There are some aspects of Japanese culture you aren’t likely to come across until you live with a Japanese family – whether that is in Japan or elsewhere.
One of those is ふりかけ (furikake), which literally means “sprinkle” and is a Japanese condiment which is commonly sprinkled on top of rice. There are many varieties with different mixtures of ingredients, but some typical ones are dried fish (including salmon), sesame seeds, chopped seaweed, shiso, and even vegetables. This list is not too surprising since the Japanese diet consists largely of vegetables, fish, and other products of the sea.
While some types of furikake contain sugar and/or salt, others contain neither of these. It’s surprising how great furikake tastes, and considering it typically has a mix of many nutrients, I feel it is one of the best condiments you can use – especially compared to things like pure salt or ketchup which have a huge amount of sodium. However the furikake which contain MSG I’d try to stay away from if you are health conscious.
If you’re pressed for time or lack ingredients for cooking, you can make a simple meal with white rice (which ideally is pre-prepared and sitting in in your rice maker （炊飯器) and an egg or two). This is way healthier than any american fast food and contains a good amount of protein, carbohydrates, and other nutrients, and is low in salt and fat.
My son has gotten to love furikake so much sometimes he’ll only eat white rice topped with it, to the point where it’s as he wants rice with his furikake. One of his favorites is okaka, which contains bonito flakes and soy sauce. There is even ふりかけ themed after children’s characters, like Anpanman.
Furikake is available in many asian food stores in the U.S., and I highly recommend trying one of the flavors. Like my son, you just might get hooked!
(Featured image from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Otonano_Furikake01.jpg)