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.

Recipe: Sardine and pine nut furikake

This makes about 8 tablespoons. Each tablespoon is about 40-50 calories, depending on how well you get rid of the oil the sardines are packed in.

  • 2 cans (each can containing about 4 ounces / 120 g of sardines; a little more or less doesn't make a big difference) sardines packed in oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons pine nuts
  • 1 tablespoon of dry sherry or whisky or sake (optional, but the alcohol does take away a lot of the 'fishy' smell that some people don't like)
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • Lots of freshly ground black pepper
  • Pinch of dried red chili pepper flakes (leave out if you don't want it spicy)

Drain the sardines completely. Pat the oil off the fish with paper towels. If you leave too much oil on the fish, they end up tasting as they've been deep fried, which isn't exactly unpleasant but not really ideal.

Heat up a dry non-stick frying pan. Dump in the fish, and break them up with a spatula. As they cook and dry out, keep breaking them up until they form fine flakes. Add the chopped garlic about halfway through and keep stirring. Your objective is to dry out and crisp up the fish without burning it.

When the fish is fairly dry and fine, add the sherry or whisky or sake. Stir until the liquid has evaporated - this only takes a few seconds. Add the Worcestershire sauce and stir until this has also been absorbed and evaporated.

Add the pine nuts, and stir around until they are toasty brown. Add the black pepper and chili pepper.

Remove from the frying pan into a bowl (or the nuts will keep cooking and may get burned). Let cool completely before storing in an airtight container in the refrigerator. It will keep for up to a week.