Friday, April 19, 2013

Hijiki Carrot & Ginger Salad

Hijiki is a highly nutritious versatile sea vegetable which grows wild in coastal areas of Asia.  Its name is translated as "deer-tail grass" or "sheep-nest grass". Seaweeds have long been staples in traditional Asian cuisine and are among the few wild foods to which westerners have access.

In its dried state, hijiki will keep well for many months and can be transformed into a delightful meal in minutes. Brief soaking is required before cooking to rehydrate the hijiki, which quadruples in volume as it absorbs water.  Photo above is hijiki before soaking, photo below after soaking.

Hijiki soaking technique:

Place hijiki in a fine meshed sieve and rinse briefly in cool water. Then place hijiki in a bowl with enough cool water to cover. After about ten minutes, strain the hijiki over a bowl,  reserving the soaking water for use in cooking. Gently squeeze the hijiki to remove more liquid. Some sediment will settle to to bottom of the soaking water.

Hijiki Carrot & Ginger Salad:

1/3 cup dried hijiki, soaked & drained
1 + tablespoons toasted sesame oil
3 tablespoons leek, green part ok
2 tablespoons fresh ginger root, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
4 large carrots, julienned
hijiki soaking water
1 + tablespoons tamari or soy sauce
1 teaspoon maple syrup

While hijiki is soaking, cut up the vegetables.  The green part of the leek adds color to the dish but onion is fine if no leeks are available.  The size of the carrot julienne will determine the length of the cooking time.

Heat oil in a heavy skillet and saute the leek slices for about two minutes on a moderate flame. (Olive oil, though not traditional, is fine if no sesame oil is on hand). Add ginger root, stir briefly then add garlic. Saute gently for another two minutes, then add carrots. A little more oil might be needed to cook the carrots. Continue sauteing for about four or five minutes, stirring occasionally.

When carrots are just tender,  stir in hijiki. Pour soaking water carefully into pan, leaving the sediment in the bowl. Add tamari and maple syrup, stir thoroughly and remove from heat. Turn vegetables into a ceramic bowl and allow to rest a few minutes before serving.

Hijiki salad is delicious served warm, room temperature or chilled. It can be prepared ahead of time and will keep well in the fridge for up to three days. Eat as is or garnish to your taste with fresh lemon or lime juice, toasted sesame seeds or a few drops of hot chile- sesame oil.