Furikake, The Friend of Rice
Furikake is a sprinkle that is use along with rice.
A quintessential part of Bento box that first discovered in the Kamakura period but the commercialization begin during the World War 2.
Furikake win over the heart of Japanese people for decorating bento box.
After the commercialization started, new flavor and color has been introduced.
Behind the beautiful and colorful furikake there are debates regarding the health benefits and MSG used inside it.
As the world is changing towards healthy and clean eating, more peoples opt to use MSG in their food.
Some just follow the trend while some really do understood.
To unfold it, this article will narrow down the debate and let the consumer choose.
Furikake, The Friend of Rice
History of Furikake
Though historian said that Furikake discovered in Kamakura era but the commercialization started later than that due to the demand and food deficiency among the Japanese people. During the Taisho Era (1912-1926), Japanese peoples suffered from calcium deficiency due to the World War 1. Yoshimaru Suekichi, a pharmacist from Kumamoto region created Furikake by grounding fish bones and mixed it with roast sesame seeds and poppy seed. To address calcium deficits that happened to the children and also to aid calcium for the army, Furikake spread across Japan. He named Furikake as Gohan no Tomo (Rice’s Friend). At the end of Taisho (1912-1926) and pre-World War 2 Showa (1926-1989) periods, Japa Traditional healthy diet begin to boost the life of Japanese people. The manifestation of Japanese Traditional Diet begin with the introduction of meat and oil introduced by the west, Furikake was one of the key indicator for the Traditional Japanese food diet. In 1959, The National Furikake Association was established and Gohan no Tomo adopted new name as Furikake.
The Intrinsic Value of Furikake
What is Furikake and how to use it?
It is a child’s play. Very easy. Just sprinkle on your rice. Or these are the suggestion what can of foods that is commonly use with Furikake. Firstly of course sprinkle it on rice or mix it and make onigiri. These are common way of using Furikake. However, sprinkle on rice or for onigiri. As the culture of using Furikake is spreading overseas, the consumer introduce new way of consuming it. Such as by sprinkle on pasta. Or flavoring the popcorn. ”
For Bento Lunch box
The colorful furikake becomes part of the decoration on Bento box especially for Kyaraben. Using Furikake we can create any desirable shape. The Japanese food culture value the appearance and taste, this value has been passed down to the current generation through bento box. Mothers willing to wake up early in morning, to create Kyaraben to anticipate the children. Using the Furikake for decoration and at the same time provide enough nutrient to the children, Furikake is very ideal for bento box. This customer-centric product have made it much love by the consumer.
On hot rice
Another interesting fact is even the dried furikake, will melt when it is mixed with hot rice. On the other hand, Furikake also can be eaten with tea, the famous Ochazuke Furikake. This so Japanese Food is so much worth a try.
Varieties of Furikake's Flavor
The most famous Furikake sold in Amazon is no other than Nori Tama. A Furikake made out from eggs and seaweed.
The reason why it is much love because of the crunchiness of dried eggs can still be tasted even after mix with hot rice.
Nori Tama is among the early flavor invented in the furikake history.
Katsuo is something that can never be forgotten to have an authentic Japanese cuisine.
Even as a Furikake, Katsuo Furikake is very delicious and full of nutritious effect.
Made out from the slice dried of tuna fish, it is perfect for any dishes even for Pizza and pasta.
History told that Shiso, a Japanese herb which was first used as a garnish on Kaisei Ryori (Japanese multi course cuisine).
But then to avoid waste or just like the word mottainai popularized by the Nobel Prize winner Wangari Maathai, the Japanese started to consume it as a part of the dish.
Surprisingly it clicked well with any dishes, and even become one of the flavor.
The most common flavor at the onigiri rack that can be found in any Japanese convenient store.
Using salmon furikake for bento will add beautiful color to the bento box and at the same time provide iron.
Salmon furikake is commonly be used as an onigiri bento as well.
It is the simplest Furikake can be found out. Combination of sesame seed with salt gave a pure and crunchy taste.
For those who prefer simplicity in their food, this is the most recommendable especially for garnishing and give flavor to the salad or even pasta.
As expectedly, Goma shio compatible any dishes.
The only spiciness that can be found in Japanese cuisine is by adding Shichimi into the dish.
Shichimi is a seven spices made from chili powder and other spices.
It can be seen at any table of restaurants in Japan. For those who prefer their soba to have spiciness flavor can add shichimi into your bowl.
Some said that using spiciness can violate the Japanese traditional flavor, while others said that Japanese prefer Assari (light flavor). But surprisingly enough shichimi even the others furikake can act as a seasoning for Japanese dishes. Undoubtedly, Furikake have the ability to adapt with the Japanese dishes and gave natural umami or spiciness flavor into it. Hence it become an indispensable item in Japanese dishes and cuisine.
Choosing the right Furikake
From the Texture
A lot of effort has been made to expand and market the Furikake product. This unique to Japan only product stayed in the heart of the consumer for a long time since it first invention. Apart from that, it also require a lot of new evolution and invention to revamp the taste, texture and made more accessible to the consumer.
