This homemade furikake recipe with Southeast Asian flavours makes the umami-rich Japanese rice seasoning with a tropical Southeast Asian twist. Traditional furikake ingredients such as white and black sesame seeds and toasted nori are combined with dried Southeast Asian spices and herb powders. It’s completely addictive.
I appreciate that my homemade furikake recipe with Southeast Asian flavours might seem strange to Japanese food lovers, while our regular readers are probably wondering what all these Asian fusion experiments are about. What are we doing concocting Southeast Asian fusion takes on everything from Italian pesto to Mexican grilled corn salad?
Especially after we’ve spent so many years trying to cook the best renditions of ‘authentic’ recipes in the Southeast Asian countries in which we’ve lived and travelled – particularly here in Cambodia, where we’ve spent seven years researching Cambodia’s long, rich culinary history and developing an epic, first-of-its-kind, straight-from-the-source Cambodian cookbook and culinary history research project.
I’m going to deal with the first issue in this post and the second in the next post. If you don’t know what furikake is, don’t worry. I’d been eating Japanese food for the best part of thirty years before I ‘discovered’ it (rather, Terence bought it and began using it) and then it was a revelation. I became addicted to the stuff. Seriously, Terence would have to hide it as it certainly wasn’t cheap here in Siem Reap.
I could eat furikake by the spoonful right out of the stupidly expensive little plastic container, but instead I frugally sprinkled a little across a bowl of steamed rice and was completely satisfied by the umami flavours and wonderful textures, and I would close my eyes and dream of being back in Tokyo.
But then I got the idea of creating a furikake recipe with Southeast Asian flavours so that it wasn’t so expensive and it might have more applications… I imagined being able to sprinkle it upon salads and soups and barbecued skewers. But instead, like the original Japanese furikake I find myself doing little else with it but sprinkling it across a bowl of steamed rice. And that’s enough to satisfy me. It’s that good.
Homemade Furikake Recipe With Southeast Asian Flavours to Spice Up Your Rice
If you don’t have a pantry filled with Asian essentials, look for these ingredients at your nearest Asian market or supermarket or specialist Asian grocery store or order them online. Black and white sesame seeds can usually be found at any supermarket, not necessarily an Asian specialist.
Look for the sheets of nori (dried seaweed) in the Japanese section of your supermarket and while you’re there, take a look for toasted nori snacks, which are short, thin, slightly-crispy strips of nori, which will also work with this.
If you get the sheets, you can fold them in half and half again a few times and then using a pair of scissors (easiest) cut them into small narrow strips of about one centimetre in length. If you prefer the uneven look, you can always tear pieces apart and crumble them in the palm of your hand.
Or, if you’re like us and you have a few mortars and pestles sitting around, then you can fold the nori sheets up and pound them into small pieces. Just don’t pound them too much, as you don’t want nori powder! You have enough powder in your mix. What you want is the texture as much as the umami.
Of the dried spices I’ve included, ginger powder should be easy to find, tamarind powder might be a little trickier, and lemongrass powder could be hard to source. Look for tamarind powder in the Indian section at your supermarket or Asian mart.
While tamarind is used throughout Southeast Asia, especially here in Cambodia – we had towering tamarind trees in the gardens at our last apartment complex here in Siem Reap – tamarind is typically used is the form of a juice made from tamarind pulp that’s added to curries and samlors (stews and soups). The dried tamarind powder I buy is a product of Thailand.
Lemongrass powder might be harder to source. We buy our lemongrass powder at a local Siem Reap market. I’ve never seen a commercial product sold in the supermarkets here in Cambodia.
However, you can make your own lemongrass powder, but like any dried spices, you need to be prepared to do a fair bit of pounding. First, you need to dry out your sticks of lemongrass. Lay them out on a stainless steel oven tray and leave them in the sun until they’re dry and brittle. Then, chop them as finely as you can get them, and get out that mortar and pestle and pound a way.
You shouldn’t have any trouble finding crispy fried garlic and crispy fried shallots at your Asian market. These are used throughout Southeast Asia and China, so depending upon where you live, they could be in the Thai food section, or Vietnamese, or Chinese… or, you can make your own.
Once you’ve got all your ingredients, it’s really just a matter of combining them all in a bowl. Then, using a funnel, pour your Southeast Asian furikake into an air-tight glass jar or plastic container and store it in a cool dry cupboard. It should keep well for 3-6 months.
Leave your furikake longer than that and it may taste stale, especially if the dried herbs and spice powders you used weren’t the freshest to begin with. To wake up your furikake, lay it all out on a stainless steel oven tray and heat it up for a minute or three on medium heat. All ovens are different, obviously, so stay close by. Once you smell the aromas, quickly pull the tray out.
You can also revive your Southeast Asian furikake by quickly ‘toasting’ the mix in a skillet. Again, it won’t take long, so you need to watch the pan, shake it a few times, and remove it from the heat as soon as you smell those wonderful fragrances, then quickly put them to use.
Furikake Recipe With Southeast Asian Flavours
- ¼ cup white sesame seeds
- ¼ cup black sesame seeds
- 2 sheets toasted nori cut into 1cm-long strips
- 4 tsp lemongrass powder
- 2 tsp tamarind powder
- 1 tsp ginger powder
- 3 tsp crispy fried garlic
- 3 tsp crispy fried shallots
- ½ tsp red chilli flakes or to taste/optional
- ½ tsp salt or to taste
- If you can’t find toasted nori strips, fold the nori sheets a few times then cut them into thin strips 1cm in length or break them up into small pieces in a mortar and pestle, then pop them into a bowl.
- Lightly pound the sesame seeds just a couple of times in the mortar, just enough to release the flavour, then add them to the bowl.
- Add all the remaining ingredients to the bowl, except the chilli flakes and salt.
- Add half of the recommended amount of chilli flakes and salt, taste, and then if you wish add the rest. You can always add more – or you can skip the chilli if you’re not a fan.
- Combine well and store in a glass jar or air-tight container for 3-6 months.
- If your furikake tastes stale during that time, spread it out onto a pan and pop it into the oven for a minute to wake up the flavours.
Do let us know if you make our homemade furikake recipe with Southeast Asian flavours as we’d love to know how it turns out for you.