Hijiki Seaweed Salad

I've been looking for some good seaweed salad recipes lately for my good friend Mr O. and came across this hijiki seaweed salad. The plan was to make it and take photos, but the recipe calls for cucumber and celery neither of which can be found in the village in winter time. After dealing with many many kilograms of cucumbers last summer, I'm happy to wait for another few months so it actually worked out quite well! The closest thing I could think of was tofu seeing as it's cool and refreshing and it was great. Here's the real recipe though, it should be just as good if not better! Oh, and if you're wondering about the funny shape of the tofu, it's because I forgot to take the photo before we started eating it.

10g dried hijiki
1 cucumber
1/2 stick of celery
as many toasted sesame seeds as you like

1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon each of
soy sauce
vegetable oil (I used olive oil)
pinch of salt

To Make:
1. soak hijiki in warm water until soft, blanch, and drain.
2. slice cucumber and celery finely, soak in iced water and drain.
3. mix dressing ingredients together
4. mix it all together and sprinkle sesame seeds on top.

So simple! And if you believe everything you read on the packet, hijiki is very good for you - it's apparently high in iron, calcium, magnesium and fibre. Nice.


(Belated) Happy New Year!

Back in June last year about a week after we moved to the village, our neighbour got up at the crack of dawn, de-shrouded his geriatric tractor and started ploughing up the garden right outside our bedroom window. I was pretty unimpressed because the first I'd heard of the whole scheme was the tractor roaring round the corner of the house that morning. Y. spent the next three days telling me how lucky we were because that would normally cost 5000 yen, while I helped to plant the green soybeans (edamame) that our neighbour had decided we needed to grow because they're a great snack to have with beer. Still struggling with the local dialect, I misunderstood my instructions and planted only one seedling per hole instead of two, and so spent the next week being alternately ridiculed and scolded by our neighbour at least twice a day.

Against all odds the beans battled their way through life, and by October we were eating them! We ate some when they were still young, boiling them with a little salt and eating them, yes, as a snack with beer. (No beer for us breastfeeding mothers of course though!) Any we couldn't finish we left to dry on the bush, then picked them, shelled them, dried them in the sun and put them away for winter. I wrote about it briefly in this post. By the end of the month they were safely away in the cupboard. But what next? I had a feeling there was a pretty good chance that the next time we'd see them would be in six year's time when we pulled them out from the back of the cupboard in an unrecognisable state.

Well, this year I decided to have a go at cooking Japanese New Year's food. It always looks very fancy and is arranged in tiered boxes. There are all sorts of things that tend to go in these boxes, with Kazu no Ko, roe of the Pacific herring, being one of the staples. We found out that around here instead of leaving the roe whole which is what I've usually seen, they break it up and mix them with soaked and boiled green soy beans. Hooray! What exciting news!

So here it is, New Year's Herring Roe with Beans by Us! Not all that pretty, but it was very yummy and helped fill up the empty spaces in the boxes. And for once in my life, I've seen something through right to the bitter end. Not a bad way to start the New Year!