A classic Japanese side dish, Hijiki Seaweed Salad features a type of wild seaweed that is highly nutritious. It is simmered together with a myriad of vegetables in a savory dashi broth. The result is so full of flavor and perfect for meal prep.
If you’re looking to include more sea vegetables into your diet, you’d want to give hijiki a try. Resembling dried tea leaves but lengthier, hijiki is a type of wild seaweed that grows on rocky coastlines around Japan, Korea, and China. It has a sweet, clean taste and mushroom-like quality. In Japan, we often enjoy it as Hijiki No Nimono (ひじきの煮物) which translates to ‘simmered hijiki’.
It is technically a cooked dish, but you’d find it being called Hijiki Seaweed Salad at Japanese restaurants in the US.
What is Hijiki Seaweed
Hijiki seaweed is naturally green or brown in color when it’s hand-harvested by fishermen and divers in the wild. Before being packaged, it is boiled and then dried, and this process turns hijiki black. You will need to rehydrate it by soaking it in the water prior to cooking.
Like other edible sea vegetables, hijiki is known for its dietary fiber and essential minerals like iron, calcium, and magnesium. What’s special about hijiki is it has a pleasant crunch and chewy bite after cooking. The taste is more earthy rather than oceany. The Japanese have been enjoying this traditional food as a part of a balanced diet for centuries.
Ingredients You’ll Need
- Dried hijiki seaweed – You can look for it at Japanese supermarkets, Asian grocery stores, natural food stores, OR online.
- Aburaage (fried tofu pouch) – You get a lot of flavors from Aburaage.
- Carrots – It adds color and nutrition.
- Edamame – The soybeans provide plant-based protein and a satisfying bite to the simmered salad.
- Lotus root (renkon) – Optional, but it adds a nice texture.
- Konnyaku (konjac) – Optional. A jelly-like plant food that is unique to Japanese cuisine. It’s very low in calories and high in fiber.
- Dashi – You can choose to use homemade dashi or a dashi packet. For vegetarians/vegans, use Vegan Dashi.
- Seasonings – soy sauce, mirin, and sugar
You can leave out the optional ingredients, but Hikiji Salad always includes aburaage and edamame.
How to Make Hijiki Seaweed Salad
There are various ways to prepare Hijiki No Nimono, but I really love my mom’s version, so this is very close to how she cooks the dish.
First, we’ll soak the hijiki seaweed in plenty of water for 30 minutes. While it soaks, we prepare the rest of the ingredients. Once ready, start by sauteeing julienned carrots and lotus roots, followed by the rehydrated hijiki, aburaage (fried tofu pouch), and konnyaku (konjac). Cook the vegetables in dashi broth and season with soy sauce, sugar, and mirin. Let everything simmers together for about 30 minutes. At this point, add in edamame and continue to simmer until the sauce is cooked down.
Once it has soaked up the seasonings, let it cool to room temperature so the flavors have a chance to mingle and settle in. The salad is savory, sweet, and pleasantly crunchy. We would serve the Hijiki No Nimono at room temperature and enjoy it as a side dish to a larger part of a Japanese meal. It is often included in a set meal (like Lunch Menu Set) and a bento box.
- Be generous on seasoning – When a dish is eaten at room temperature, you want to be generous with the seasonings so the flavors can come through. Do not cut down on the sugar as we use it to balance the salt and enhance the overall taste.
- Don’t skip aburaage (Fried Tofu Pouch) – The sponge-like texture of the aburaage gives great depth, mouthfeel, and flavor to the dish, so don’t skip it.
- Make a big batch – The simmered hijiki is exactly the kind of dish that Japanese home cooks include in their meal prep. It keeps well and can easily enjoy throughout the week. You can mix it with white steamed rice to make Maze Gohan (Mixed Rice), or top it over soba noodles, or use it to make rice balls.
With contrasting texture and a concentrated sweet-savory flavor, Hijiki Seaweed Salad makes a truly unique Japanese dish that highlights the beauty of sea vegetables. I hope you enjoy it.
Popular Similar Dishes
- Simmered Kabocha Squash
- Simmered Taro
- Simmered Koyadofu
- Simmered Bamboo Shoots
- Simmered Kiriboshi Daikon
Hijiki Seaweed Salad
- ½ cup dried hijiki seaweed (1 oz; 10 x more after rehydrated)
- 4 cups water (for soaking)
- 2 aburaage (deep-fried tofu pouch) (1.4 oz, 40 g; you can substitute it with crispy fried tofu cubes from an Asian grocery store, but blanch them first to remove excess oil)
- 3 oz konnyaku (konjac) (⅓ konnyaku; optional)
- 3 oz carrot (½-1 carrot)
- ¼ lotus root (renkon) (1.3 oz, 37 g; pre-boiled; optional)
- 1 Tbsp neutral-flavored oil (vegetable, rice bran, canola, etc.)
- ⅓ cup shelled edamame (2 oz, 60 g; cooked; optional)
- 2 cups dashi (Japanese soup stock; click to learn more) (for vegan/vegetarian, make Vegan Dashi)
- Gather all the ingredients.
- 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 it over the aburaage. This will remove the excess oil coated on the 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 thin 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 for 20-30 minutes.
- Add the edamame.
- Continue to cook uncovered to reduce the sauce until you see the bottom of the pan.
- Store in an airtight container and keep in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days. You can also freeze it for up to a month.