I had decided to make a Japanese feast this Sunday. Miriam had requested that it be a vegetable forward and a low sugar meal. Japanese dishes seem to have a lot of added sugar, but I could work with that. I found a site with a list of nine Japanese vegetables dishes to go with my main dish of chicken yakitori.
One of the dishes was Hijiki No Nimono [ひじきの煮物; simmered hijiki]—listed on the site as “hijiki carrot salad.” Several of the Japanese vegetable “salads” were first simmered and then chilled. Almost all of the recipes I found online for this dish included carrots.
I found that the different recipes were all over the map on how much seaweed to use—from two cups down to one quarter cup. After carrots and hijiki, there was a great variation in the recipes, which included things like: aburaage (deep fried tofu); edamame; konjac (devil’s tongue jelly); lotus root; firm tofu; and a plethora of additional Eastern and Western ingredients and sauces depending on the cook/chef. I picked the ingredients/amounts that I thought would appeal to my diners.
Note: There are studies warning of the potential health risks of eating hijiki—do to the accumulated arsenic that it has absorbed. The claim is that if you ate one teaspoon every day you would eventually suffer from arsenic poisoning. However, there is no recorded evidence of anyone getting sick from eating this seaweed.
As the name suggests, the seaweed and carrots are simmered in a sauce. Here also there was wide variations in recipes—from cooking the hijiki and carrots for 30 minutes to only warm water poured over the seaweed and then added to raw carrots. I decided that I wanted to cook the carrots until just tender crisp.
The major change I made—to please Miriam—was no extra sugar. Many Japanese dressings and marinades include both mirin—sweetened rice wine—and sugar. In all of the dishes that I made this week, if the recipe called for mirin and sugar I left out the extra sugar.
After Dinner Note: Everyone loved this salad.
Karl’s Hijiki No Nimono (Hijiki and Carrot Salad)
¼ cup hijiki
2 lb. white, yellow, and orange heirloom carrots
1 Tbs. dark sesame oil
1 Tbs. vegetable oil
4 Tbs. light soy sauce
1 Tbs. saki
1 Tbs. mirin
1 green onion green parts only, thinly sliced
1. Put the hijiki in a small bowl, add cool water to cover by one inch, and soak them for 30 minutes.
Note: Some recipes recommend using warm water, but I do not think that it makes a difference.
2. Cut the carrots into 1½ x ⅛ matchsticks.
Tip: I used the shredder plate on my mandoline and held the carrots at a very steep angle.
3. Put the aburaage in a bowl and cover it with boiling water.
Tip: All of the Japanese recipes—that I have read—insist that this is a necessary step to wash off the excess oil and smell of the aburaage.
4. Pat the aburaage dry with paper towels and cut the tofu into ⅛ inch shreds.
5. Drain the seaweed well and mix them with the shredded carrots and aburaage.
6. Heat the oils in a medium sauté pan over medium heat and sauté the hijiki mixture for 2-3 minutes.
7. Mix the soy sauce, saki, and mirin in a small bowl and pour it over the contents of the pan.
Note: All of the recipes added extra sugar at this point.
8. Reduce the heat and simmer the vegetables until almost all of the liquid is evaporated.
9. Transfer the salad to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
10. Garnish with the green onions and serve chilled.