How to make your own furikake at home [shrimp & bonito flavor recipe!]

                by Joost Nusselder | Updated:  September 15, 2021

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When it comes to Japanese seasoning, furikake is the one you should definitely try next! If you like to sprinkle flavorful condiments on your rice, vegetables, meat, or seafood, then this umami-flavored seasoning is sure to please.

If you’ve ever tried onigiri, then you’ve already had it because it’s one of the most commonly used condiments for that dish.

Furikake, also known as rice seasoning, is seaweed and seafood-based seasoning made of dried ground-up fish, dry seaweed, sesame seeds, and condiments. It has a savory umami taste that enhances the flavors of any food. 

Now that you know what furikake is, I will talk about all the important things you should know about it and share my favorite homemade furikake recipe!

What is furikake?

Furikake, pronounced “fuh-ree-kaw-kee,” seasoning is traditionally used as a topping for rice, but it tastes great on almost every savory food you can imagine.

If you’ve tasted authentic Japanese cooking then you might’ve seen furikake on steamed rice or on rice balls. It’s one of Japan’s beloved toppings and a delicious type of seasoning.

Furikake is sprinkled to add crunch and flavor to fish, vegetables, and cooked rice. It’s a combination of different varieties of dried ingredients that often include sugar, salt, chopped and dried seaweed, powdered egg, dried fish, white sesame seeds, black sesame seeds, wasabi, monosodium glutamate, and bonito flakes.

The best part is that you can create your own mix, controlling what’s in it by putting as little or as much of any ingredient as you like.

Furikake seasoning offers a great source of protein and other nutrients like calcium. It was first introduced to address calcium deficiency and malnourishment in the Japanese population, especially among children.

Today, it is sold commercially as a catalyst that improves the taste of the food while giving nutritional value.

Furikake is often flakey and brightly colored. It has slight seafood or fish flavoring with a pinch of spicy tang. It is mostly used in Japanese cuisine for rice balls like these onigiri and pickled foods.

In recent years, furikake has gained major prominence in western countries and across the globe. People use it as a seasoning for fried or baked fish, snack foods, and raw fish and meat salads.

In Japan, you can find furikake in every department store. And outside the country, most Asian supermarkets and grocery stores have an aisle for different flavors of furikake.

However, if you are looking for furikake and it’s nowhere to be found even in your local Asian grocery store, your best bet is to look online.

I’ve reviewed the best furikake options and where to buy them here. Of course, you can also make your own, so keep on reading for the homemade furikake recipe.

What does furikake seasoning taste like?

It contains ingredients from the sea like nori seaweed and bonito flakes (dried tuna flakes) so it has a fishy taste and it’s salty. But, it’s a bit more complex than that because the sesame seeds give a delicious nutty flavor too.

So overall, I would describe the taste as umami. It is a crunchy seasoning so expect to hear the crunch in your mouth.

Now that you know what furikake is, you may want to try it to see why people never get bored talking about it. As said, there are different varieties of furikake available in the market, you need to choose one that suits your taste buds.

There are plenty of recipes when it comes to making a furikake recipe. As you can see, furikake seasoning is simply a combination of different flavors and ingredients.

So, you can personalize your furikake with the ingredients you prefer and like and give it a tasty, salty, sour, or spicy flavor.

Now let’s talk about how to make furikake at home. My version of homemade furikake seasoning includes a medley of ingredients, such as leftover bonito flakes (katsuobushi), roasted seaweed, sesame seeds, and more.

Homemade furikake recipe

Homemade Furikake recipe

Joost Nusselder
This furikake recipe makes the ingredients into a delicious and aromatic seasoning. It will add flavor to your plain rice and can also transform any food into something fun and delicious. So, without further ado, let’s jump right into it.
No ratings yet
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
Total Time 20 mins
Course Side Dish
Cuisine Japanese
Servings 4 people

Ingredients
  

  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tbsp dried shrimp
  • ¼ cup bonito flakes
  • 3 tbsp sesame seeds
  • 1 tbsp dried seaweed
  • 1 tbsp dried salmon or anchovies
  • soy sauce optional to taste

