Furikake is a condiment for hot rice. It comes in a variety of flavors but the main ingredient is dried flakes of nori (seaweed). Other seasonings are added, from toasted sesame seeds, dried salmon flakes and umeboshi (plum) to sugar, soy sauce and chili pepper. To enjoy, you simply sprinkle the mixture onto a bowl of steamed rice. For a lot of foreigners, plain white rice becomes more palatable with furikake and a far more socially acceptable choice since it is nearly abhorrent to pour soy sauce on your rice in Japan.
In Japan, furikake also tops yaki soba, fried noodles as well as another favorite dish called okonomiyaki, a type of vegetable pancake. Here in America, chefs use furikake to garnish inventive versions of sushi rolls, and in Hawaii, it is even a popular popcorn topping. I adore furikake of all kinds, but my favorite is any of the ajitsuke versions that are more soy-sweet than salty. Buy furikake in clear bottles and store them in a cool, dry place. Humidity will cause the contents to become sticky.
Use your furikake as you would any condiment for both traditional Japanese recipes, like okonomiyaki, and even American dishes, like scrambled eggs. Here is a great way to add nice furikake flavor to the crunch of panko-breaded fish filets.
½ lb. fresh fish filets (ahi tuna, cod, snapper, etc.)
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup flour
1 tsp. salt
2 cups panko Japanese bread crumbs
¼ cup furikake plus more for topping
vegetable oil for deep frying
Wash the fish filets and pat dry. Cut into approximately 3x4” pieces. In a bowl, beat eggs. Set aside. In another dish, combine the flour and salt. In a third dish, blend panko and furikake.
One at a time, dredge the fish filets into the flour, the dip into beaten eggs and finally coat with furikake-seasoned panko bread crumbs. Place on a platter and continue this process with the remaining fish filets. Cover loosely with waxed paper and place in refrigerator for about at least ten minutes. This will help the coating set so it won’t float away during the frying stage.
Heat the oil to 375 degrees. Deep fry the fish filets, being careful not to overcrowd the pan. Drain on paper towel, sprinkling more furikake on both sides of each cooked fish filet. Do not cover while warm or hot or the coating will soften. Cover only when cooled. Cool to room temperature if adding to a bento box.