Last Updated on June 3, 2023
This dish represents what real Japanese homecooked food tastes like. Shiso Furikake Rice with Grilled Radish is a simple and clean tasting rice dish. It’s aromatic from shiso perilla flakes with a lightly charred flavor from the grilled radish. The rice is accompanied by fresh scallions and toasted sesame seeds. It’s my type of vegan comfort food.
I love reading books of memoir and food journals especially about Japanese food. Often times, I find those books written by non-native Japanese authors. One book that I recently read was “ナンシーさんの和の台所仕事” (WANI BOOKS, 2017) by Nancy Singleton Hachisu. The book is written in Japanese but in case you’re wondering, the title can be translated as “Nancy’s Japanese-style kitchen work.”
Nancy Singleton Hachisu is a California native cookbook author and food journalist. Her English written books; Japanese Farm Food, Preserving the Japanese Way, Japan, The Cookbook, and Food Artisans of Japan can be found at any bookstores.
After graduating from Stanford University, she moved to Japan and worked as an English teacher then soon married an organic farmer, Tadaaki Hachisu. They live in a farmhouse in an rural area of Saitama, Japan. Her style of cooking is simple, clean, yet comforting, focusing on the importance of using seasonal organic produce with high-quality ingredients.
While I don’t have a farm or garden to grow my own produce, I can truly relate to her philosophy of cooking. If you’re following my blog for a while, you can see my style of cooking is different from other vegan recipes that you may find. Simple (not necessarily ‘quick & easy’), light and clean without compromising on quality is my way of cooking, just like Ms. Hachisu’s.
In the book previously mentioned, Ms. Hachisu introduces a rice recipe with red shiso perilla furikake (flakes) topped with deep-fried Japanese daikon radish. As a shiso lover, this dish spoke to me immediately so I decided to make my own version of it! Instead of using deep-fried daikon radish in the original recipe, I use grilled radish. A hint of charred flavor from the radish turns out to be a great accent to the dish. Also, to give an extra touch, my recipe is topped with scallions and toasted sesame seeds.
The Overall Taste
It tastes authentically Japanese, not in a formal way but rather with a comforting taste of homecooked food. In a way, it tastes the same as I’d find in my mom’s cooking. It instantly became my new favorite! I can see myself cooking this over and over.
The rice is light and savory with a right amount of saltiness. The shiso leaves are very aromatic & refreshing and the slightly charred flavor of the grilled radish really stands out. The purple color of the shiso and the pink from the radish is very pretty to look at. Also, the addition of scallion and toasted sesame seeds makes it extra special.
One of the main ingredients for this recipe is shiso furikake (flakes.) You can’t make this dish without it. So, what does it taste like?
What’s Shiso Furikake?
Shiso furikake (flakes) is a product made with shiso leaves (dried) mixed with sea salt and plum vinegar. The most common way to eat shiso furikake is to sprinkle on top of rice or mix into it. The Japanese word furikake [ふりかけ] means “sprinkles” which usually refers to something to sprinkle on rice for flavor.
Shiso furikake is typically made of red perilla leaves known as akajiso [赤紫蘇] in Japanese. Akajiso is used for umeboshi (salty pickled plums) which gives the red color which is also found in ume vinegar. The taste of the fresh shiso leaves is somewhat basil-like but definitely different and lighter.
Good shiso furikake is typically made of 3 simple ingredients;
- Red shiso
- Ume plum vinegar
The one I used is Organic Shiso Furikake from from Umami Insider. Ms. Hachisu highly recommends to use an organic one for better aroma & taste. I agree!
This particular one from Umami Insider is made with organic shiso leaves. As you can see on the bottle label, it’s JAS certified organic product—JAS stands for Japanese Agricultural Standards. Unlike other cheaper products, it tastes very clean with very minimal ingredients. You can really taste the 3 ingredients of shiso, salt, and ume plum vinegar as how it supposed to taste.
When you look for shiso furikake products, be careful with the ingredients. As vegans, we know we should always check the labels for hidden non-vegan ingredients. While typical shiso furikake products may not contain fish or animal products (as you may find many Japanese products), MSG is commonly used. To give you an example, yukari is one of them (no fish or animal ingredients but has MSG in it.)
Another choice would be Ohwsawa Shiso Powder from Gold Mine Natural Foods.
Here is the list of ingredients to make this rice dish!
Shiso Furikake Rice
- Japanese white rice (starchy short grain rice)
- Shiso Flakes (shiso frikake)
- Neutral Oil
- Black Pepper
- Toasted Sesame Seeds
Please refer to the actual recipe for more details.
The Tips and Recipe Notes
Japanese White Rice
Being Japanese, rice is a staple in my kitchen. Because of that I’m always looking for better choice of rice. Compare to 20 years ago, it’s a lot easier to find high-quality rice here in the U.S.. For the love of rice, I’ve tried multiple brands but my recommendations keep changing from time to time.
My recent discoveries are Gensenmai and Konotori-Hagukumu-Okome. They are products of Japan and I bought them online from MTC kitchen, NY. Between these two, Konotori-Hagukumu-Okome (the 2nd photo) is by far the winner! No matter what brand you use, I’d highly recommend using real Japanese rice (preferably white rice.)
