Hijiki Rice is a colorful Japanese mixed rice (takikomi gohan) cooked in seasoned dashi with seaweed, carrots, and aburaage fried tofu. Part of a balanced Japanese diet for centuries, hijiki is a savory sea vegetable that’s rich in minerals and dietary fiber. Enjoy this classic recipe that’s also vegan friendly.
From a young age, I was aware that I had a very eclectic taste when it came to food. I always loved classic Japanese ichiju sansai style meals with grilled fish, small sides, and rice and miso soup while my friends were more interested in western food and yoshoku (western-influenced Japanese food). I especially loved all kinds of mixed rice or takikomi gohan, and this Hijiki Rice was one of my favorites.
When I came to the US, my college friends often gave me a questionable look when they saw black specs of seaweed in my food. I was a little shy back then to explain why we eat seaweed, how delicious it is, and why they should give sea vegetables a try. But not anymore! Today I’d love for you to discover this amazing rice dish featuring hijiki.
Table of Contents
Are You New to Japanese Mixed Rice?
Japanese Mixed Rice or what we call Takikoki Gohan (炊き込みご飯), is a Japanese dish made with short-grain rice and other ingredients.
Every season, we enjoy rice cooked with fresh seasonal ingredients, such as green peas or bamboo shoots in spring, corn in summer, sweet potato or chestnut in fall, and oyster or root vegetables in winter.
We would also serve mixed rice instead of plain white rice to complement a simple main dish for a colorful and appetizing meal.
Rice is typically cooked with water; however, for the mixed rice, we use dashi, Japanese soup stock, for more flavor.
Now let’s talk about the main ingredient for today’s mixed rice—hijiki.
What is Hijiki?
Hijiki (ひじき) is an edible dried seaweed with a black and shredded appearance. It’s harvested on the rocky coastlines of Japan, Korea, and China. It’s green to brown when harvested, then turns black when boiled and dried. It’s eaten in Japanese, Chinese, and Korean cuisine. Have you tried it before?
This traditional food has been a part of a balanced diet in Japan for centuries. It’s rich in dietary fiber, vitamins, calcium, and essential minerals.
There are two types of hijiki seaweed; small soft “bud” parts called mehijiki (芽ひじき), which I used in this recipe, and long and chewy “stems” parts called nagahijiki (長ひじき), which we don’t usually find here in the U.S.
If you’re worried about the warning label on these products, just know that unless you eat a whole package worth in one day, you don’t need to worry. Typical consumption won’t affect your health.
It has a savory and earthy flavor with a less pronounced briny taste than other seaweeds such as wakame and nori. It has a pleasant crunch and a chewy bite after cooking.
Where To Buy
Find it in the dried foods aisle of Japanese, Asian, and Korean supermarkets and natural food stores. You can also buy it on Amazon.
How to Use
Before using hijiki in cooking, soak it in cold water for 30 minutes. Drain well, rinse under running water, and it’s ready for use.
How to Make Hijiki Rice (Hijiki Gohan)
Ingredients You’ll Need
- Japanese short-grain rice
- Hijiki seaweed
- Aburaage (fried tofu pouch)
- Seasonings: Vegan dashi, soy sauce (or tamari), mirin, and salt
This classic recipe is vegan-friendly with only plant-based ingredients. Typically, meat is not included, but you can do so by adding small pieces of chicken thighs.
Overview: Cooking Steps
- Make vegan dashi by hydrating kombu and dried shiitake mushrooms.
- Soak hijiki seaweed and cut all the ingredients into small pieces.
- Rinse rice, and transfer to a rice cooker bowl (donabe, pot, or Instant Pot).
- Add the vegan dashi, seasonings, and ingredients, and start cooking.
- Let it steam after cooking, fluff the rice, and serve.
Hijiki Rice Cooking Tips
- Take note of the rice cooker cup – If you have never owned a rice cooker, you may not be aware that the rice is measured with a rice cooker cup. 1 rice cooker cup is 180 ml, equivalent to 3/4 US cup. This measurement is standard for all brands of rice cookers. If your rice cooker comes with a clear rice cooker cup, it is a 180-ml cup.
- The ratio for Japanese short-grain rice to water is 1:1.1 or 1:1.2 – For 1 rice cooker cup (180 ml) of Japanese rice, you will need 200 ml of water or dashi and liquid seasonings should be included in this calculation.
- Do not mix rice and ingredients – This applies to all mixed rice recipes. You first need to mix the rice, dashi, and seasonings, but other ingredients such as veggies must go on top without being mixed in with the rice. This ensures the rice is cooked evenly. Once the rice is done cooking, then you can mix everything together.
- Always soak Japanese short-grain rice – The short-grain rice is plump (thicker) than other varieties and it needs a head start to absorb moisture to the core. Soaking for 20-30 minutes is standard.
- Repurpose leftover hijiki rice into onigiri (rice balls) – You can shape the leftover into rice balls and pack them in your bento lunch box. They were my favorite type of onigiri growing up!
