at room temperature (it will keep for a very long time).

13 thoughts on “Furikake (Rice Seasoning) with Chilli and Prune

  1. A_Boleyn

    I’m amazed at the variety of dishes you keep presenting. Dried ground fruit in what I only think of as a rice seasoning is something I’ve never thought of. I have a mostly full jar of furikake in my pantry and never seem to remember to use it. I should really change that. 🙂

    1. Sissi Post author

      Thank you for such a kind comment! I would have never thought of adding dried apricot or prune to anything Japanese really…but it works wonders here. Furikake makes me use less soy sauce (less salt) and is such a nice change from the boring soy sauce… I also like to put it on fried/poached egg.

  2. mjskitchen

    Well this is certainly a new one. Have never heard of furikake seasoning and have certainly never seen a seasoning mix with dried prunes. How very interesting! I have to agree with A-B…you come up with the most unusual seasoning and dishes. You are and have always opened my eyes to a whole new world. I’m trying to imagine the taste of this but having problems because I’m unfamiliar with yukari. I see another trip to the Asian market coming up. 🙂

    1. Sissi Post author

      Hi, MJ. The Japanese eat rice almost at every meal, so no wonder they have come up with a way to make it more fun 😉 (Though I know they all love it pure and white… not soaked in soy sauce, as we do in the West). I love furikake also for fried/poached eggs and on pasta. It adds so much taste! Yukari is a bit similar in taste to the Middle-Eastern sumac, which maybe is easier to get…

  3. mae

    What a fascinating blog post! I have eaten Japanese food in the US and in Japan, and was never aware of this spice mixture. As a Westerner who finds rice kind of bland and unappealing, I can see how this would really change the way it tastes beyond just adding something salty. Thanks!

    best… mae at maefood.blogspot.com

    1. Sissi Post author

      Thank you so much, Mae. I appreciate good Japanese rice on its own, but I can eat this way just a small part of my bowl, so I was happy to discover the huge possibilities furikake offer. It’s such a nice change from soy sauce only!
      Thank you for visiting my blog!

  4. Kelly @ Inspired Edibles

    I’m so glad you brought this to our attention. Furikake is not something I have much experience with (though I do have a great deal of experience with the combination of rice and soy sauce 😉 ) Actually, my first love with rice is cooked tomato – something my mom used to prepare for us when I was young. I would love to play around with these beautiful seasonings on rice. I am MSG sensitive (and even more sensitive to sulfites) so I have to be very careful about sauces/mixtures – love the idea of making it from scratch. The dried prunes/apricot sound delightful in this mixture!

    1. Sissi Post author

      Thanks a lot, Kelly. I’m glad you are also attracted to this idea! I am a bit bored with soy sauce as the sole rice seasoning in my Japanese/Korean dishes, so furikake is always a welcome change.
      I bought several good quality furikake in Tokyo (without artificial preservatives or MSG) but I found them a bit too sweet or too salty… so it’s great to discover one can copy them (more or less).

  5. Katerina

    Japan is a country I wish I will be able to visit one day! All this info is new to me and so interesting! This sprinkle looks really tasty especially with the dried prunes!

    1. Sissi Post author

      Hi, Katerina. I’m sure you would enjoy a visit to Japan greatly. Thank you so much for the compliments!

  6. nipponnin

    Furikake! I love it! Sprinkle on the warm rice and voila! so satisfying and comforting! When I don’t have a much appetite, I just pour hot water or tea on rice along with furikake for ochazuke style (porridge)! Apricot and prune make sweeter furikake, that’s so new concept.

    1. Sissi Post author

      Thank you so much, Nipponnin. It was the first time I saw a description of sweet and spicy furikake, so I had to test it at home! And it was fantastic.

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