furikake

Sweet pepper and carrot confetti

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I am calling this colorful dish confetti, because it’s not quite assertively flavored enough to call it furikake. It is sort of a no-sugar (low-carb) and much lower calorie variation of Cooked to Death Hot and Sweet Peppers, though I have made the hot peppers optional. Even with no added sugar or sweetener, I think the natural sweetness of the vegetables comes through nicely. It’s a really useful vegetable side dish, to just pack on the side or sprinkle on top of rice or other things. You could also fold in a spoonful into tamagoyaki to make it really colorful. It can be kept in the refrigerator for a few days, or frozen. continue reading...

Tuna soboro with ginger

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I could have sworn I had already posted a recipe for tuna soboro already, and I was all set out to call this the Much Improved version. But what do you know - I had neglected to post any recipe for this frugal bento staple at all. But no matter; this version would probably have superceded any previous versions anyway. continue reading...

Homemade Sakura Denbu - sweet, pink, fluffy fish flakes

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Sakura denbu (桜田麩) is a sweet-salty, fluffy pink flaked fish condiment - a sort of fish furikake - that is used in sushi rolls as well as to decorate various rice dishes. It’s used quite often in spring, because of its dainty appearance and cherry-blossom pink color. (Sakura means cherry blossom or tree.) You can buy it in little packets at any Japanese grocery store, but commercial sakura denbu usually has MSG and various preservatives in it. Plus, it’s rather expensive at my local Japanese grocery store. So, here’s a homemade sakura denbu recipe to use in your springtime bentos.

It’s not that difficult to make, but there are some key points to pay attention to to produce the desired fluffy texture, so I’ve included a lot of procedural photos. Make sure to choose a fairly low-fat white fish for this; a high fat fish like salmon will clump up and not produce the fine flakes that are characteristic of denbu. continue reading...

Homemade furikake no. 11: Spicy radish leaves

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This furikake may not even look like furikake, since it’s wet, but it can be used in every way dry furikake can. You can keep it in the refrigerator for a week or so, or freeze it in small batches. And since it’s using radish leaves (leftover from making radish pickles for example), it’s very frugal and nutritious too. It’s a vegan variation of the first furikake recipe I posted, and just as delicious. continue reading...

Vegan iri dofu (iri doufu) with garlic chives

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Iri dofu or iri doufu (炒り豆腐) is a simple, homely dish, real Japanese style ‘mother’s cooking’. Probably every Japanese home cook has his or her own recipe, but the base is plain tofu that is crumbled and then stirred around or gently stir fried (the iri 炒り part means that) until it resembles dry scrambled egg. In fact, it’s rather like the tofu version of iri tamago, but with more flavor and texture.

Iri dofu recipes often contain meat (usually pork), dashi or both, but here I have kept it vegan (in keeping with our vegetarian theme for May). I have added umami by including chopped dried shiitake mushrooms, miso and soy sauce. Garlic chives and ginger also add to the flavor, while the sansho pepper (also known as sichuan pepper) adds spice.

The best way to eat this is to simply pile it onto rice. Of course it’s perfect for a easy, healthy bento. continue reading...

Homemade furikake no. 10: Sardines and pine nuts

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I haven’t added a new furikake recipe in a long time. So, it’s about time I did. As I wrote in the first homemade furikake recipe article, the homemade kind has a lot of advantages over the storebought kind.

One of the advantages is cost, and this furikake uses a cheap yet healthy ingredient that’s available to most people, wherever they may live: Canned sardines! A can of about 4 ounces of sardines (120g) or so costs a couple of dollars or euros or whatever at most. And sardines are packed with good nutrients: Omega-3s, protein, calcium, etc.

I’ve attempted to stay away from Japanese ingredients with this one, since I occasonally get complaints from readers that they can’t get a hold of those ingredients. If you can’t get Worcestershire sauce for some reason, use steak sauce or a similar rich, brown sauce. If pine nuts (though this only uses 2 tablespoons) are beyond your means, use sesame seeds or chopped nuts of another kind.

This furikake is good on pasta as well as rice. continue reading...

Homemade furikake no. 6: Gomashio, sesame salt

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[Updated: Originally published back in January 2008, this is one of the most popular articles on Just Bento. I’ve updated it with a much more hands-free oven method for making gomashio.]

Gomashio (ごま塩), sesame salt, is the most basic furikake. This is the best way I know to make homemade gomashio, where each sesame seed is coated with its own fine salt mantle. continue reading...

Homemade furikake no. 9: Green tea

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We used to have a neighbor lady in Japan who came from Shizuoka, a major tea growing region. She used to say that at her parents’ house they used to eat tea leaves sprinkled with salt as a snack. At the time, the cynical kid that was me thought that sounded disgusting! But then I was recently surfing around some Japanese sites and stumbled upon the home page of a tea producer, who mentioned the same thing. They also said that they enjoyed tea as furikake.

The site didn’t have a recipe, but they mentioned putting in chirimenjako (tiny salted fish, which I used in the hijiki seaweed furikake) and sakuraebi (tiny dried shrimp), used in Furikake no. 1, radish leaves.) Both are dried or semi-dried products that are packed with umami, and are also high in calcium. You can get them at any Japanese grocery store, and very similar products are available at general Asian or Chinese stores too. In case you can’t get a hold of them though, I’ve given some variations below, including a vegan one.

The tea furikake definitely has the taste and fragrance of tea (with a hint of bitterness), enhanced by the umami of the other ingredients. It’s really very pleasant. Tea furikake is not available commercially as far as I know (at least not outside of Japan). And if drinking the extract of tea leaves is so healthy, surely eating tea leaves has to be as good, if not better! continue reading...