Homemade furikake no. 1: Radish leaves, bonito flakes and tiny shrimp

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If you’ve been exploring the aisles of a Japanese grocery store or looking at bento recipes, you’ve probably encountered furikake already. Commercial furikake usually comes in small foil packets or glass jars, in all kinds of salty flavors. Furikake is a dry or semi-dry condiment that is sprinkled on, or mixed into, rice. David Rosengarten, ex-Food Network host and gourmet food expert, declares it to be a miracle in a jar.

While the ready made furikake are convenient, they have some drawbacks. First, they can be very salty, or filled with MSG. Many contain artificial colorings and flavors too. (There are ‘gourmet’ furikakes available in Japan sometimes without additives, but I’ve never seen them outside of Japan.) MSG and additives may or may not be a problem for you, but there’s another drawback: outside of Japan furikake is very expensive.

It’s not at all hard to make your own furikake - and you can even use up bits of food that otherwise might be thrown away. This very classic furikake is a great example. It’s made traditionally with the green tops of daikon radishes (called Mouli in some areas of Europe) which are usually just cut off and discarded. I remember my mother and my aunts making this quite a lot.

I’ve found it rather hard to find a good supply of daikon leaves here in Switzerland, but I’ve discovered that regular radish leaves work just as well - they have the same kind of texture and peppery flavor. I still have tons of radishes in my garden, and their tops would otherwise go to waste. So I turn a lot of it into this furikake.

I do add two ingredients that are also rather expensive outside of Japan, but they are both very natural - bonito flakes (katsuobushi) and tiny dried shrimp (sakura ebi). Both are full of umami. You control the amount of saltiness in the furikake with how much soy sauce you add.

Any well stocked Japanese grocery store will have both ingredients. You can try other kinds of dried shrimp too, as long as they are very small - or, grind them up a bit.

Look for more homemade furikake ideas in upcoming posts!

[Edit, added:] If you read Japanese, here is a great article on About.jp (the Japanese equivalent of About.com) on why it’s a good idea to make your own furikake, especially for your kids. In a nutshell, it’s because you control exactly what goes into it!

Radish or daikon leaf, katsuobushi and sakura ebi furikake

  • A large bundle of radish or daikon radish leaves (about 1 1/2 cups after blanching) [Edit: I typed 4 cups here before for some odd reason, 1 1/2 cups is correct - sorry!]
  • About 1 cup of bonito flakes, or a large handful (you can use the powdery bits left at the bottom of the bag)
  • About 1/2 cup sakura ebi shrimp
  • Soy sauce to taste

Wash and pick over the leaves carefully, discarding any discolored bits. Blanch the leaves in a pot of boiling water, until they are limp but still bright green. Drain the leaves and refresh them by running cold water over them. Squeeze out as much moisture as you can, and chop up very finely.

Heat up a large non-stick frying pan. Put in the chopped leaves and stir around until the leaves have dried out a bit (this method of dry stir-frying so to speak is called kara iri). Add the bonito flakes and the shrimp. Add about 1-2 tablespoons of soy sauce, and stir until the mixture is a bit dry. Taste, and add more soy sauce if needed.

This keeps well in the refrigerator for about a week, or you can freeze it. Sprinkle on top of rice, mix into rice and make onigiri, and whatever else strikes your fancy.

Variations: add some sesame seeds, red pepper flakes, etc.

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I’ll definitely try making

I’ll definitely try making my own — thanks for the recipe.

But there’s an upside to buying furikake in glass jars: They can be re-used as drink glasses (just like One-Cup Ozeki jars). And it so happens that the rate at which we eat furikake and the rate at which my spousal equivalent breaks glasses is about the same. No need to drink One-Cup Ozeki in order to keep glassware in stock!

That reminds me...

…we used to collect glass jars that had different (and cute) Pingu prints on them. Too bad that they had mustard in them! It wasn’t that easy to get through so much mustard…

Thanks

This sounds great, and I look forward to more like it. I can get dried shrimp and sesame seeds for cheap at the Mexican markets, and grow my own radishes. I think I’ll have to make a special trip for the bonito.

without bonito

You can try it without the bonito flakes, and add more shrimp. It should taste great!

Thanks!

I have allergies to a lot of additives, and also shellfish, so while I like the idea of furikake to add some flavor to brown rice, I’ve never been brave enough to even look for the commercial stuff. Having recipes so I can make it myself and leave out anything that’s a problem for me is fantastic, particularly since I’ve recently been considering getting a small bento for taking mini-meal snacks for long library sessions. (I’m in college, but don’t live on campus, so when I go I like to stay for a while. :) )

A bowl of brown rice with some interesting furikake sounds like it’ll be an excellent mid-study snack. :)

Re: Homemade furikake no. 1: Radish leaves, bonito flakes ...

Hi Maki,
I would love to make this furikake. Can we omit the shrimps? Thanks.

Re: Homemade furikake no. 1: Radish leaves, bonito flakes ...

Thank you! This sounds awesome! I'm gonna make this for sure!

Re: Homemade furikake no. 1: Radish leaves, bonito flakes ...

Hi, have you ever tried nasturtium leaves instead of daikon or radish leaves? They have the same peppery taste and they grow prolifically, spreading everywhere if you're not careful. But they are such a delightful flower that I don't mind that. They act as a ground cover and keep the weeds away. Also, the seeds can be pickled and taste very similar to capers, though they are bigger than capers. And of course the flowers can be used (and eaten) as a garnish for any meal, especially salads. Here is a link to a picture of nasturtium leaves and flowers. They come in shades of yellow, orange and red. http://www.biodiversityexplorer.org/plants/tropaeolaceae/tropaeolum_maju...