Dried and Soft
|Expiration date is longer
||Expiration date is shorter
Dried Furikake is the classic powdered Furikake. There is crunchiness that will soften and melt in your mouth or over the hot steam rice. This dried Furikake is easy to mix with any types of dishes or act as a seasoning. On the other hand the soft type, is a new type of Furikake. It has a soft and moist texture. This soft type able to retain the original texture without overdrying it, especially for Salmon and Plum. The real fleshy and plummy taste as you chew it. With the idea of protecting the taste and target age are 50s and 60s. It has become new revolution of Furikake.
From the Packaging
Apart from the texture, manufacturer also attempted various ways in attracting the users to become more familiar and accessible with the product.
In Assorted Furikake, you can find many types of Furikake in one pack. For example the assortment will include Nori Tama, Salmon, Okaka, Tarako, and Sukiyaki. This is very ideal for five days bento. What interesting about this assorted Furikake is, it also has special edition for various anime and cartoon characters such as Pokemon, Doraemon and even Snoopy.
Furikake for Adult
The name sound so exclusive. In fact, it is exclusive for adult with restriction for the children. The real reason behind this is because the fact that the invention of Furikake was to give nutrient for the children has made it ironically not popular among the adult till 1989. However to twist it, companies begin to introduce Otona Furikake (Furikake for Adult). New distinct and strong flavors were introduced such as adding wasabi to give pungency, curry Furikake for the spiciness and sukiyaki Furikake for the smoky taste. All this effort have resulted in new side of Furikake with new look for the packaging and varieties of taste.
The taste of Umami inside of Furikake
MSG Umami or Natural Umami?
MSG or Monosodium Glutamate is a popular ingredient that can be found in almost all processed food. It was founded by a professor from Japan namely Kikunae Ikeda. He managed to separate Glutamic Acid from the Kombu (Japanese Kelp) and mix it with Sodium Salt, the substance then become a crystalline powder. This crystalline powder is white and odorless. When it used with meat or any vegetable, it will enhance the flavor and deliver the umami taste. The sixth taste “Umami” was given after this discovery of MSG.There are many debate floating behind MSG as well journal and countless of researches has been done. There no exact answer of how MSG have bad effect on the human health.
This uncertainty resulted in the current people drifting from using the MSG. The significant event that happened to Robert Ho Man Kwok in 1969, who had first-hand experience a Chinese restaurant syndrome today known as MSG symptom complex. Symptoms such as numbness, general weakness and palpitation appeared to him after 15 to 20 minutes after eaten the first dish. Due to this event lots of people begin to opt from using MSG in their dishes. But surprisingly, the U.S Food and Drug administration (FDA) carefully addressed this situation. Ultimately, it has been classified asgenerally recognized safe (GRAS). Researches regarding the side effect of MSG were done and redone countlessly. The result show that side effect only happened to those wh consumed large amount of MSG.
Natural umami can be found in the everyday vegetable such as Tomatoes, mushrooms, Katsuobushi, seaweed, konbu and as well soy sauce, meat extract. The taste of Umami has existed since year before it was discovered and commercialized. The fact is we did not realized it and always depend on the MSG. As many of the real food already contained of umami flavor. Is there any need to actually enhance the taste, is somewhat baffling fact that some might ask. Just like the case of MSG overdose, even if MSG is safe, we don’t how much we have actually eaten in a day which can be very dangerous for our health. If there is necessities it is definitely permissible to use it. But isn’t it said that preventing is better than curing. Therefore cutting down the intake of MSG is suggested and using the real food as the main of our dietary will be the best choice.
Our stand and view on Furikake and Healthy Eating
These recent years, everyone is moving forward towards the healthy and clean eating. The discoveries of various types of disease which have things to do with eating has made people conscious of what we are taking every day. These changes is going the good direction for preventing those diseases taking over our body. Due to this changes, companies and farmers also moving to the direction of providing clean, healthy and organic food. Over the centuries lots of changes has been made in the food chemical in order to have longer expiration period. However people are beginning to wonder this is good or not, not much researches has been made regarding this area. But for sure, eating real food is better than processed food. Raw, clean and healthy is better than the chemical and processed.
Make your own Furikake
The Famous Noritama Furikake
If you like egg, especially egg yolk, then this recipe must be the one for you. It so simple that you'll be grinning ear to ear while making it
- 8-10 sheets (big) 15-20 sheets (big)
- 5-8 small packets
- ・White Sesame seeds
- 3 tables spoons
- ・Black Sesame seeds
- 3 tables spoons
- ・Soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon
- ・Egg Yolk
- ・Salt and Sugar
- according to preference
- Cut the seaweed into small pieces
- Boiled the eggs, and take out the yolks
- Preheat the pan over low heat
- Toast the seaweed along with the Katsuobushi until it crisps, turned off the heat and transfer it into a bowl
- Put all the other ingredient into the same bowl and mix it well
- Put into a tight jar. And sprinkle it onto the rice whenever you like.
- Tips, if you want it to be crunchy you can heat the yolks with the seaweed and katsuobushi but do not overheat it