Nori no Tsukudani

The classic combination of rice and miso soup. If you’ve had a Japanese breakfast, you know there’s also a pickle or condiment: umeboshi, furikake, nukazuke, or the highly divisive natto. At my dad’s house in Tokyo, there’s usually a container of kimchee and nori no tsukudani.

Nori no tsukudani is a paste you slather on rice. It tastes how you’d expect—like seaweed, but (dare I say) with more umami. Please know I don’t throw that word around casually. It’s rich, with the right balance of saltiness from the shoyu and a mellow sweetness from the mirin. It’s made from sheets of nori that are hydrated, seasoned, and cooked down until most of the moisture has evaporated. Sesame seeds and sesame oil are stirred in at the end. There are endless ways you can play with it (adding wasabi, yuzu rind, etc.).


I’ve posted a miso soup recipe (and video) before so nothing new there except this katsuobushi (dried bonito) has made life easier:

Thickly shaved katsuobushi (instead of the ubiquitous thin and wispy kind) is great because you throw it into the pot to steep, then pick it out once the dashi is done. You make the miso soup in the same pot, cutting out the step of straining, saving time and dirty dishes.

Noelle knocked it out of the park with this Heidi Swanson recipe: Pan-Fried Giant White Beans with Kale. Can you believe she started the day out like this? I want to have breakfast at her place.

Nori no Tsukudani
Adapted from ochikeron
Makes about 1/4 cup

2 nori sheets
100ml water
1 Tbsp shoyu
1 Tbsp mirin
1 1/2 tsp white sesame seeds
1/2 tsp sesame oil

Tear the nori into small pieces and put in a small pot. Add the water and soak for 3 mins. Turn the heat to medium-low and cook for 5 mins, stirring occasionally. Add the shoyu and mirin and cook until the liquid has mostly evaporated (mine took 13 mins). Turn off heat and stir in sesame seeds and sesame oil. Serve with rice.

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4 Comments

  1. Posted September 18, 2015 at 7:23 am | Permalink

    First of all, I’m delighted to see you have started posting again. This tsukudani is such a timely recipe since I’ve recently become a regular furikake maker and I constantly look for new ideas and (maybe I’m wrong) but I see tsukudani as a moister cousin of furikake, so I’m sure I’ll start experimenting with it too. Thank you so much for sharing this delicious rice addition!

  2. Posted September 19, 2015 at 10:18 pm | Permalink

    Sissi, thank you! I need to take pointers from you when it comes to new recipes (and blogging about them). I’m not sure if this is available where you are, but your comment reminded me they sell soft furikake at our Japanese market now. So. Good.

  3. Chieko
    Posted June 11, 2016 at 2:33 pm | Permalink

    I was in deciding between making a furikake or tsukudani with hijiki. I opted for tsukudani guessing I could dry some of it out after to make a furikake. It worked. Funny, that after soaking hijiki that if you dry it, it looks just like it did before you soaked it. Same for some clear noodles. But once it had been made into a tsukudani, all the flavor is in the previously dried ingredients.

    So, hijiki, wood ear mushroom strips, kombu, nori, shiitake…main ingredients simmered in shoyu, mirin, sake, dash of sweet vinegar, sugar, and orange zest. Imagine when it all came together with the flavors. Intense. I dried half in the microwave for furikake.Will finish air-drying it in a brown paper bag. After short-drying in MW, compared to tsukudani, there was a bit more flavor of caramelization, more concentrated flavor (orange zest) and of course, more texture.

    My choice for ingredients were that they all work well together. Wood ear fungus (mushroom) is often overlooked as a flavorful ingredient and citrus in tsukudani has been used often, especially yuzu.

    My mother was born in Kobe and raised in Osaka. I was born in Tokyo. There are no set recipes in Japan for tsukudani or furikake. It depends on the region, the family’s preferences, available ingredients, etc. My mother thought “outside the rice cooker” (RIP). She came to the States and had to make do. I learned from her. At least I can get most Japanese ingredients now. I share photos and recipes with my cousin in Osaka. She’s surprised that we can find so many Japanese ingredients here and I’m not in a major city.

    So back to tsukudani/furikake. I’d like to share photos with you of these so you can see what I came up with and what they look like!

  4. Posted June 23, 2016 at 10:19 am | Permalink

    Hi Chieko, I would love to see what you’re cooking up!

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