Sunday, July 12, 2009

Steamed Rice with Hijiki Seaweed (Hijiki Gohan)

Steamed Rice with Hijiki SeaweedWhen I came to New York City for the first time in the early 90’s, eating healthy Asian food was already a boom among yuppies. I found out numbers of trendy restaurants serving seaweed, including hijiki, and other exotic Asian foods. However, I had noticed that many chefs were still learning and experimenting on how to cook using such ingredients. I realized that when I tried some tasteless hijiki because it had not been soaked or spiced enough by the chef. This happened in one of the most stylish restaurants in New York City.

Lately, not only professional chefs but also many regular people are already familiar with these Asian vegetables and food items. When I discovered a delicious hijiki salad, which was prepared by a non-Asian and non-professional cook, in a potluck party in New York City, I was amazed and pleased at that same time.

Hijiki is a kind of seaweed and it is an ultra nutritious food item. It is very rich in calcium. Actually, it contains 10 times more calcium than whole milk. Also, it is an excellent source for iron. It has 5 times more iron than chicken livers. In addition, it is high in dietary fiber.

Using a rice cooker, this dish of steamed rice with hijiki seaweed is extremely easy and healthy. If you do not have a rice cooker, use a large pot and cook and steam the rice along with the other ingredients. This dish also contributes a nice color opportunity to your table.
Shiitake MushroomsIngredients (4 servings):
2 cups rice
1 carrot
2 tablespoons of hijiki (seaweed)
¼ cup of fresh/frozen soybeans (or fresh/frozen baby lima beans)
2-4 dried/fresh shiitake mushrooms
2 tablespoons of soy sauce
1 tablespoon of mirin (rice wine without alcohol)
1 tablespoon of sake (famous Japanese rice wine)A pinch of sugar

Chopped CarrotDirections:
1. Wash the rice and put it in the rice cooker. Add 1½ cups of water.
2. Soak the hijiki seaweed in cold water for about 30 minutes (or follow the instructions on the hijiki package). Drain it well.
3. If you use dried shiitake mushrooms, soak them in cold water for about 30 minutes (or follow the instructions on their package). Drain them well. Cut off their stems. Chop them into small cubes.
4. Chop the carrot into small pieces.
The mixture5. If frozen soybeans or frozen baby lima beans are to be used, defrost them.
6. Put the chopped carrot, soaked hijiki seaweed, the beans, the chopped shiitake mushrooms, soy sauce, mirin, sake and sugar in the rice cooker. Mix them well with the rice.
7. Cook them in a rice cooker or a large pot. Serve them hot!

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