Hijiki no Gomokuni
I heard that there is no other country where seaweed is consumed as much as in Japan. Actually, many kinds of seaweeds are regularly eaten in Japan, such as nori, konbu, hijiki, and so on…
Today, I’m introducing a very common make-ahead dish using hijiki seaweed. Hijiki is popular among health-conscious people especially those who are concerned about their beauty. Of course, I’m a big fan of this seaweed as well!
Hijiki contains abundant minerals such as calcium, iron, magnesium, and it also contains a lot of fiber, vitamin B1 and B2. Although hijiki smells a bit like the sea, it doesn’t have a strong flavor, so it’s easy to use for many dishes.
The name of this dish is ひじきの五目煮 (hijiki no gomokuni). I know many people who are learning the Japanese language. If you are one of them, you may know these basic kanji 五目. You might think “five eyes in the dish!”. Don’t be worried! 五目 is abbreviation of 五品目 (gohinmoku) that means five items. So if you see these kanji 五目 in the name of dishes, it means that five ingredients are used for the dish. When you see 煮 (ni) in the name of dishes, It means this dish is simmered.
Hijiki is the main ingredient in this dish. There is no specific rule for the other four ingredients. Other ingredients are different from family to family. I usually use boiled soybeans, carrot, shitake mushrooms and aburaage. Abraage is thinly sliced deep-fried tofu. It’s often added to Japanese soup such as miso soup or simmered dishes because it adds a rich flavor to them. Aburaage also absorbs soup well, so it becomes soft and juicy.
I often make this dish and preserve it in the refrigerator for 3 to 5 days. It’s very convenient to add one more side dish to our daily meals and bento. It’s also high in nutrients.
You’ll see a unique Japanese lid called otoshi-buta or drop lid in this cooking process. This lid should be smaller than a pan and directly placed on top of the ingredients. In the Japanese way of cooking, a large quantity of soup is not needed to make a simmered dish, although the ingredients should be covered by the liquid. This special lid keeps the ingredients from floating to the surface of the soup. Also, the lid prevents the boiling soup from rising up. Because of this, the soup can circulate in the pan efficiently. This helps the soup soak evenly into the rest of the ingredients. So the otoshi-buta is very important for Japanese cooking. You will probably see this lid in other recipes on my blog in the future.
Otoshi-buta is originally made of wood, but nowadays otoshi-buta made from stainless steel and silicone are also available. You can substitute aluminum foil or baking paper for them. When you use these substitutions, make some small holes on them.
I hope you’ll give hijiki a try!
Thank you for allowing me to share my recipe with you. I hope to see you again soon!
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