How to Cook Japanese White Rice
There are two ways to make Japanese rice properly. One is to use a Japanese rice cooker such as Zojisushi brand (I have one, too) which is the easiest and you’ll never go wrong with it. The other way is to cook on stovetop using cast-iron pot or donabe (clay pot.)
I made this recipe using my beloved Staub pot (made for cooking rice) but you can do the same by using your rice cooker or other cookware. Whether using rice cooker or pot, there are a few key points that you want to consider in order to make a good Japanese rice:
- Rinse the rice until water becomes clear
- Let the rinsed rice rest in a fine-mesh colander for 30 minutes (to make the rice puffy/fluffy)—optional but highly recommended
- Use a specific ratio of rice to water (see the recipe)
- If cooking on stovetop, learn to master the process/timing using your own cookware (see the recipe for how I make mine on stovetop)
By default, I use 1 1/2 US cups (300 g) uncooked rice which is equivalent to 2 rice measuring cups that comes with the rice cooker. In the end, the recipe yields for:
- 4 regular size servings
- 3 large servings
- 6 small servings
Of course, ideal serving size is different for everyone. For us (two big-eater adults), using 1 1/2 US cups is good for making 1-2 meals.
Shiso Furikake (Flakes)
You know by now that shiso furikake is one of the main ingredients for this recipe so you want to make sure to use a high quality product. As introduced earlier, the one I used for this recipe is Organic Shiso Furikake from Umami Insider.
Another option will be Ohsawa Shiso Powder from Gold Mine Natural Foods. Again, be sure to check the label! Remember, good shiso flakes should contain only 3 ingredients: Shiso (perilla) leaves, sea salt, and plum (ume) vinegar.
Any shiso furikake is made with salt which should be enough to seasoned rice. However, you can add extra salt as needed if you prefer saltier taste instead of adding more shiso furikake to adjust the saltiness.
I used red/pink-ish color radish for this recipe. Other radishes varieties will also work. Cut them roughly into bite size pieces then coat them with neutral oil and lightly season with salt and pepper. Grill them on stovetop until grill marks are visible. That lightly charred flavor is what you want to look for in this recipe. Also, you want to leave a little bite so don’t overcook them. If you don’t have a grill pan, use regular frying pan to cook them until golden brown.
Toasted Sesame Seeds
This is another staple in my kitchen. I toast sesame seeds at home using frying pan. It’s so easy and quick to do but the end result is purely amazing! You’ll never go back to your store bought stale-taste sesame seeds. Try it today using the recipe here. I can grantee you’ll never want to use any alternatives!
Check out other delicious vegan Japanese rice dishes!
Shiso Furikake Rice with Grilled Radish
Shiso Furikake Rice
- 1 1/2 cups uncooked Japanese white rice (starchy short grain rice)
- 1 2/3 cups water
- 3 tsp shiso flakes (shiso furikake) *
- Salt (to taste) *
- 4-5 radish (about 6 oz)
- 1/2 tsp neutral oil
- 1/4 tsp salt
- A pinch of ground black pepper
- 1 scallion finely chopped
- 1 1/2 tsp toasted sesame seeds
- Prepare rice. Place rice in a large bowl. Pour running water to cover the rice. Wash it with your hand moving in circular motion then quickly discard the water. Repeat the process for 5 to 6 times until water becomes clear. Drain well. Transfer to a fine-mesh colander and let it stand for 30 minutes (optional but recommended.) Alternative way: Place rice in a fine mesh colander. Rinse under running water. Use a hand moving in circular motion to rinse thoroughly until water becomes clear. Drain well. Let it stand for 30 minutes.
- Transfer the rice to preferably a cast iron pot with a heavy lid or something similar. Pour water and make the rice leveled and cover with the lid. Rice cooker method: Cook the rice according to the settings of your rice cooker. Skip to step 4.
- Cook over slightly higher than medium heat. In about 10-15 minutes, it starts almost boiling (you will see the bubbles.) At this point, open the lid and use a rice paddle to give a quick stir from the bottom. Make the rice leveled again then cover with the lid. Reduce the heat to low and continue to simmer for 10 minutes. After the 10 minutes, turn off the heat. Keep the lid on and let it stand for 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile prepare the grilled radish. Cut radishes into small (4-6) equal pieces. Transfer to a prep bowl. Combine with neutral oil, salt, and pepper.
- Heat up a grill pan (or regular frying pan) at medium high heat. Place the radish white-flesh side down and cook for 6-7 minutes until you see grill marks (adjust the heat if necessary.) Flip to cook the other side for another 6-7 minutes. Lastly, cook the red-skin side for 4-5 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.
- When the rice is done, transfer the rice to a large bowl. Add shiso flakes (shiso furikake) and mix gently. Adjust the seasoning with extra salt as needed. Add the grilled radish and mix again.
- To serve, top with scallions and toasted sesame seeds.
- There are many products available but I recommend buying organic ones with no additives such as MSG. The high quality one should have only 3 ingredients; red shiso perilla leaves, salt, and plum vinegar. You can find one at Umami Insider or Gold Mine Natural Foods.
- Shiso flakes (shiso furikake) is typically seasoned salty. However, you can add extra salt to the cooked rice to adjust to your taste preference.