The Japanese Seasoning That Will Elevate Your Roasted Vegetables

Mother Nature has blessed us with an array of colorful vegetables that can be drizzled with oil, seasoned with a pinch of salt and pepper, and roasted in a piping hot oven. Thus, a sheet pan of roasted vegetables is born. The colors are darkened and the flavor notes are slightly sweeter thanks to the science of the Maillard reaction, per Science Direct. Roasted veggies then take their place on a dinner plate alongside hearty entrees like pan-seared pork chops or grilled steak, except there's a slight problem: They may be a little bland.

Sometimes salt and pepper are enough to achieve simplicity, as the flavors of roasted vegetables shine through more prominently. But other times, you want something different — something that will highlight those flavors without masking them. And according to MasterClass, one great option for the job consists of seaweed, sesame seeds, and dried bonito flakes (aka dried fish).

What kind of seasoning is that? We initially wondered the same thing. But to justify the claim, we need to first take a trip to the seasoning's motherland: Japan.

The seasoning is commonly sprinkled over fish and rice

According to Sushi Sushi Co., furikake seasoning was created 12 or 13 centuries ago. Apparently, Japanese people weren't getting enough calcium in their diet, so a pharmacist decided to right this wrong by using dried fish flakes, along with herbs and sesame, to create a calcium-rich seasoning blend. Aside from these base ingredients, furikake seasoning may also be incorporated with dried yuzu peel, miso powder, and shiitake mushroom powder for varying flavor notes, via MasterClass.

But what does it taste like? Japanese food blog Chopstick Chronicles notes that there are crunchy, salty, and nutty elements to furikake seasoning, but it also depends on which flavor you purchase or make at home. Popular choices include salmon, shiso, and wasabi, according to Japan Centre.

Furikake also translates to "sprinkle over," which is convenient since this seasoning is commonly sprinkled over ramen, rice balls, bowls of rice, fish, omelets, and of course, roasted vegetables. And since it's typically used as a garnish for roasted vegetables, it's best to sprinkle it on after the veggies are fully cooked and ready to be eaten. The result? A new and improved side dish that is enhanced with textural contrast, as well as umami flavors that aren't overpowering.

So when it comes to elevating roasted vegetables, or almost any dish for that matter, make a beeline for furikake seasoning in the grocery store or make your own. Either way, your veggies will happily thank you with authentic Japanese flavors.