Instructions
 

  • Take a dry frying pan and put it over high heat
  • When the pan is properly heated, put the sesame seeds and toast until they produce a bit of smoke and a roasted aroma (say about 1 minute).
  • Transfer the roasted sesame seeds into a bowl.
  • Take the seaweed and crumble it into the bowl of roasted sesame seeds. If your seaweed isn’t crusty and crisp, toast it for about 30 seconds over the frying pan. Make sure that you don’t burn it.
  • Now, into the bowl, sprinkle bonito flakes, dried shrimps, and dried salmon (or anchovies – whatever you have or like).
  • Toss it well so the mixture forms well.
  • Next, season the mixture with sugar and salt. You can reduce or increase the quantity of both sugar and salt according to your requirements. If you want, you can also add a few drops of soy sauce for an additional tangy flavor.
  • Transfer the mixture into an airtight jar. This will keep the flavor intact for a month or two. I would recommend that you use it within a month of preparation to avoid any contamination.

Video

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Notes

Note: The quantity of ingredients is only for a few servings. I recommend that you start with the given quantities so that you get the idea of how much you need when you are preparing more quantity.
Keyword Seasoning
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

My favorite ingredient to use is:

Kaneso Tokuyou Hanakatsuo , Dried Bonito Flakes

(view more images)

Check out all of my favorite ingredients here

Additional ingredients you can add

When it comes to Japanese seasoning furikake is great because it is customizable to suit your tastes. You can take out or add in whatever other condiments you want. It’s more than a simple rice seasoning.

Not sure what to add? Check out this shortlist and maybe you’ll feel inspired to take your furikake seasoning mix to the next level.

You can, of course, use other ingredients too but these ones are traditional Japanese ones.

Are you too busy to make your own? Find out the best furikake brands to buy here.

How do you use furikake?

Originally, furikake was mainly used as a seasoning for rice dishes.

But these days, you’ll see furikake used as a topping on all kinds of foods. Japanese people are quite creative in the kitchen.

Here are some ways you can use furikake:

Honestly, you can sprinkle this on your favorite comfort food or dish to make it tastier.

How about trying it on the ultimate comfort food: Zosui Japanese rice soup

Origin of furikake

The idea of furikake is very old. But, the actual seasoning called furikake originates in the late 1950s.

For centuries before that, it was made from dried fish like shark, red snapper, and salmon but it wasn’t really the furikake we know today. 

Furikake, unlike other centuries-old Japanese foods, is a new tradition.

In fact, the interesting part about its history is that furikake was not created by a chef to add flavor, but rather by a pharmacist to provide nutritional supplements!

The seasoning is named after “Furi Kakeru,” a Japanese verb meaning “to sprinkle over.”

Nutritional deficiencies & war

Modern furikake was created in the Taisho era (1921-1926). It came about as a result of a nutritional deficiency among the local population.

The Japanese population grew by two-thirds between 1867 and 1912.

It was a time of war and general poverty. The Japanese empire was undergoing a constant expansion of its military power. Many wars were waged to expand its control. The war machine was fuelled first, so Japan experienced a shortage of food.

An unhealthy and poor diet caused the population and the army to develop serious calcium deficiencies.

One pharmacist was worried about the low calcium content in Japanese food.

Suekichi Yoshimaru, a pharmacist, came up with the idea of a calcium supplement from ground-up fish bones to address malnutrition. 

Yoshimaru decided that children wouldn’t like the taste of the bonemeal, so he mixed it with sesame seeds and nori flakes. He suggested making powder from dried fish, which is rich in calcium.

Mixing sesame with herbs (shiso), he made a powder that can be used as a calcium supplement for people who don’t like fish. So basically that’s how furikake came to be.

Nowadays, furikake is more than a seasoning though. It is a way to support the health of Japanese people through food because it’s not really considered a supplement. 

Gohan No Tomo

Yoshimaru’s original powder is the precursor to furikake and it was called Gohan No Tomo. 

Gohan No Tomo‘s successes inspired Seiichirou Kai to attempt his own version. The powdered and ithimochi (white croaker fish), was cooked in a soy sauce mixture.

Next, it was dehydrated and mixed with sesame and nori seeds. Kai’s brand was called Kore wa Umai or “This Is Good.” His business grew to Tokyo where he created the noritama seaweed flavor and the egg flavor.

In World War 1, soldiers received rations from the army in the form of Gohan No Tomo, which were inexpensive and stable supplements.

Furikake was a favorite of soldiers, and it became more popular after they returned home.

These seasonings became collectively known as furikake in 1959 and they still use this name to date. 