What to Serve with Hijiki Rice
- Japanese Salted Salmon
- Niku Tofu (Simmered Beef and Tofu)
- Chicken Karaage
- Ginger Pork Rolls with Eggplant
- Miso Cod
- Tonjiru (Pork and Vegetable Miso Soup)
Other Delicious Mixed Rice Recipes
- Japanese Corn Rice
- Japanese Mushroom Rice
- Japanese Sweet Potato Rice
- Green Pea Rice
- Wild Pine Mushroom Rice
- Bamboo Rice
Hijiki Rice (Takikomi Gohan)
- 1½ cups uncooked Japanese short-grain white rice (1½ cups of uncooked rice are 2 rice cooker cups (10.6 oz, 300 g) and yield roughly 4 servings (3½ cups, 660 g) of cooked rice)
- 3 Tbsp dried hijiki seaweed (I used mehijiki (芽ひじき), the small, soft “buds“ of the hijiki plant; you can also use the long and chewy “stems” called nagahijiki (長ひじき), which are less commonly found in the US)
- 1 piece aburaage (deep-fried tofu pouch) (¾ oz, 20 g)
- ⅓ carrot (2.5 oz, 70 g)
For the Dashi (vegan-friendly)
- Gather all the ingredients. Please note that this dashi requires a minimum steeping time of 30 minutes. Ideally, we let the dashi steep for 2–3 hours in the summertime and 4–5 hours in the wintertime.
To Make the Dashi
- Put 1 piece kombu (dried kelp), 2 pieces dried shiitake mushrooms, and 1⅓ cups water in a measuring cup. Let it steep on the counter for at least 30 minutes to extract the kombu’s flavor naturally. Tip: Most Japanese recipes recommend gently cleaning the kombu with a damp cloth. However, the kombu is pretty clean these days. Just make sure to dust off and remove mold spots, if any. Do not wash or wipe off the white powdery substance, as it has lots of umami. For the dried shiitake mushrooms, check if there is any dust or dirt trapped in the gills under the caps. If there is, use a pastry brush to clean it off. Do not wash it under water.
- After steeping, it‘s now ready to use as cold brew Vegan Dashi.
- Remove the hydrated kombu and shiitake from the measuring cup. See my suggestions at the end of the recipe for how to repurpose the spent kombu and shiitake. Then, add enough water to make 1⅓ cups (320 ml) dashi. Tip: The Japanese short-grain rice-to-water ratio is 1 to 1.1 (or 1.2). In this recipe, the dashi and seasonings together are considered the “water“ unit.
To Rehydrate the Hijiki Seaweed
- Rehydrate 3 Tbsp dried hijiki seaweed in plenty of water to cover for 10 minutes. If you use nagahijiki, rehydrate for 20–30 minutes.
- After 10 minutes, drain in a fine-mesh strainer and rinse under running water. Set aside.
To Wash the Rice
- Put 1½ cups uncooked Japanese short-grain white rice in a large bowl and add just enough cold tap water to submerge the grains. Discard the water immediately (so the rice doesn‘t absorb the cloudy water). Next, use your fingers to gently wash the wet grains in a circular motion for 15–20 seconds. Add water to rinse and immediately pour off the cloudy water. Repeat this “wash and rinse“ process a couple more times until the water is clear. Drain the rice in a fine-mesh sieve and shake off the excess water. Set aside while you prepare the other ingredients.
To Cut the Ingredients
- Cut 1 piece aburaage (deep-fried tofu pouch) in half lengthwise, then slice crosswise into thin strips (¼ inch, 6 mm).
- Cut ⅓ carrot into thin slabs (⅛ inch, 3 mm) lengthwise. Then, cut the slabs into thin julienned strips; if they are too long, cut the strips in half.
To Cook the Rice
- To your rice cooker pot (or donabe or heavy-bottomed pot), add the well-drained rice, 2 Tbsp usukuchi (light-colored) soy sauce, 2 Tbsp mirin, 1 Tbsp sake, and ½ tsp Diamond Crystal kosher salt.
- Add the dashi. Then, mix the rice and seasonings well. Gently shake the pot and use your fingers to level the rice so that it‘s evenly distributed and submerged in the water.
- Now, squeeze the hijiki seaweed one more time to drain the extra moisture. Then, sprinkle it on top of the rice in the pot. Do not mix with the rice! Next, scatter the carrot and aburaage on top. Again, do not mix with the rice. Tip: The rice will not cook evenly if mixed with the ingredients.
- Use chopsticks to gently distribute ONLY the ingredients across the top of the rice so their flavors will release evenly. Close the lid. Let the rice soak for 20–30 minutes.For an electric rice cooker, choose the Mixed Rice menu, if available; otherwise, use the general setting. Then, start cooking.For a donabe or heavy-bottomed pot, cook on medium-high heat for about 13–15 minutes.After cooking, let the rice steam for 10–15 minutes. Do not open the lid during this time. This resting period is crucial for the rice to steam properly.
- Gently mix the ingredients into the rice using a slicing motion to avoid mashing the rice grains.
- Serve the Hijiki Rice in individual rice bowls and enjoy!
- You can keep the leftovers in an airtight container and keep them for 3 days in the refrigerator or for up to a month in the freezer.
To Use the Spent Kombu and Shiitake
- Save the spent kombu in an airtight container and store it in the refrigerator for up to a week or in the freezer for up to a month.
- With the spent kombu, you can make Simmered Kombu (Kombu Tsukudani).
- You can also use it in Homemade Furikake (Rice Seasoning).
- For the spent shiitake mushrooms, cut off the tough stems with a knife and discard them. You can use these rehydrated mushrooms as if you are using fresh shiitake mushrooms.