“Furikake” What is it?
Furikake is a Japanese condiment made to be sprinkled on top of cooked rice, vegetables, and fish served on special occasions. Furikake originates from red rice (赤飯 せきはん) developed from a mixture of sticky rice and red beans. Later, things such as sesame seeds, pickled plums (umeboshi), and other dried and flaked ingredients were added to ensure that each mix tasted delicious. Frequently, this dried mixed seasoning has been used as ochazuke to be scattered over steamed rice served with a light soup.
Furikake typically consists of a mixture of ground ingredients seasoned with tasty spices. As it is necessary to crush the well-mixed ingredients until they are dry and flaky, original furikake is basically filled with chopped seaweed and sesame seeds. Nowadays, several Japanese manufacturers have relied on freeze-drying technology evolved for the production of furikake to maintain its flawless quality and delicious taste.
Another furikake-making technique is made easier with the preparation of well-selected ingredients and delectable seasonings mixed and ground together at the same time. Known in Japanese as 生ふりかけ, meaning fresh furikake, this convenient method is highly suitable for making furikake with the addition of sea-based ingredients such as:
• ちりめんじゃこ or dried sardines
• ワカメ or wakame seaweed
• 昆布 or kombu seaweed
• 魚のそぼろ or seasoned minced fish
Actually, furikake debuted during the Taisho and Showa periods for the purpose of added flavor and health treatment. Therefore, Japanese people, particularly from the food manufacturing sector, determined to develop an innovative edible product that could support the above mentioned ideas and satisfy people at large.
Similarly, local people in Kumamoto invented a brand-new food product called ‘Gohan No Tomo’ (御飯の友), meaning ‘Friend of Rice’, to fight back the problem of calcium deficiency that tortured Japanese people in the early Taisho period. With a perfect blend of crushed small fish and essential nutrients, this edible product was selected as a major food supply for Japanese troops and was also popular among young children during the post-war period. Obviously, such a product has inspired the development of today’s furikake.