Posted in Home Cooking, The Flavors of Asia, The Grocery Shop-a-holic, The Joy of Snacks, The Wonders of Japanese Cuisine

In Which Fried Potatoes Get Some Japanese Flavor…

Anyone want potatoes?
Anyone want potatoes?

I don’t know anyone who doesn’t like fried potatoes.  Whether it’s French fries or waffle fries, hash browns or tater tots, they are irresistible, toothsome, and totally satisfying.  I mean, really: they may be unhealthy, but these are so moreish and comforting that one cannot help munch down scads and scads of crunchy-skinned deep-fried spuds.

While fried potatoes are delicious enough with just a bare sprinkle of salt, I’ve taken a cue from how McDonald’s serves its spuds in Japan.  In the Land of the Rising Sun, fast-food munchers are given small packets of flavored salt with which to season the snack.  Popular flavors are nori (seaweed), curry, and the incendiary one based on the fiery shichimi togarashi.

But I say: why stop at flavored salt when you can go the whole hog and toss the spuds in furikake for a real burst of flavor?

Furikake is a catch-all term for dry seasoning mixes meant to be sprinkled onto or stirred into cooked rice.  The most common one, norishio, is a very basic mixture of finely chopped nori, sesame seeds, salt, and sugar.  Admittedly this tastes pretty good on both rice and fried spuds, but why stick to basics when you can seriously amp up the flavor factor with katsuoboshi?

The fried potatoes at the top of this page were tossed in katsuoboshi (dried, salt-cured bonito shavings) furikake and have a lovely umami flavor profile that sets them well above standard-issue spuds: a salty, herbaceous flavor from the nori, a faint meatiness from the fish flakes, and a very subtle sweetness from the sesame seeds.  This is definitely something home cooks ought to try in their own kitchens, but if you’re not so culinary-inclined, I recommend bringing a packet of furikake (they’re available in the Asian food aisles of major supermarkets and Oriental grocery stores) and sprinkling the stuff liberally over fast-food spuds.

(And now that McDonald’s – Philippines is touting super-sized BFF fries, a nefarious plan involving whole packets of furikake rears its head…)


Midge started her career in PR writing at seventeen when she began drafting documentaries for a government-run television station in the Philippines. Since then, she made a career in advertising and public relations which ended in June 2016 These days, she works full time at Philippine Tatler as a features writer under the nom de guerre Marga Manlapig. Aside from what she does for a living and her poetry, she has turned her home kitchen into a personal culinary lab and is currently working on another novel. Follow her on Instagram at @midgekmanlapig.

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