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Furikake Frenzy!

Growing up in Hawaii usually means that as a child, you automatically become a furikake addict. At some point in many Hawaii parents’s early years, the desperate attempts to get children to eat their food lead to the various bottles of salty Asian sprinkles. Suddenly, the “yuck!” rice in the bowl becomes magically delicious. No seriously, the heck with Lucky Charms. Furikake rice? That is magically delicious. Teriyaki meat with some Aji Norior Nori Komion it becomes a fascinatingly “Mmm!” food. With a sigh of relief, Mom and Dad look at the little glass bottle in wonder that such a simple thing can ease so much stress from the dinner table.

Then a couple years down the line, when your children enter the “independent” phase, trouble emerges. Suddenly, they MUST apply their own and must do so with a vengeance. The phrase “too much furikake” begins to incite tantrums. Eventually you resign yourself to the fact that dinner without furikake is dinner without peace and quiet. This goes on for years. The result is a collective conscience of furikake lovers. We all know the lust for the stuff. We scoop rice from the rice cooker and immediately say, “Where’s the furikake?” When the bottle is almost gone, another one must be there to take its place.

Or else.

My own children have fallen victim to this furikake craze. We have had to scoop out half a bottle of furikake from a bowl of food when an overly excited toddler gets ahold of the bottle and decides to self serve. As you can see from the girl pictured above, she’s half crazed simply by applying furikake to her bento. Take those bottles away from her and she’ll surely eat your soul.

Rules for this drawing and details for entering are now available on the forums. I have two prizes to offer which include this cute Anpanman furikake jar:

His head pops off to reveal a little jar. A separate package of furikake comes with him. The one pictured above is mine. The actual prize is still unopened. The other prize is a package of 20 furikake packets. There are various flavors in this one and it’s a great way to take some furikake with your bento without needing a little jar.

I’ve used this one myself for the kids, very yummy flavors! I should note though, I think one flavor is wasabi, so it’s hot! Last night I went to Don Quijote in town to find these and while I was there I happened to see the nori next to the furikake section. When I was a kid, Jichan and Grandma used to go to Japan once in a while. When they came back, my parents would take us to their house and they’d give us omiyaage (gifts brought back from their trip). I’m sure they must have given us other things, but the only thing I ever remember getting from them was a bag of shredded nori.

A bag of shredded nori may not sound all that fabulous, but to me and my brother, this stuff was like black gold. Nori from Japan is astonishingly better than the Yama Moto Yama stuff you buy at Cost-U-Less or Longs. I remember once my Uncle Les said to me, “I always buy nori, but it’s never as good as the stuff Jichan and Grandma bring back…” So true.

I’ve got pictures of me as a kid in a high chair with pieces of nori all over my face. We’d take the bag home and my parents would give us a little bit on a bowl of rice. When we were older we were able to take from the bag ourselves, going back constantly for “just a little bit more.” Eventually someone would yell from the kitchen, “WHO ATE ALL THE NORI?” You just had to hope it wasn’t you.

Anyway, it was only a couple of years ago that I discovered that this stuff is actually called “momi nori.” Yama Moto Yama makes a teriyaki version that’s pretty good. In fact, I have a bag at work that I snack on. Last night in Don Quijote I intended to buy more bags for the kids to eat when I saw it.

It looked familiar. Or similar. Whatever, it looked like the stuff from small kid time. I bought two bags. As soon as I got to the car I ripped one open and ate some. *gasp* The old stuff of my dreams. Can it really be true? It sure tastes like it. The bag in the photo had a lot more, but I was stuffing my face with the stuff last night while watching LOST. I must tell my brother immediately so that he may share in the wonder. Eventually my grandparents stopped going to Japan and Jichan would instead go to Waterfall and bring back salmon. That’s a whole ‘nother yummy story, but I had almost forgotten the taste of that wonderfully crispy black gold, slowly making its way back to us in Grandma’s suitcase. And now, thanks to Don Quijote, I never will.

Now, go get frenzied with your furikake!!!

Many thanks to Wyn for drawing the image in the banner!

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  • People always ask me how I get my kids to eat their spinach, etc…I drip on a little soy sauce. Same theory–just add a bit of saltiness and the food disappears–seems like a no-brainer to me!

  • librarychair

    Veganf, you forget that the popular belief is that salt and fat are EVILE and will make your children get fat and have heart attacks within a week if you let them have more than two shakes a day. Nevermind that a lot of the widely praised vitamins and minerals can’t be absorbed in the absence of fat…

  • Jessie

    OMG, does that nori really taste like the one Jichan and Grandma used to bring back from Japan??? I LOVE THAT STUFF!!!!! Thats the only thing I remember them bringing back too.. How funny is that?? I must go to Don Quiote NOW and go buy some šŸ™‚ Unless you or Nick went back and bought it all already! haha

  • @veganf I’m a shoyu freak too. I eat it on everything. Corned beef cabbage, plain rice in Portuguese Sausage Eggs and Rice, everything can taste bettah with shoyu!!! (or furikake)

    @Jessie YES IT DOES! It’s thick, exceptionally crispy, and VERY tasty. It was about $3.39 per bag. OM NOM NOM!

  • Lenneth

    I was reading this and having fits of giggles…this was a fun read. šŸ™‚

    I’ve never used furikake before, don’t really have a place to get it. I have lots of stencils, though. šŸ™

  • Quite an enjoyable read. I want to try some Furikake now…

    alas, I haven’t the slightest idea if there is a place I might buy it locally. Probably… but where?

