Furikake ふりかけ is Japan’s answer to zaatar or dukkah. Whereas those middle eastern condiments are mainly associated with bread, furikake is associated with, you’ve guessed it, rice. Although some types of furikake are delicious on salads or vegetables, you’ll most often come across this savoury mixture on top of a bowl of steaming rice, or in onigiri.
The flavourings vary with ingredients such as bonito (a type of fish shavings), nori, sesame seeds, dried egg, salmon or chicken, wasabi being the most common. My favourite pre-made packet includes shiso, a Japanese herb related to basil, and umeboshi, pickled “plums”.
It’s easy to use furikake. The meaning of the name in Japanese alludes to the fact that you simply “sprinkle” as much as you want on top of your rice in the bowl. Be mindful that it is quite salty stuff, so a little goes a long way. Also, certain flavours have small, hard pieces (like dried umeboshi or salmon) that need to be mixed in and left to sit for a minute or two to soften. When using mixed into rice, either for serving in a bowl or when making onigiri, put the furikake in the rice after it is cooked, not before.
Look for packets in Asian supermarkets or Japanese shops such as Japan Mart in Newmarket. The Japanese-run shops tend to provide an English translation of each product, which is helpful when you’ve got no idea what flavour is what from the pictures on the packets! The staff are usually friendly and will answer any questions as best they can.