My first exposure to Hijiki sea vegetable was on ANA Japanese airplane. It came in a small dish along with other small dishes in a set meal. It think it was just a seasoned hikiji salad. The shape and size was unlike any sea vegetables that I tasted and I actually liked it. My girls said it looked like little black worms. Hehe... Then, I read some where that the ancient Chinese practitioners actually used Hikiji as one of the prescriptions for low iodine. Interesting right?
Hijiki is a brown sea algae that cultivated in Japan, China and Korea. Then, it was boiled and dried to be sold as dried hijiki, the color turned black when dried. It is a rich source of iodine, calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium and soluble fiber. Because it has 10 times the calcium of milk, Japanese eat it for the calcium intake and overall balanced diet. All sea vegetables are low in calories and contains many minerals that our bodies need. I read that seaweed can detoxify and convert the toxic metals in our bodies to harmless salts which then pass through the body's intestinal tract.
One drawback that I read about Hijiki seaweed is it contained inorganic arsenic and might cause cancer if consume in a large amount. But there is no ban and no known illnesses associated with consuming hijiki seaweed to date and the Japanese have been eating this as part of a balanced diet for centuries. You can read more about it here. United Kingdom, Hong Kong, New Zealand and Canada have issued a warning on hijiki seaweed. I think the health benefits out weight the negative as it's impossible to consume this in large amount anyway and I only cook it once in every two weeks and used it as an extra for mushrooms or noodle dish. I put some in Japchae and it was delicious.
By the way, I think it looks like Chinese "Fai Chai", the one that looks like black hair that Chinese consume during Chinese New Year because of it's auspicious meaning.
Fresh oyster mushrooms and fresh Shiitake mushrooms
Hijiki dried seaweed in 2 oz. packet
- Fresh oyster mushrooms (about 6-8oz), rinse
- Fresh shiitake mushrooms (about 6oz), rinse and cut into half
- 2 Tbsp. dried hijiki seaweed, soak in water, rinse and drain
- 2 cloves of garlic, mince
- 2 pieces of napa cabbage, wash and cut into small pieces
- 1/2 Tbsp. toasted sesame seeds
- Oyster sauce to taste (about 1-2 Tbsp.) Use vegetarian oyster sauce for vegan/vegetarian.
- 1/2 tsp. cane sugar
How it looks like after reconstituted in water
1. Heat up your wok, when heated, add in some canola oil. When warm, add in garlic, fry until fragrant. Add in oyster mushrooms, stir-fry well.
2. Add in shiitake mushroom, mix well and cover. Let the mushrooms sweat and release liquid. Uncover, add in napa cabbage, hijiki and oyster sauce, stir-fry well.
3. Add in sugar and mix well.
4. Serve on a plate and garnish the top with toasted sesame seeds.