Monday, July 19, 2010

Hijiki Hijinks

It may appear that I've been rather remiss with my blogging lately, dear reader. I was indulging in a little well-deserved (I hope) rest and relaxation while visiting my lovely sister and her family. Now, post talking, bonding, and flopping around in the North Carolinan surf, I've returned to my little nook in CA and am very much back to business as usual. Though I must confess to being almost permanently uncertain about what that even means. In any case, searching around in my addled brain for a meal I might produce that would be worthy of your perusal, I recalled a package of hijiki I picked up at a tiny story in the minimally famous town of Bodega, CA. As a quick sidenote, and to gratify your curiosity which has been most assuredly piqued by my insinuation that the town in question has any kind of claim to fame at all, I should add that some of the most famous scenes from The Birds were shot here. Specifically, Bodega, California, is the site of both the church and the schoolhouse (I believe) from that movie. Of course, living in this area of the country, we're practically swimming in Hitchcock memorabilia and filmic references, and the little store that is the point of origin of my inspirational hijiki, features a nice selection of framed movie stills, books about Hitchcock, and other such items. I should also add that I hadn't been looking to buy hijiki, or any kind of seaweed at all. I just stopped by, on a whim, as I was driving home from a lovely afternoon exploring the beaches of Sonoma State Park. I just can't walk by a reasonably-priced package of those delicious, dark green squiggles. 

Since I seem to be in the business of declaring to you all of my various preferences for one kind of thing or variety of thing over others, I hereby proclaim hijiki to be my favorite sea vegetable. My suspicion is that I might be mostly alone on this one. There simply isn't all that much hijiki eating that seems to go on, particularly when you consider the relative popularity of arame/wakame and nori, to their various purposes. I really enjoy the slight fishiness of hijiki. It also boasts a delightful texture and is perhaps singular among sea vegetables in its resiliency. By that I mean that it is certainly among the less likely to melt into a slippery unsubstantiality, even when added to a steaming bowl of miso soup.

As far as methods of preparation go, though, salad is really the best way to enjoy hijiki. I've made this salad a number of times, and I never measure anything. The following is my best estimation of how, approximately, to go about it, though I find hijiki both delicious and incredibly forgiving. I inadvertently made enough of this to feed the proverbial army, so unless you have an army to feed, I recommend reducing the portions accordingly. Though a cup of dried hijiki may not really look like all that much, know that it expands to 3 or four 4 times its starting size when soaked. Or just living off of it for a week, which is what I intend to do.

Hijiki Salad

1 small package dried hijiki (a bit over a cup)
1 pkg frozen edamame
4 small-medium carrots (grated)
toasted sesame oil
2 T prepared mustard (I used stoneground)
5 T rice vinegar

Put dry hijiki in a large bowl and cover with cold water. Let this sit for about 10 minutes, then drain and transfer hijiki to a saucepan. Cover with water again and bring just to a simmer. When the water is hot, add the frozen edamame and remove from heat. When the edamame are thawed, drain again, and transfer the hijiki/edamame mixture back to the large bowl. Add the carrots and toss well. In a small bowl, combine mustard and vinegar and pour over the vegetables. Season with sesame oil and Braggs to taste. Cover and chill at least an hour before serving.

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