Have you heard of the Japanese spice called furikake? It consists of a combination of dry and ground ingredients to be used in Japanese cuisine or simply poured over the rice for flavor.
Furikake [振り掛け] is the addition of verbs furi [振り] which means to mix, shake, swing with the verb kake [掛け] which means to spill, drop or suspend. The name has everything to do with this combination of seasoning.
It is usually colorful and shiny, with a slight flavor of fish or seafood and is sometimes peppery. There is a huge variety of furikake, the Japanese can even make their own at home.
How furikake is used
Furikake is a seasoning to use instead of salt in Japanese rice, which is usually cooked without salt. Just open the package, swing and drop it on the rice and eat. It is really very delicious.
It can also be used in Japanese cuisine for pickling food and rice balls (onigiri). That is, if used for condiment it can be used to color and flavor other recipes.
Since 2003, it is gaining more and more acceptance in the US (mainly in Hawaii and the west coast) as a seasoning for roasted or fried fish, raw fish salads and snacks.
Some American spices that resembles the furikake, but it has a completely different use. There is a seasoning of fish that I don't remember the name, chimichurri and even edu guedes. Both have dry and ground ingredients.
Furikake is believed to have arisen in the Taisho Period (1912-1926) by a Kumamoto pharmacist named Suekichi Yoshimaru. At first he just wanted to end the lack of calcium in the Japanese population.
To do this, he made a mixture of ground fish bones with roasted sesame seeds, poppy seeds and seaweed that turned into powder. He named it Gohan on Tomo which means friend of rice.
The product was literally created to be mixed in rice and to increase calcium in Japanese cuisine. The product was so delicious that it was marketed by a food company.
Later on, a variation on Fukushima appeared made from white croaker, kombu and other ingredients based on soy sauce. It was launched under the name of Kore Wa Umai that means that's nice!
Initially being a luxury item, the availability of furikake it increased dramatically in September 1948 when Nissin started to manufacture it on a large scale, in order to deal with Japanese malnutrition. The product was rich in protein and calcium.
Being a great source of energy for the Japanese army, the furikake gained this name only in 1959 with the appearance of National Furikake Association. In the past, each product had a different name according to its ingredients.
The main ingredients of furikake
As already mentioned, there are a multitude of types of furikake. Anyone can take any dehydrated, dry and ground ingredients and create their own seasoning. Below are the most popular ingredients:
Nori - One of the main ingredients that make up the furikake, a kind of leaf made from seaweed.
Monosodium glutamate - A sodium salt of glutamic acid, one of the most abundant non-essential amino acids that occur in nature. This ingredient is used to introduce the flavor umami.
Katsuobushi - It is a dry canned meat of bonito, fermented and cut and blocks, providing an umami flavor.
Yuzu - The dry peel of this beautiful sour fruit is used.
Shiso - An Asian plant that was used as a garnish until they discovered it was edible and colored the food.
Salmon - Dry salmon flakes are one of the most popular ingredients in seasoning. Only fresh flaked salmon is also used as a topping on rice.
Sesame seeds - It is customary to use whole or crushed sesame seeds.
Wasabi - A green root, usually served in paste, used to spice up the dishes.
Okaka - Tuna flakes wet in soy sauce and dried again.
In addition to the ingredients mentioned above, dry eggs, powdered miso, vegetables and several other ingredients are used. The imagination is the limit!
Gomásio - An alternative to salt
In addition to furikake there is a similar seasoning called Gomásio [ごま塩], an important alternative to salt, because it does not produce its harmful effects. Gomashio is usually an ingredient in furikake.
It has the advantage of neutralizing the acidity of the blood, favoring the secretion of digestive juices, stimulating the metabolism in addition to being very rich in calcium.
It is also called sesame salt, which is very popular in Japanese cuisine. The Japanese name gomashio [胡麻塩] is literally sesame salt [塩] [ごま or 胡麻].
In addition to them, there are other spices such as shichimi made of pepper and popular in pasta soups, not to mention the ochazuke made of green tea.
Where to buy Furikake?
In Japan you can easily find it in convenience stores or markets. Outside Japan, the furikake it can be found in most oriental markets and in the Asian food section of some large supermarkets.
If you want to buy online I recommend Konbini Store here you can easily find various types for only 13 reais and several other products of Japanese cuisine.
Finally, I will leave a video of our friend Santana who talks a little about this delicious seasoning that spills over rice. If you liked, share and leave your comments.