Lorna
New Zealand

nasturtium leaves

I did try nasturtium leaves when I had them in my garden (which was like 3 years ago...was too busy to have a garden last year, and this year I've been a nomad!) I liked them in salads (the flowers really perk up a green salad), but when I tried blanching the leaves they had a rather slimy texture, which was a bit offputting. But when I get a garden again I will grow them again for sure, since they are so cheery and are supposed to be great companion plants in a vegetable garden.

Dashi ingredients

I have made dashi only once using konbu and bonito flakes. It says in the recipe to keep the konbu and flakes for secondary dashi. What I would like to know is how long can you keep them before you throw away?

Re: Dashi ingredients

I freeze the dashi ingredients and use it up within a month.

Re: Homemade furikake no. 1: Radish leaves, bonito flakes ...

Where in Europe is daikon referred to as mouli, I'm curious? Mouli or mooli is how it is referred to in Hindi, and I wonder if it is the Indian word that is being used, as it would be in UK due to the large south Asian population.
Also, how do you keep the shoyu from burning as you dry out the furikake?

Re: Homemade furikake no. 1: Radish leaves, bonito flakes ...

hm, as far as i know, european languages use words derived from latin "radix": radis, radish, rettich/radieschen, rättika, ridikas and so on.
to me, a "mouli" is a cooking utensil for making puree in french!

if the shoyu got burned, your frying pan was too hot. when i make furikake, i turn off the stove as soon as the main ingredients are dry. if you use a heavy pan, the remaining heat will be enough to dry up the shoyu..

... stems?

Hello!
I was wondering if you use the stems of the leaves in your furikake and how that (might) effects the flavor?

Re: ... stems?

Hi Stephanie. If the stems are thin, I just use them along with the leaves. If they are thick and woody (e.g. if you grow your own radishes and they get a bit too big) then I just cut off the leaves and use them. It's more of a matter of their texture than the taste though.

Re: Homemade furikake no. 1: Radish leaves, bonito flakes ...

NO JOKE, Maki. I would EASILY pay you to send me some of these furikake. I have no desire whatsoever to make them on my own, but the flavors would be perfect for my girls' lunches. The MSG in the store-bought kinds is off-putting. I'd love to find those cute individual character packets without MSG, but I'm guessing they don't exist?
The next best thing--YOU do all the work and I buy it :D Whatdya say? :)

Re: Homemade furikake no. 1: Radish leaves, bonito flakes ...

I know it's a while since my first post last year about using nasturtium leaves, but I forgot I had contributed. Just found it again, so would like to ask is it really necessary to blanch the leaves? Can they simply be rinsed in cold water, patted dry and then very carefully dried between two paper towels in a microwave on, say 20 or 30% power? I would do them in 30 second bursts, watching carefully for them drying to a crisp without burning. Towards the end, it would be necessary to continue in shorter bursts. They could be finished off for a day or two in your hot-water cupboard, if you have one. I dry my herbs this way when they are prolific in the garden. Covers the time when they are a lot scarcer or non-existent in winter.

Lorna
New Zealand

Re: Homemade furikake no. 1: Radish leaves, bonito flakes ...

This furikake is a bit moist, not bone-dry and dessicated, so I don't think leaves that are microwave-dried would work.

Alternatives?

This looks really nice. Usually, we just buy furikake from the store, but I think I'd really like to try this instead.
I was wondering if you knew of any alternatives to dried shrimp? The fiance is allergic to all things shellfish and I'd hate to have him go into cardiac arrest over my cooking :p

Re: Alternatives?

If you are allergic to shrimp, either leave it out or try one of the other furikake recipes on this site.

Re: Homemade furikake no. 1: Radish leaves, bonito flakes ...

I made my first trip to an asian grocery store yesterday, but oddly enough, when I got to the daikon, the leaves were pre-cut off. Oh well...

Re: Homemade furikake no. 1: Radish leaves, bonito flakes ...

Question about bonito flakes:

Am I correct in assuming that these are dry and crispy (like corn flakes)? Because the only bonito I can find in the local supermarket is in a can (like sardines).

Re: Homemade furikake no. 1: Radish leaves, bonito flakes ...

They are dry, although not as crispy at cornflakes. They look a bit like thin wood shavings and have a similar texture. There is canned bonito, but that's a different thing, rather like canned tuna or salmon.

Re: Homemade furikake no. 1: Radish leaves, bonito flakes ...

Is there any good substitute for those recipes that use bonito flakes (like dashi recipes)? Because there aren't any Asian supermarkets in my area, and the "International Foods" aisle has very little that's helpful (aji-mirin instead of hon-mirin I can handle, but nori is their only seaweed and you have to really dig to find any short-grain rice).

Re: Homemade furikake no. 1: Radish leaves, bonito flakes ...

Darn, I was hoping there was a way to make the flakes out of the canned stuff. Looks like if I want bonito furikake here in the southeastern US, I'll have to order the pre-made kind. I was hoping I could try it without the expense or the chemicals.

Re: Homemade furikake no. 1: Radish leaves, bonito flakes ...

You can try ordering bonito flakes online - e.g. from Amazon http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B000UWE0AO/ref=nosim/wwwmakikoito... 3+ ounces doesn't sound like a lot, but it lasts for a long time if you keep it in a sealed bag. Alternatively you could use canned tuna...but that would require adjusting the recipe. I'll try to work on that soon. ^_^

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