Japanese Condiment: Furikake

Furikake is a condiment for sprinkling on rice in Japan. Conventional furikake is of mediocre quality however once in a while you come across some that is gourmet.

Sea of Japan Heshiko Furikake へしこ ふりかけ
Heshiko is a specialty of the Sea of Japan side of Japan, the other side of the island from Kyoto. It is a preserved dish made of fish, usually mackerel or sardine. It is preserved in salted rice bran for at least a year. It is usually very salty and goes well with beer or sake.

I recently made blog friends with a blogger who is the okami-san, or proprietress, of a nice ryokan inn and restaurant in Fukui prefecture, on the Sea of Japan. They make handmade furikake from their local meibutsu (famous product), heshiko.

I ordered several bags and they arrived this morning. I opened on up and had a sniffy-sniff, and wow, it was high powered stuff! My first reaction was ‘Sea of Japan!’, their culinary culture is really different from Kyoto. It is still pretty close to Kyoto, so we have quite a bit of heshiko in Kyoto. This is preserved, not fermented fish, but it is pungent, but not in an overly challenging way. I think that most Western folks, especially foodies could handle this.

I decided to cook up some rice for lunch. To go with gourmet furikake, I knew that it had to be excellent rice cooked in the donabe earthenware pot, which tastes better than made in an electric rice cooker.

The main ingredients are: mackerel heshiko powder, daikon radish leaf powder, sesame seed, katsuo powder, shiitake powder and ichimi chili powder.

Heshiko Furikake
Sea of Japan Heshiko Furikake へしこ ふりかけ

Iwashi Heshiko
Sea of Japan Heshiko Furikake へしこ ふりかけ
This is what heshiko looks like when you buy it. This is sardine heshiko. To prepare heshiko, you simply wash the rice bran-salt mixture off and saute it in a bit of oil. It is very salty and pungent, so a little goes a long way. It can be put on plain rice or used as the flavoring for ochazuke. It is also a favorite tsumami (hors d’oeuvres) for drinkers.

Furikake on Rice Cooked in Donabe
Sea of Japan Heshiko Furikake へしこ ふりかけ

Furikake on Rice Cooked in Donabe – detail
Sea of Japan Heshiko Furikake へしこ ふりかけ

9 Responses to “Japanese Condiment: Furikake”

  1. jeff says:

    Wonderful, I wonder how we can order some of these. Love to try it on some omusubi.
    Been watching the wonderful Jddrama Osen and really appreciating the old culinary styles of Japan.
    Keep up the posts and we hope someday to come see and experience the charm of Kyoto.

  2. Michelle says:

    Heshiko Furikake on rice looks yummy! Would we be able to order these from them? Do they have an online website?

  3. Sanada says:

    Wow! This is really my hometown’s ‘meibutsu’ in Echizen, Fukui. Uotome is almost my nextdoor. From Minnesota, I see the world is actually small. Try, mackerel hishiko too. Raw cut or grill both work. Internet shop ‘Rakuten’ ships to America (link below). I must order ton of them.

    http://esearch.rakuten.co.jp/rms/sd/esearch/vc?ev=14&sitem=%A4%D8%A4%B7%A4%B3

    Now I want to go back to Japan again (I was there only 2 weeks ago).

  4. Peko Peko says:

    Hello Everyone,

    I asked Uotome in Fukui which makes this excellent furikake and as it has no preservatives in it, it requires refrigeration. In Japan, it comes by ‘Cool Delivery’, so unfortunately it is not possible to sent this product abroad.

    The Okami-san of the restaurant and ryokan said that when you visit Japan to people come to Uotome and try some. You can order it in Japan from this Japanese language webpage.
    http://www.uotome.com/order/index.htm

  5. Paul Hays says:

    Peko,
    Once again you have kept me grounded in the moment here in Japan. Thanks.
    I think one of the differences you mention between ordinary henshiko furikake and the gourmet version is the difference in the preservation styles. The ordinary stuff is just dried and salted, but this has the “live” preservation which makes it hard to it send long distances. Once again, the idea of going local with our food is opening us to the possibilities of really gourmet treats.

  6. Peko Peko says:

    Hey Paul, Wow, thank you! And, I hope that we begin to see more and more of these things produced locally, abroad. I would love to see a first class heshiko or furikake maker in the US. As I have said before, a lot of these things are made with small fish that we don’t even eat where I come from. Eating these small fish means eating much lower on the food chain, and there are very tasty ways to prepare these things.

  7. modernist says:

    I definitely need to try this out…

  8. Foodfreak says:

    Sounds awesome. I’d love an international mail order source for furikake, especially für MSG-free varierties, all we can get over here are MSG-laden – and this looks delicious.

  9. Sandy says:

    Man, I’d love to try some of this. Just the fact that is has no nasty sugar in it makes it a treat. All the furikake you can find over here, even in large Asian markets, have a TON of sugar in it. I want savory…not sweet…and this looks like it would be perfect. So jealous.

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