Furikake, an age-old beloved spice from Japan, is only just now making a name for itself in the US food scene. Food Republic describes furikake as a rice seasoning designed to target the umami taste palate. Umami is defined by The Umami Information Center, as a mix of the other four basic flavors - sweet, sour, salty, and bitter - to create a taste that most would refer to as savory. According to The New Yorker, this savory flavor we all love is found in other products high in glutamate, because it’s actually the glutamate that gives the umami taste. This flavor is treated as a signal to the body that we consumed protein, since it is largely found in foods that have been aged or fermented such as meat, fish, and cheese - all rich protein sources. If you’re thinking this sounds delicious, you’re on par with the founders of umami, who named it such due to the colloquial use of “umai” to mean delicious. It is also thought that furikake was developed by a pharmacist to address the calcium deficit in the Japanese population! The ground fish bones - now usually replaced by dried bonito flakes - are a nutritious and delicious way to add calcium to one's diet.
Understanding what furikake is, is only the first part though, how it is used is seemingly endless. The San Francisco Chronicle likens it to many other seasoning salts in that it can be put on everything. From salads to rice to meat and soups, everything is made better and more savory with a little furikake!
Here at Trashfish, our favorite way to eat furikake is with our sustainably caught rock crab from San Diego. Rock crabs have a year long fishery in California, meaning they’re incredibly abundant. Since they aren’t as popular as dungeness when it comes to Pacific crabs, they are available in great amounts. At Trashfish, we like to relieve pressure off of larger fisheries by introducing similar items into peoples’ diets. So this season, consider trying rock crab over dungeness, and don’t forget the furikake! Rock crabs have even been deemed a good alternative to other more endangered types of crab and lobster by the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch Program, meaning they’re a perfect dinner choice for all of our members!
This week at Trashfish, we have prepared a delicious mix of both of these wonderful things. We look forward to spicing up the typically sweet taste of rock crab with the savory flavors of the furikake. We hope you enjoy spicing up your weeknight dinner!
Image courtesy of Food52