Furikake seasoning is a versatile Japanese seasoning that is traditionally used as a topping for rice and noodles. While its use was once limited to Japan, Westerners have begun to adopt it more and more in their cooking. Even so, you may not be able to find furikake seasoning in your local grocery store. To get a similar umami flavor in your food, try one of the following furikake seasoning substitutes.
Table of Contents
- Your best bet: Homemade furikake seasoning
- A decent second choice: Shichimi togarashi
- In a pinch: Nanami togarashi
- Other alternatives
- Must-read related posts
Your best bet: Homemade furikake seasoning
The ingredients in furikake seasoning are often chosen to suit the taste preferences of the cook. For example, some people dislike the fishy aspect of the bonito flake flavor and prefer a furikake seasoning blend that omits it.
In any case, the blend’s constituents are not set in stone, so you should adapt it to your preferences. Many of the ingredients are easy to find, even in western grocery stores. This makes furikake seasoning relatively easy to make. The components on which you should focus include nori seaweed, sesame seeds, and salt. You should try to get coarse sea salt if you can. You may also want to add some sugar, which helps to bring out some of the savory qualities.
A decent second choice: Shichimi togarashi
The word togarashi is Japanese for red chili peppers. Shichimi togarashi translates to “seven-flavor chili pepper”. Shichimi togarashi is also called Japanese seven spice powder, which can give the impression that the spice blend is somehow similar to Chinese five-spice powder. It is nothing like the famous Chinese spice blend.
Shichimi togarashi is used in a similar manner to furikake seasoning in that it is a popular topping for rice as well as noodles and vegetables. The ingredients include sansho powder, which is ground sansho pepper. Most blends will also contain certain ingredients used in furikake seasoning like nori and sesame seeds, which means that it can have a very similar flavor profile. Like other traditional spice blends, there are variations and some of them may be more like furikake seasoning than others. As with furikake, you can make your own shichimi togarashi or purchase a pre-mixed blend.
In addition to the traditional uses, it can also be used as a dry rub for grilled or roasted meats. Use shichimi togarashi as a 1:1 substitute for furikake seasoning.
In a pinch: Nanami togarashi
Nanami togarashi is a similar spice blend to shichimi togarashi. Both contain largely the same ingredients with the main difference being that nanami togarashi contains citrus peel. Despite the fact that the citrus peel it contains is not an ingredient in traditional furikake blends, nanami togarashi still has a similar enough flavor profile to be a good substitute. It contains the sesame seed, nori, and chili pepper flake components that provide furikake seasoning’s distinctive umami and spicy aspects.
Like shichimi togarashi, nanami togarashi is traditionally used as a topping for noodles, fish, and vegetables; however, it can be used as a dry rub for barbecue meats as well.
If you can only find a couple of the ingredients in furikake, you may still be able to get much of the flavor profile that you want from the full spice blend. Nori and sesame seeds provide the crunch and the umami note that you want from your furikake seasoning. Alternatively, you may be able to try nori and dried chili flakes or nori in combination with bonito flakes or salmon roe.