I’ve seen furikake get called ‘the salt and pepper of Japan’, and back in college I learned why. The stuff is delicious and I can’t get enough of it. Asian supermarkets will often carry an amazing and colorful assortment of furikake jars, but finding one with certain ingredients can be frustrating, especially as a vegetarian or vegan. Most varieties contain bonito, shrimp flakes, or some other dehydrated seafood, and sometimes include less desirable ingredients like MSG or anti-caking agents, and they all come with silica packets. Not to mention that the jars, which are small, cost a pretty penny in spite of the simple ingredients.
So what was I to do?
Duh, make my own.
After doing a little research, I’ve hammered out a basic formula that I liked:
- 2 parts dried nori
- 1 part dried wakame
- 1 part dried shiitake mushrooms
- 1 part sesame seeds (black, white, or both)
- sea salt, to taste (note that this stuff is meant to be really salty)
In a blender or food processor, process the wakame, shiitake, and salt until they’re a coarse powder. (This will take a while – you may need to use a spice grinder for the wakame.) Add nori in torn pieces and pulse until those are small flakes. Combine with sesame seeds in an airtight container and keep in the fridge. Sprinkle liberally on EVERYTHING. Especially rice balls filled with small dollops of miso-walnut paste.
Now, this is far from being a hard and fast recipe. You can use almost any kind of dried seaweed you’d like, including used kombu. Maybe try this with smoked or black salt – black salt might make it taste a little bit like there are dehydrated pieces of egg in there, which a lot of commercial furikake does have. Try pepper flakes for a spicy kick, or something totally different like Chinese Five Spice. Some recipes even call for a small sprinkle of sugar, but I’m all about savory when it comes to this stuff.
But basically, the moral of the story is: go nuts.
Is it ZW? No, don’t be silly. Unless you’re lucky enough to live someplace where you can get dried sea vegetables in bulk, which I doubt you are. Bags of dried sea veggies last a pretty long-ass time with occasional use, though, and can be put to many more uses than furikake alone. I usually only need to stock up on this stuff once or twice a year. (Which is good for my wallet, too.)