Stewed Hijiki

I’ve decided to be a pescatarian for a month, just to see if it will make me feel any different. I’m not a huge meat eater, but I consume it out of habit, without thinking. This month, I want to be deliberate about what I put into my body and part of this is making sure I’m getting the right nutrients.

Hijiki is a good source of fiber, iron, calcium, and magnesium. Seems like it should be eaten in moderation, though, since some scientists say it contains quantities of inorganic arsenic. This is meant as an accompaniment to other side dishes, so I’ve never worried about over consumption.

I’ve married two recipes here (adding more ingredients to the dish), but if you don’t have access to some of them, using what you have on hand will work just fine. I love the mild mineral flavor, the slight sweetness from the mirin and sugar, the distinctive crunch of the lotus root, and the soft chikuwa. Perfect with a bowl of steaming hot rice.

Stewed Hijiki | Hijiki no Nimono
Makes 6 to 8 servings

1 oz. dried hijiki
2 dried shiitake
1 carrot
6 green beans
1 chikuwa
1 aburaage
3.5 oz. lotus root
1 1/2 Tbsp. canola oil
1 1/4 cups dashi
2 Tbsp. sake
1 Tbsp. mirin
3 Tbsp. sugar
3 Tbsp. shoyu

Let hijiki sit in a bowl of ample water for 20 minutes. In a separate bowl, reconstitute the shiitake in water and set aside. Meanwhile, blanch the aburaage. Let cool, then cut in half and slice into narrow strips crosswise. Blanch the green beans, then slice diagonally into 2 to 3 pieces, depending on the length. Peel the lotus root, cut in quarters lengthwise. Then, slice the lotus root thinly and let sit in water. Peel the carrot and cut into a fine julienne. Slice the chikuwa in half lengthwise, then slice on the diagonal into 6 to 8 pieces each.

Strain the hijiki and quickly blanch and strain again. Take the shiitake out of the water and lightly squeeze the water out of it. Slice the shiitake in half, then slice thinly crosswise. Strain the lotus root and set aside.

In a medium pot over medium heat, add oil. Once hot, add the carrots, lotus root, and shiitake and stir to coat evenly with oil. Add the aburaage and hijiki and mix well. Add the dashi, then the sake and sugar and bring to a boil over medium heat. Next, add the shoyu and mirin and boil until there is only some liquid left, about 15 to 20 minutes.

Add the chikuwa and green beans and let cook for another 3 to 4 minutes. Cool to room temperature to let the flavors meld and serve with rice.

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  1. Posted January 13, 2011 at 11:31 am | Permalink

    Delicious! I need to try this. I’m trying to eat all the veggies I buy at the Farmer’s Market! – mary

  2. Posted January 13, 2011 at 2:59 pm | Permalink

    Go to a Japanese market and looked at the different prepared foods for new ideas on healthy eating. Many Japanese side dishes are based on seaweed, pickled vegetables, fish cake, etc… and actually are relatively simple to prepare. I suggest remembering the name of some of these dishes and researching recipes from reputable Japanese chefs. Most of side dishes are inexpensive and are worth sampling before testing out the recipe. I grew up in a household where my mother cooked about 85% Japanese foods from her hometown and have since taken the next steps to ask her how to make some of my childhood favorites.

  3. Posted January 13, 2011 at 10:35 pm | Permalink

    I was kinda worried when I ate quite a lot of hijiki adding them to my soups. Now, you made me more worried :O

  4. Posted January 13, 2011 at 11:00 pm | Permalink

    Tigerfish, I don’t mean to make you worried! I’ve eaten hijiki since I was young and it’s often included in the bentos I buy at the Japanese market. I tried to read up on it, but there are a lot of differing opinions about how much is okay to eat. As with most things in life, moderation is key.

  5. Posted January 14, 2011 at 5:31 am | Permalink

    This recipe looks great.. i think that eating anything too much is not good, moderation is the key! If you are not eating meat, don’t just eat fish. Make sure you get beans and lentils and dairy products in your diet too.

  6. Posted January 14, 2011 at 8:38 am | Permalink

    Thanks for the advice, Jaynie! I’ve been eating dairy daily, but I need to be better about incorporating more beans. To be honest, I don’t miss meat one bit!

  7. Posted January 15, 2011 at 11:29 am | Permalink

    I absolutely LOVE hijiki. And lotus root. And everything in this recipe, really.
    When I go to Asian grocery stores, I always stock up on kombu, nori, arame, etc. but for some reason I can never find hijiki! How long are the strands? Maybe I’m just not looking in the right place?

  8. Posted January 15, 2011 at 10:51 pm | Permalink

    Lida, the strands vary in length. I usually buy the short kind, but if you buy the long ones, you can just cut them to size after blanching. Hijiki is usually in the same place as kombu—in the dried foods section, but it looks like you’ve searched there already. Maybe your store doesn’t carry it? Hope you find a place that has it!

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