Japanese clam congee

Yesterday’s lunch, an excuse to use the rice cooker in my kitchen and take advantage of the furikake seasoning Kim Darnell picked up for me in last week’s grocery trip on my behalf. No pictures of the stuff — soupy rice isn’t at all photogenic — but something about the ingredients. Mostly about food, a bit about language.

From NOAD2:

noun congee: (in Chinese cooking) broth or porridge made from rice.

Ingredients: a cup of cooked white rice; a can of white clam sauce (in the old days, I’d make the sauce more from scratch — though not to the point of digging and shucking the clams — but now that’s a challenge, so I turn to the Cento people); and a lot of furikake seasoning (which I would indulge in just for the word, especially if I get to pronounce it, with a voiceless bilabial fricative [ɸ], but in fact I’m a fan of the taste too.). 

Imagine the rice. Then the sauce:

(#1)

And what knits it all together is a lot of sprinkles of:

(#2)

From Wikipedia:

Furikake [furi ‘shake’, kake ‘sprinkle’] is a dry Japanese seasoning meant to be sprinkled on top of cooked rice, vegetables, and fish. It typically consists of a mixture of dried fish, sesame seeds, chopped seaweed, sugar, salt, and monosodium glutamate. Other flavorful ingredients such as katsuobushi (sometimes indicated on the package as bonito), or okaka (bonito flakes moistened with soy sauce and dried again), freeze-dried salmon particles, shiso, egg, powdered miso, vegetables, etc., are often added to the mix.

Furikake is often brightly colored and flaky. It can have a slight fish or seafood flavoring, and is sometimes spicy. It can be used in Japanese cooking for pickling foods and for rice balls (onigiri). Since 2003, furikake has increasingly gained acceptance in the US (particularly in Hawaii and the West Coast) as a seasoning for baked or fried fish, raw fish salads and snack foods such as furikake party mix.

Outside Japan, furikake can be found in most Asian groceries (near the katsuobushi) or in the ethnic food aisle of some major supermarkets.

For some future time: the way the M noun seasoning is used.

2 Responses to “Japanese clam congee”

  1. Bob Richmond Says:

    My wife just bought a can of this very clam sauce – definitely will try this if I can find some furikake.

    Interesting word, congee. Probably Tamil. The original OED oldest citation is from Dickens – the citation gives no idea what the word might mean. OED2 clarifies.

    The usual Chinglish word today is “jook”, attested in most Chinese languages. I need to learn to make it, since no local restaurant has this Chinese staple.

  2. chrishansenhome Says:

    HWMBO occasionally buys furikake, which he calls “magic powder”. It’s eluded my taste buds, so it’s magic only to him.

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