I always order hijiki salad when I’m at an izakaya, about to toast the end of a workday. I love the classic Japanese combination of sweet and umami, and the tender carrots and seaweed. Making this traditional Japanese otsumami at home is very easy – it can be made with just 10 ingredients and be ready to serve in under an hour.
What is Hijiki?
Hijiki (ヒジキ) is a brown seaweed that grows around the rugged coastlines of Japan, Korea, and China. The seaweed is high in calcium, iron, magnesium, and other essential minerals, and has been used in Japanese cooking for centuries.
The most common hijiki dish is hijiki no nimono – a combination of hijiki, soybeans, konjac, aburaage, and sliced carrot simmered in dashi, soy sauce, sake, mirin, and sugar. It’s served as a side dish or as otsumami, which are small dishes offered with beer and other alcoholic beverages, similar to Spanish tapas.
Where to Buy Hijiki
Hijiki is sold in dry form and can be found in Japanese and Korean supermarkets, and sometimes in Southeast Asian and Chinese grocery stores. It’s usually located in the seaweed aisle and comes in small bags. It can also be purchased online, such as here on Amazon.
Ingredients for Hijiki Salad (Hijiki No Nimono)
- Hijiki seaweed: Hijiki is quite different than other seaweed in that the pieces are thin and short, almost like little worms. Hijiki itself isn’t very flavorful which is why it’s simmered in sauce or served in salads, to take on other flavors. The seaweed must be soaked and rehydrated before it can be used.
- Oil: Any neutral oil such as vegetable or grapeseed works here. We only need a little bit to saute the carrots and other ingredients.
- Carrot: The julienned carrot adds a little sweetness and a nice vibrant pop of color.
- Aburaage: Both aburaage and inariage can be used. The difference between the two is that aburaage are plain deep fried tofu pouches, while inariage are deep fried tofu pouches that have been soaked in a mixture of soy sauce, mirin, and sugar.
- Edamame beans: Since I didn’t have traditional soybeans to make this nimomo, I’ve used edamame beans which are just as good (and prettier too!).
- Dashi: Dashi adds a briny element to this salad which pairs nicely with the mineral taste of seaweed.
- Soy sauce: For a dash of umami and saltiness.
- Sake: Sake adds a little fruitiness and sweetness.
- Mirin: Mirin is similar to sake but sweeter.
- Sugar: Plain white sugar or brown sugar can be used.
How to Make Hijiki Salad
- Gather all of your kitchen tools and ingredients.
- Rehydrate the hijiki by placing it in a bowl and soaking it in water for 3o minutes. Drain it and set aside.
- Put the oil and julienned carrot in a small or medium pot and turn the heat to medium.
- Saute the carrot slices for 1 minute and add the hijiki, aburaage, and edamame beans. Saute for 2 minutes and stir in the dashi, soy sauce, sake, mirin, and sugar.
- Bring to a boil and lower the heat to a bubbling simmer, and cook for 15-20 minutes, or until most of the liquid has evaporated, with about 20% remaining.
- Turn the heat off and transfer the hijiki to a bowl and divide into 10 servings. Serve.
Hijiki and Arsenic – How Much is it Safe to Consume?
While hijiki has been consumed for centuries in Japan and is considered a healthy food, the US, Canada, and UK food safety agencies are on the fence about its consumption due to the fact that it contains traces of inorganic arsenic.
Inorganic arsenic is considered a carcinogenic and consuming too much can lead to gastrointestinal issues such as diarrhea and abdominal pain, as well as liver damage.
However, the Japanese Ministry of Health and Labor has said that consumption under 4.7g per day, which is well above what Japanese people consume, is completely safe (the average consumption being around 0.9g per day in Japan).
What this basically means is that eaten in moderation, hijiki seaweed is safe since the arsenic levels consumed are too minor to have harmful effects.
What to Serve with Hijiki Salad
Since hijiki salad comes in very small serving sizes (otsumami size), it goes without saying that you can’t make a meal out of it. However, it makes a wonderful addition to bento boxes and traditional Japanese dinners. Here are some of my favorite Japanese dishes that I like to pair with this salad:
- Miso soup
- Nasu dengaku (broiled eggplant with sweet miso glaze)
- Hiyayakko (chilled tofu with various toppings)
- Yaki onigiri (grilled rice balls)
- Shrimp tempura
How to Store Hijiki Salad
Store hijiki salad in a storage container or bowl covered with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 3-4 days. You can also freeze hijiki salad but make sure to drain as much of the liquid as you can to prevent the ingredients from getting soggy and mushy.
To thaw, leave the salad in the fridge overnight before eating or reheating, if you prefer it warm.
Did you like this Hijiki Salad Recipe? Are there changes you made that you would like to share? Share your tips and recommendations in the comments section below!Print
Hijiki Salad (Izakaya Style)
Making this traditional Japanese otsumami at home is very easy – it can be made with just 10 ingredients and be ready to serve in under an hour.
- Prep Time: 5 minutes
- Cook Time: 15 minutes
- Total Time: 20 minutes
- Yield: 4 1x
- Category: Side
- Method: Boiling
- Cuisine: Japanese
- Diet: Low Calorie
- 20g dried hijiki seaweed
- 1 teaspoon neutral oil such as vegetable or grapeseed
- 1/2 small carrot (about 30g), julienned (cut into thin strips)
- 1 or 2 sheets aburaage or inariage, cut into strips
- 1/4 cup edamame beans
- 150ml dashi broth
- 2 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1/2 tablespoon sake
- 1 tablespoon mirin
- 1 1/2 tablespoon sugar
- Place the hijiki in a bowl and fill it with water. Leave for 30 minutes to rehydrate.
- Drain the hijiki well and set aside.
- In a small or medium size pot over medium heat, add the oil and carrot sticks. Cook for 1 minute and add the hijiki, aburaage and edamame beans.
- Cook for 2 minutes and add the dashi, soy sauce, sake, mirin, and sugar. Stir and bring to a boil.
- Lower the heat to a bubbling simmer and cook for 15-20 minutes, or until there is barely any broth left at the bottom of the pot.
- Turn the heat off, transfer the hijiki to a bowl and divide into 10 servings. Serve.
Storing leftover hijiki salad: Refrigerate for up to 3-4 days in a container with a lid.
Freezing hijiki salad: Drain as much of the broth as possible before freezing to prevent the texture from getting mushy. Freeze in a storage bag or airtight container. Defrost overnight in the fridge before eating or reheating.
- Serving Size: 1 small side
- Calories: 156
- Sugar: 15.5g
- Sodium: 711.4mg
- Fat: 4.5g
- Saturated Fat: 0.5g
- Unsaturated Fat: 1.8g
- Trans Fat: 0g
- Carbohydrates: 23.2g
- Fiber: 1.9g
- Protein: 5.4g
- Cholesterol: 0mg
Keywords: seaweed, nimono, side