We are quickly approaching the season of overindulgence. Cocktail parties, Friendsgiving, Thanksgiving, New Years brunches….all filled with delicious, and filling, foods. It’s nice to have a wholesome, nutrient dense meal to restore and recharge in between. That’s where Hijiki comes in. Hijiki is a sea vegetable that has been consumed in Japan for centuries. Grown wild on the coastlines of east Asia, it is rich in minerals like magnesium, iron, and calcium. It also provides a hefty dose of fiber. And if you find the taste of seaweed to be a little too briny, you’re in luck. Hijiki is more earthy tasting than fishy. Combined with tofu, edamame, mushrooms, and a flavorful sauce, this Hijiki makes a quick and satisfying meal to fuel you through this busy season.
Hijiki is typically purchased dried, and looks a bit like tea leaves. You can find it at the Asian grocery store in the aisle where other sea vegetables like Nori, Wakame, and Kombu are sold.
My family members are big fans of Hijiki and my version is an easy dish to introduce to children. The flavors are mild, the veggies tender, and it has a gentle sweetness. Plus it’s delicious with rice, coating the grains with rich flavor. However, for many older Japanese people, like my best friend’s father, Hijiki brings up bad food memories. Post war Japan was a food desert, with too many hungry mouths. Hijiki, which was abundant and cheap, featured in many meals. To this day, he refuses to eat it. Thankfully, we are lucky to eat Hijiki by choice, and it’s an excellent one.
The hijiki gets soaked in water to rehydrate before using in a recipe. Cover the hijiki with water for 15-30m minutes, and then drain and rinse.
Use the time that it’s soaking to prep everything else.
When everything is prepped and the hijiki is drained and rinsed, it’s time to put it all together. Start by heating a deep pan and then adding a neutral oil.
Then a Gentle Simmer
The mixture needs to simmer covered for about 25 minutes for all the flavors to meld and the vegetables soften. There’s a good amount of liquid that gets added to the Hijiki. Depending on how tight your lid sits, you may have just a bit of sauce left or it may be a little soupy. I usually cook the Hijiki for 5 minutes with the lid off at the end, (to cook off some of the extra moisture), but this dish is meant to be wet.
Right at the end, I add edamame for a nice pop of color, and then this nutritional superstar is ready to serve.
Leftovers make a wonderful lunch and it keeps well in the fridge, about a week. So take some time during the holi-daze rush to down something nourishing and refueling. And let me know what you think! You can rate the recipe below and leave a comment, and show off our creations by tagging @funkyasiankitchen, we love hearing from you!
- 1 ounce dried hijiki, about ½ cup
- 1 fried tofu cutlet, about 6 ounces (You can substitute extra firm tofu)
- 1 medium carrot or 2 small carrots
- ½ large onion
- 4 ounces shiitake mushrooms
- ½ cup shelled edamame
- 2 Tablespoons neutral oil
- 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
- ¼ cup mirin
- ¼ cup soy sauce
- 2 cups water
- 1 teaspoon dashi powder
- Soak the hijiki in 3 cups of water for 15-30 minutes. Drain the hijiki in a colander, rinse under running water, and set aside.
- Prep the vegetables while soaking hijiki:
- Cut the tofu in half horizontally and then in half lengthwise. Now cut across the strips to create small thin pieces. Set aside.
- Trim the stems off of the shiitakes and discard. Slice the mushrooms into thin slices. Set aside.
- Peel and trim the carrots. Slice cut the carrots in half lengthwise and then cut into thin half moon pieces. Set aside.
- Trim the onion and peel off the outer skin. Cut the onion in half lengthwise and then slice the onion into thin pieces. Set aside.
- Heat a deep skillet over medium high heat for several minutes. Add the oil and then the onions. Sauté the onion for about 5 minutes, moving them around. You should start to see the onions caramelize.
- Add the carrots, mushrooms, and hiziki, and stir to combine.
- Add the tofu, soy sauce, mirin, dashi powder, sesame oil, and water. Bring the mixture to a simmer and then lower the heat to medium low and cover with a lid.
- Simmer for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Take the lid off, raise the heat to medium high and continue to cook for 5 minutes letting some of the liquid evaporate.
- Add the edamame, and cook for 2-3 minutes until the edamame is heated through.
- Serve immediately.
Keywords: vegan, healthy asian, sea vegetables, seaweed, tofu, japanese