Have you heard of hijiki before? Yes, I’m talking about this strange looking black ingredient in this dish. Hijiki seaweed is a type of wild seaweed that grows on rocky coastlines around Japan, Korea, and China.
If you haven’t seen hijiki seaweed before, the first impression might be unappetizing. While I was hesitant to share this dish on Just One Book because of how it looks, there was someone I met who was passionate about this dish and has been promoting this traditional Japanese ingredient here in San Francisco.
Back in January, I was invited to a Japan Food Festival hosted by The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) of Japan (農林水産省) at the residence of the Consul General of Japan in San Francisco. The event was to promote the trending Japanese ingredients and seasonings (such as shio koji), and chefs from the top Japanese restaurants in San Francisco showcased their original tasting menu items using Japanese ingredients.
At the reception, I had a pleasure to meet Mr. Iwata (Iwata-san), the owner of a Japanese-style delicatessen DELICA at Ferry Building in San Francisco. We were talking about the Japanese food in the Bay Area and how it has transformed over the past 10 years. There are a lot more Japanese restaurants in the area that serves a variety of Japanese food. We also discussed how we can introduce real Japanese food (that we actually eat in Japan) to people in the Bay Area.
While we were talking about Japanese ingredients that are still unfamiliar in the U.S., Iwata-san told me a story about using hijiki in one of his menus and how his customers responded. He heard many customers saying they can’t eat something look like worms.
However, Iwata-san was confident that people will like it once they try it and kept serving the hijiki seaweed salad. Now it has become really popular and it’s one of their signature lunch items. When I mentioned to him that I had been scared to introduce hijiki seaweed on my blog for this same reason, he encouraged me to promote this traditional Japanese dish and healthy ingredient.
Hijiki seaweed actually is green or brown in color when fishermen and divers harvest in the wild. It is boiled and then dried, and this process turns hijiki black. So when you buy dried hijiki seaweed (found at Japanese supermarkets, Asian grocery stores, and natural food stores), you always need to soak in water before cooking.
Hijiki contains dietary fiber and essential minerals like iron, calcium, and magnesium and this traditional food has been a part of a balanced diet in Japan for centuries.
One of the most common hijiki dish is this Hijiki Salad, where hijiki is cooked with vegetables, konnyaku, and other foods in soy sauce and sugar. I really like how my mom cooks her Hijiki Salad, and this is close enough to how I remember how she cooks it.
Here’s the quick cooking video for Hijiki Salad. Hope you enjoy!
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- ½ cup (1 oz, 27 g) dried hijiki
- 4 cups water for soaking
- 2 aburaage (deep-fried tofu pouch)
- ⅓ (3 oz, 84 g) Konjac/konnyaku (optional)
- ½ - 1 (2.8 oz, 80 g) carrot
- ¼ (1.3 oz, 37 g) pre-boiled lotus root (optional)
- 1 Tbsp. oil
- ⅓ cup (2 oz, 60 g) shelled edamame, cooked (optional)
- 2 cups dashi (kombu dashi for vegetarian)
- Soak dried hijiki in 4 cups of water for 30 minutes.
- Drain to a large fine sieve and wash under the running water.
- Boil water in a small saucepan and pour on top of aburaage. This will remove the oil coated on the aburaage (manufacture’s oil doesn’t taste good, so this extra step will improve flavor of aburaage.). Cut in half lengthwise and slice thinly.
- Add water and konnyaku in a small pot and boil for 3 minutes to remove the smell. It also makes konnyaku absorb flavors more and improves the texture.
- Cut the carrots into julienne pieces.
- Cut the lotus root into thinly pieces.
- Heat oil in a medium pot over medium heat. Add carrot and lotus root and cook until they are coated with oil.
- Add the hijiki, then konnyaku and aburaage. Mix all together.
- Add the dashi and let it boil.
- Add all the seasonings and mix well. Cook covered on medium low heat.
- After 30 minutes, add the edamame.
- Cook uncovered to reduce the sauce until you see the bottom of the pan. Put the leftover in an airtight container and keep in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days.
Recipe by Namiko Chen of Just One Cookbook. All images and content on this site are copyright protected. Please do not use my images without my permission. If you’d like to share this recipe on your site, please re-write the recipe and link to this post as the original source. Thank you.