Most Westerners agree that hijiki is the tastiest sea vegetable used in Japanese cuisine. Black and lustrous, its licorice-like flavor combines well with sweet carrot strips. The Japanese often add thin ribbons of fried bean curd to this dish for extra volume and texture contrast. Either way, this makes a colorful and flavorful side dish to any meal.
Soak the dried black sea vegetable in warm water to cover for about 15–20 minutes. Since it will soften and swell to many times its original volume, use a fairly large bowl. Rinse in cold water and drain. Cut into approximately 1-inch-long pieces and pat them dry. Peel the carrot and cut it into julienne strips. If using fried bean curd, pour boiling water over it to remove excess oil. Pat the bean curd dry with paper towels before slicing it crosswise into thin ribbons.
Heat the oil in a skillet and sauté the sea vegetable and carrot strips, stirring constantly, for about 2 minutes. Add the soup stock and seasonings, and braise the mixture over moderate heat for 15–18 minutes (if using fried bean curd, add it after 10–12 minutes) or until most of the liquid has been reduced. Serve warm or at room temperature. Any leftovers will keep well for 3–4 days covered in the refrigerator.
© 1986 Elizabeth Andoh. All rights reserved.