Until recently, rice-loving Americans looking to add a little zing to their favorite grain would need to trek out to the nearest Asian grocery store to pick up a pack of furikake rice topping. But now, according to Japanese media, the toppings are gaining traction on the US west coast and is becoming more widely available.

Furikake consists of a mish-mash of ingredients that have been dried and powdered and, in Japan, is intended specifically and only to be sprinkled atop a steaming hot bowl of sticky Japanese rice; which explains why many Japanese people are reacting with shock at how the Americans are choosing to deploy the condiment.


Japanese news compilation site Naver Matome has gathered a handful of anecdotes from news, blogs, and tweets which claim that, while furikake is gaining more widespread acceptance in the United States, many consumers appear to be using it for sprinkling onto all kinds of different foods that are objectively not white rice.

For starters, it seems that one of the many uses of furikake stateside is as a rub or garnish on things like grilled chicken and seared meats. Additionally, some are even sprinkling it on hot dogs, spam (this is probably referring to spam musubi, the popular Hawaiian/Japanese snack), hamburgers and french fries, popcorn, pastas and salads.

Some Netizens in Japan are pretty happy about furikake’s spread in America, not least because it means they’ll be able to get their hands on it more easily when abroad. Others, however, were disgruntled by the many American recipes that seemed to break the “rules” of furikake use.

Generally speaking, sticky Japanese white rice is unsurprisingly revered in Japan. It’s the staple food of the country and it’s served on the side with most meals. Since most Japanese have enjoyed bowls of fluffy, steamed white rice with nearly every meal since childhood, many consider it an almost perfect foodstuff, not to be defiled by additional flavors and additives, unless said additives or toppings have subtle, complementary flavors. This is why a lot of Japanese people turn up their noses at westerners, who have a perceived tendency to pour soy sauce over their rice.

A Japanese bottle of chocolate furikake, unusual even by Japanese standards


But here’s the rub: if Japanese white rice is such a perfect dish meant to be enjoyed by itself, then why is furikake paradoxically okay on only the one food you’re not supposed to add flavors to? The stuff comes in all kinds of wacky varieties, like wasabi, the above-pictured chocolate, ume plum, bonito… it’s basically just funhouse salt and it’s great. There ought to be a million uses for the stuff, so go America! Heck, put it on your morning Count Chocula cereal if the mood strikes you; I won’t judge. The whole point of food—other than, I guess, that whole keeping you alive thing—is to taste good to the individual consumer, after all…

Source: Naver Matome
Images: RocketNews24