If you have not tried hijiki seaweed before, this is a great recipe to get you started. This intriguing seaweed grows wild in the rocky coastlines of Japan, China and Korea. It has a distinct mineral flavour of the sea, and is traditionally paired with carrots and deep-fried abura-age tofu as in this rice recipe.
- Yield: 4 Servings
- 12 fl oz/1½ cups (350 ml) Primary Dashi or 350 ml (12 fl oz/1½ cups) dashi prepared from a good-quality dashi infusion bag or lastly from 1½ tsp instant dashi powder dissolved in 350 ml (12 fl oz/1½ cups) hot water
- ½oz (15 g) dried hijiki seaweed
- 11 oz/1¾ cups (320 g) shortgrain white rice
- 2-3 pieces of abura-age tofu (available in Japanese grocery stores or online)
- 1 small carrot
- 1½fl oz/3 tbsp (40 ml) mirin
- 1½fl oz/3 tbsp (40 ml) light soy sauce (usukuchi shoyu)
- ½ tbsp granulated sugar
- 1 tbsp toasted sesame oil, optional
- 2 spring onion (scallion) stems, sliced thinly on the diagonal
- Make the Primary Dashi or dashi stock with a dashi infusion bag or instant powder. Soak the hijiki in a bowl of warm water for at least 30 minutes, then drain and set aside.
- Wash the rice in a bowl with plenty of fresh water using a circular motion with your hand. Drain the water and repeat 3 or 4 times until the water runs clear. Transfer the rice to a sieve (strainer) and let it drain for 15 minutes. Cut the aburaage tofu into thin 4-cm (1½-inch) long slices. Peel and slice the carrot into julienne sticks about the same size as the abura-age. Set both aside.
- Make the cooking broth by combining the dashi stock, mirin, soy sauce and sugar in a bowl, and mix well until the sugar is completely dissolved. Next, add the rice to the cooking broth and soak the rice in this mixture for 30 minutes. Rice cooker method
- When the soaking time is up, add the rice and soaking liquid to the rice cooker bowl, top with the drained hijiki, carrots and abura-age, but do not mix the ingredients into the rice at this stage as this will stop the rice from cooking evenly. Close the lid and turn the rice cooker on. It should take approximately 20 minutes to cook. Once the rice cooker’s alarm beeps, let the rice rest in the unopened rice cooker for at least 15 minutes before opening the lid. Pan and hob (stove) method
- Choose a pan with a tightly fitting lid (preferably of glass) and with a small ventilation hole for some of the steam to escape. When the soaking time is up, add the rice and soaking liquid to the pan, top with the hijiki, carrots and abura-age, but do not stir them into the rice. Place the lid on and bring to the boil (a glass lid will allow you to see when the water comes to the boil). As soon as it boils, turn the heat to its lowest setting and simmer gently for 15 minutes. Do not remove the lid at any stage during cooking or resting. Take off the heat and let the rice rest for 15 minutes before removing the lid.
- When the rice is ready, drizzle the toasted sesame oil, if using, over the rice. Use a wooden or plastic spatula to mix and fluff the rice with the other ingredients. Use a slicing motion to turn the rice and ingredients together, making sure not to mush the rice. Serve immediately with the sliced spring onion (scallions) on top.