  • Too funny, I just bought a bag of that same nori last week at Don Quijote!! We all love it. The kids can eat it by the hand full. Love the graphics.

  • vil

    I LOVE your blog! If you ever come to Anchorage, Alaska be sure to visit New Sagaya’s located off Old Seward Highway across from Natural Pantry. It’s my favorite store besides Lucky Market. I’m a foodie and Anchorage is the perfect place to be so since there’s a wide variety of restaurants such as Nepalese, Filipino, Vietnamese, Indian, a lot of Thai and Japanese restaurants, Chinese, Korean-argh I must stop because I’m sooo hungry right now. If you do come summer is the best, between June and August.

  • I tried to use some furikake – 1st effort not too successful.

    I still have some here. Is there hope I can acquire a taste for it?

  • Molly

    Eilismaura, you might have purchased some furikake with some crazy stuff you aren’t familiar with like wasabi bits. Try to find a simple furikake with only seaweed, salt, and sesame seeds, that might be more to your taste. Or if your furikake tastes fishy, then that means it’s old and you should throw it out.

    Sorry, Pikko, is it bad form to answer questions on someone else’s blog? If so, please feel free to delete my post.

  • It certainly isn’t in my opinion, Molly! šŸ˜€ It’s nice to see someone helpful commenting.

    I agree, you probably picked a not so great one. I mean, if someone chose Ochazuke Wakame for their first furikake I’d understand if they never ate it again.

  • Brother

    OMGOMGOMG! Black Gold is correct! When we used to see that bag after our grandparents came back, my eyelids would peel to the back of my head in excitement.

    Oh snap! Time to head down to Don Quiote. Better get there before I do Jessie or there might not be any left =P.

  • Well as the Irish would say – far from furikake I was raised!!

    I know some areas of Ireland (like Co. Kerry) do make use of dulse and carrageen moss but my only exposure was the recommendation to take some of the dried stuff as ‘the cure’ after a wild wedding we attended.

    I have several small packets here – and no way to know what is good, bad or indifferent, like two in front of me – one with an old ship and the other has two fish on it.

  • So funny! You had me laughing. I can so relate. I’m caucasian married to a Japanese man. When I was first introduced to furikake in my 20’s in Japan, I loved it! Now it is a staple in our home. With a 10 year old in the house, the words “too much furikake!” and “the nori’s gone ALREADY!”(We KNOW who ate it!) are often employed! And the nori that kiddo’s Ojichan brought back from a trip(to share with the whole family-not just us) was the best I’ve ever had! I don’t remember what kind or where it was from but kiddo and I were equally guilty of eating it up. I don’t think we’ve ever eaten ANYTHING up so fast and with so much enthusiasm! I was a little embarrased!

  • LOL the comments are amusing me greatly. Eilismaura, I think if you had a good furikake, you’d just like it as soon as you tasted it. There are some terrible ones and some that I can’t imagine anyone wouldn’t like.

  • Jenn W

    OMG, I can’t believe you found something like the Japan nori! I loved that stuff! I will have to see if I can find that brand at Marukai here in LA.

    Also, maybe it was because I grew up with hapa rice but plain old white rice was such a treat for me and Elizabeth that we rarely messed with furikake. I remember once going to a Japanese restaurant and eating 4 bowls of white rice. Jichan asked me in all seriousness if my mother didn’t feed me enough. HA!

  • Aunty C

    LOL! When Jessie called to tell me they were heading to Don Quijote to buy the nori you’d mentioned, I told her she’d better buy a bag for me and mail it to me! The store must be wondering why there’s a sudden run on this particular item. Hope Jessie and Nick left some for other people to enjoy.

  • 2popoki

    We have a stash of that stuff in our freezer that we received as omiyage. =) My mom ALWAYS serves it on oyako donburi. YUMMY! she also brought it out when we had cold tofu. you can put your own toppings. besides shoyu, we’d put the shredded nori, and katsuobushi. i am drooling already.

  • hmm – guess it is gird the loins time again

    I opened one of the small packets I have and took a small taste – not horrible – so will try it on rice next time

    I will gather up what I have accumulated – try them (one of them will be ‘again’) and see how it goes.

    So far bento and Japanese type foods have been good to me – so I will keep testing the waters!

  • Claire

    This is a very exciting contest for me, ’cause I see the delicious bottles of “bento sprinkles” and I want to play more with them, but I’m a n00b and scared of flavors taht will kill my palate. Can someone post some of what the basic flavors are comparable to? The ingredient lists on furikake seem so basic (3-4 ingredients!) that I have no way of knowing what I’m getting.

    Right now I only have one (Yasai Fumi Furikake) and I really like it, but I was playing it safe. It has lots of dried up veggies in it, and they taste salty and refreshing on my rice.

    Any “easing in” flavors people would suggest, to a girl taht doesn’t speak japanese?

  • I’m interested in making my own furikake. Since I keep kosher, I can’t just go out and buy a bottle, because it may not be kosher. Does anyone know recipes to make my own? I can get spices, herbs, and soy sauce, but most of the Japanese ingredients don’t come kosher-certified.

  • Check the forum thread, there were people posting in there that made their own. See what their recipes were!