Nutritional information

The first question many people ask is:

Is furikake healthy?

Yes, furikake is generally a healthy seasoning.

Dulse seaweed has a high level of calcium and magnesium. It also contains high levels of potassium, magnesium, protein, and fiber.

Dulse, like all seaweeds, is one of the best natural sources of iodine. This essential mineral is vital for your thyroid gland’s ability to regulate your metabolism, heart function, and brain function, helping you to think better. 

Almost all of furikake’s ingredients are safe. You should not overuse furikake though and consume it in moderation because of its high sodium content. A small amount packs a powerful flavor. 

This seasoning contains a lot of salt due to the soy sauce as well as the seasoned seaweed. As a result, the seasoning is very salty and should be avoided by those who have high cholesterol.

One problem with furikake is the addition of MSG (Monosodium glutamate). Not all furikake seasonings contain this additive. The reason MSG is supposedly bad for health is that it overstimulates the nerve cells.

FAQs

How do you store furikake rice seasoning?

Furikake is not like salt and it does expire and spoil. However, it can last for a while, especially the store-bought variety.

Pre-bought seasonings should be checked for expiration dates on the packaging. However, it must be noted that the expiration date is the date before you open the packet.

Once you open the seasoning, you must keep it in the fridge. It should be consumed within one month.

You should remember that homemade furikake doesn’t last as long as the store-bought varieties.

After your homemade furikake cools, store it in an airtight container. Eat it within 3-4 days. 

It can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a month if it is not possible. You can also freeze homemade and store-bought furikake for up to one month.

Also find out if miso can expire (storage tips & how to tell when it goes bad)

Is furikake gluten-free?

Most store-bought furikake is not gluten-free. However, some brands like AoNori Goma Furikake Rice Seasoning are now gluten, salt, and MSG-free.

Generally, seaweed is gluten-free but sometimes they add certain additives and soy powder that contains gluten. Therefore, the seasoning has gluten. Make sure to check the label.

If you make furikake at home you can make it gluten-free.

What are the different types of furikake?

Did you know that furikake is a popular seasoning for kids? It’s used to improve the flavor of bland rice dishes and vegetables to encourage kids to eat their food.

But, these days adults really love this topping and new flavors are constantly created.

One of the most popular furikake flavors is sansho which is a Japanese pepper and this spicy variety is perfect for spicing up a boring food.

Another popular kind is the wasabi with a strong taste.

Then, you have the classic bonito flake furikake (katsuo) and the noritama made with Nori seaweed and tamago. These have small pieces of colorful fish flakes that you can see.

Also popular but less common, you’ve got the sake salmon furikake and the cod roe (tarako) and these are perfect for fish lovers.

Most furikake doesn’t contain any shellfish or nuts so generally it’s safe for people with allergies but always check first. And of course, watch out if you have an allergy to sesame seeds, as they are often in furikake.

Is furikake vegetarian or vegan?

The answer is no because this seasoning usually contains bonito flakes and other dried fish.

If you want to make it vegan though, you can use nori and shiitake powder instead of bonito flakes and fried fish.

With a little bit of creativity and ingredient substitutions, you can make furikake vegan, gluten-free, etc.

What is the best furikake in the store?

One of the best brands Marumiya and their seasoning is called Noritama. It’s a really classic and popular furikake seasoning and most Japanese people know about it.

This brand has several types of furikake but it’s one of the best because it combines the flavor of nori with egg and it has a colorful appearance so it looks appealing.

Takeaway

Next time you make rice balls, onigiri, or you feel like your food tastes a bit bland, take some furikake seasoning and sprinkle it on top. You’ll be surprised by the salty and fishy flavor that doesn’t overpower the food but adds a pleasant crunch.

Since this rice seasoning is available online and in most Asian grocery stores, you should have no problem finding it and I promise you’ll love it.

You can even use it as a topping for your popcorn for movie night! Don’t be afraid to experiment with this versatile seasoning.

Read next: these are the best Okonomiyaki Toppings and Fillings

Ever had trouble finding Japanese recipes that were easy to make?

We now have "cooking Japanese with ease", our full recipe book and video course with step-by-step tutorials on your favorite recipes.

Joost Nusselder, the founder of Bite My Bun is a content marketer, dad and loves trying out new food with Japanese food at the heart of his passion, and together with his team he's been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with recipes and cooking tips.