Japanese Cooking: Homemade Furikake
Furikake is a seasoning used in Japanese cooking to flavor rice, vegetables, and soups. Though it can be found in many stores, it is often cheaper and better for your health to make your own from scratch. Outside of Japan, furikake is often expensive and contains unhealthy ingredients like MSG and large quantities of salt.
Making your own furikake seasoning is simple. Though many foods can be used, ingredients like the green leafy tops of daikon radishes, bonito flakes, and soy sauce are the most common. If daikon radish tops are not available, or are too expensive, regular radish tops can work just as well.
Other common ingredients used in furikake include nori, sesame seeds, and carrots. Just about any kind of food can be used in the seasoning, so experimenting with ingredients can be a great way to find new flavors. Don't forget to note which ingredients were used if you happen upon a particularly tasty batch, so you can recreate it again in the future.
When you've decided on the ingredients, finely chop or grate any of the larger foods. Using a food processor for this step can save a lot of time. Then, using low to medium heat, dry out the ingredients in an oil-free, non-stick pan. Remember that the volume of food will shrink as you dry the ingredients, so prepare larger quantities of each food to compensate for the loss.
It is recommended that the ingredients be added to the pan in the order of each food's moisture content. The "wet" foods should be added first, the "medium" foods next, and the "dry" foods towards the end. Depending on the moisture level of each food, this can be a lengthy step. Be sure that you leave an adequate amount of time for drying.
Once the moisture has been removed from each of the ingredients, add any pre-dried foods to the pan. Top this off with just a splash of soy sauce and stir until the liquid has evaporated. Depending of your preferences, more or less soy sauce can be added to increase or decrease the intensity of the salt flavor. If you would like a sweeter furikake seasoning, sugar can be added as the last ingredient.
After the soy sauce has evaporated, the furikake is ready to be used as a seasoning. Simply sprinkle the desired amount on top of rice, vegetables, or soup and enjoy. Any left-over furikake can be stored in the refrigerator for around a week. The drier the seasoning, the longer it can be safely stored.
As you can see, homemade furikake is simple to make. It is also better for your health and costs less than buying it pre-made from the grocery store. Because you are free to choose from a wide range of ingredients, furikake seasoning can compliment a variety of meals. So experiment with flavors and enjoy this delicious part of Japanese cuisine.