Furikake VS Shichimi Togarashi: The Same? How About the Taste?
Both furikake and togarashi use dried seaweed and sesame seeds as a base, but furikake adds dried fish, bonito flakes, and sugar and keeps it dried and crispy. In contrast, togarashi is a powdered spice mix that uses chili peppers and oranges to give it a tangy spicy flavor.
Let’s look at the differences more closely, and when you might choose one over the other.
In this post we'll cover:
What is furikake?
Furikake is a dry Japanese condiment made from a mix of dried seaweed, sesame seeds, salt, and sugar. It’s typically sprinkled on top of rice dishes, but can also be used to flavor other foods like noodles and vegetables.
The taste of furikake is savory and slightly sweet, with a slightly crunchy texture from the sesame seeds.
What is shichimi togarashi?
Togarashi is a Japanese spice blend that usually contains chili pepper flakes, black pepper, sesame seeds, and seaweed. The mix of spices gives togarashi a spicy, tangy flavor with a bit of heat.
Togarashi actually means peppers and can be quite spicy. Shichimi, however, means seven, so shichimi togarashi translates to seven spice seasoning.
How does the taste differ?
Furikake has a savory, slightly sweet flavor, while shichimi togarashi is spicy with a bit of heat. The texture of furikake is also slightly crunchy due to the sesame seeds, while the texture of shichimi togarashi is more powdery.
Also, togarashi brings a little citrus flavor from orange zest. It’s a deep and complex flavor that leans more to the spicy, tangy side.
It’s not overly spicy, though, because the Japanese don’t make their dishes that spicy.
Both use sesame seeds and nori seaweed to get a deep roasted and salty flavor, so that’s where they’re very similar. But that’s also where the similarity stops.
Which blend is best for you?
If you’re looking for a new way to flavor your rice, furikake and shichimi togarashi are worth trying. The best way to decide which one you like best is to taste them both for yourself!
If you like it a little spicier than most Japanese dishes, you can always substitute furikake for togarashi and get in the range of what a spicy furikake would taste like.
Substituting the other way would be harder to do because if the recipe calls for togarashi, you can be sure it needs a little bit of heat. If you want to do that, at least add some chili flakes to the mix to counterbalance the lack of it in furikake.
Both have grown more popular worldwide at an equally steady pace, although furikake has always been the most popular.
It’s also good to note that Togarashi is more popular compared to furikake in countries with a lot of spicy dishes, like India and South America.
And that the United States and Canada also have more searches for it compared to furikake than Japan itself as togarashi has gained more search share abroad than in its home country.
Relative popularity by country
Also read: the best furikake to buy for your pantry
What dishes is furikake used in?
Furikake is most commonly used to flavor rice dishes but can also be used on noodles, vegetables, or in soups.
Some popular rice dishes that use furikake are onigiri (rice balls), sushi, and omurice (omelet over rice).
What dishes is togarashi used in?
Togarashi is used in a variety of dishes, both sweet and savory. It’s often used to flavor ramen noodles, soba noodles, udon noodles, and tempura.
It can also be used to spice up rice dishes, soups, marinades, or sauces. Togarashi is also a popular seasoning for grilled meats or vegetables.
So there you have it, a quick guide to the difference between furikake and shichimi togarashi.
Both are great seasonings that can add new flavor to your dishes. So go ahead and try them both out!
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.