You may never have heard of furikake- but there’s a good chance that one taste will convert you!
Furikake, aka perilla spice blend, is a Japanese dry spice blend that is best known as a topping for rice. It comes in a variety of flavours, and often includes ingredients like dried fish, nori (seaweed), salt, sugar, herbs & dried egg. And while it’s a spice blend, it’s not necessarily spicy; it’s more a flavouring, rather than an ingredient that adds heat to a meal.
Here I’ve made a vegan version, mostly because I wanted to feature the shiso (the Japanese name for perilla) I grew in my own garden. Shiso is a truly unique herb; its taste and smell are near-impossible to describe, while being quite different from each other. Naturally, fresh ingredients makes it organic, additive-free, and a little more potent- all of which I love. Depending on where you live, furikake may not be readily available in stores (nor may it be cheap), so it makes even more sense to make your own.
A jar of vegan furikake will last just as long as any other dried spice or spice blend- pop it into a clean glass jar, label it, & store it in your pantry.
How to Use Furikake
In addition to rice and onigiri, furikake is a great all-around seasoning, and can be added to a variety of dishes. Sprinkled on or mixed in, furikake is more versatile than you might first think.
Add texture and nutrition to a meatloaf, rissoles or hamburgers, or mix through a salad for crunch and visual interest. Grilled meats and fish suit a furikake crust or topping, as do vegetables, tofu and eggs. Stir into a mayonnaise or creamy sauce (e.g. for pasta), or even 2 minute noodles.
Here’s How to Make It
Go out to the garden and harvest your shiso. I clearly have plenty, so I carefully picked a large bowl of leaves, avoiding the stems as much as possible.
Arrange the leaves on dehydrator trays and stack them up. Spread them as evenly as possible so that they all become fully dried at the same time.
Use as many trays as you need then place the lid on. I set my temperature to 55 degrees and left the dehydrator on for approximately 4 hours. If you don’t have a dehydrator, your oven will work just as well. All you need to do is lay the leaves out on a baking tray (or two), put them in the oven, then put it on the lowest possible temperature setting. If the temperature gets too hot, you can open the door a tiny bit to lessen the heat.
Once dried, your shiso will look like the above. It should feel crispy, like a potato chip, and crumble easily.
Break up the leaves by crushing them then rubbing them between your hands. Do this until you achieve the consistency you want. Remember this is a spice blend, so you’ll want it quite small. If you have a spice grinder, even better- use that instead.
Dry-fry the sesame seeds in a small non-stick saucepan until lightly golden. Meanwhile, cut the nori into small pieces.
Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl, then your furikake is ready. Store it in a clean/sterilised glass jar in the pantry.
- 1 dehydrator or oven
- 1 small non-stick frying pan
- 1 mixing bowl
- sterilised jar/s, for storage
- 1 cup dried perilla leaves
- 1/2 cup dried nori
- 1/3 cup white sesame seeds
- 1/3 cup black sesame seeds
- 1/2 tsp salt optional
- dried chilli optional, to taste
- Harvest then dry perilla leaves thoroughly, using an oven or dehydrator. Set to around 50-60C for 3-4 hours.
- Dry-fry the sesame seeds. Set aside.
- Cut the nori into very small pieces with kitchen scissors. Alternatively, you can pulse the nori in a spice grinder, if you have one.
- Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix well.
- Decant the furikake into sterilised glass jars, label and store.