Black and White Salad

Hijiki no Shira Aé

This soy-simmered black hijiki dressed in a creamy white tōfu sauce is both nutritious and tasty. Found on Japanese restaurant menus and home tables, Black and White Salad is particularly good when served with broiled or fried fish.

Ingredients

  • ¼ cup dried hijiki (black sea vegetable)
  • ½ tablespoon vegetable oil
  • ⅔-¾ cup dashi (basic sea stock)
  • 1 tablespoon saké (Japanese rice wine)
  • scant tablespoon sugar
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce

Dressing

  • ½ cake tōfu (bean curd), about 2 ounces
  • 2 tablespoons white sesame seeds
  • ½ teaspoon mirin (syrupy rice wine)
  • 1 teaspoon usukuchi shōyu (light soy sauce)
  • 1 teaspoon rice vinegar
  • pinch salt

Method

  1. Soak the dried sea vegetable in warm water to cover for 20-30 minutes. Drain, and set aside.
  2. Heat the oil in a skillet, and sauté the sea vegetable over high heat, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes. Lower the heat, add ¼ cup of the sea stock and the rice wine, and simmer for 6-7 minutes. (To achieve maximum flavor and best texture from the hijiki, it is important to cook this sea vegetable slowly, adding the wine, sugar, and soy in that order, bit by bit.)
  3. Add the sugar and ¼ cup more stock. Stir, and simmer for 6-7 minutes. Add the soy sauce and a few more spoonfuls of sea stock. Stir, and simmer for 7-8 minutes, or until the liquid is completely reduced and the sea vegetable looks glossy. Taste a piece; it should be tender, with a faint licorice flavor. If the sea vegetable seems tough, add a bit more stock and simmer for an additional 3-5 minutes. Remove the skillet from the heat, and let the sauté cool to room temperature.
  4. Blanch the bean curd in boiling water to cover for 1 minute, then drain. When it is cool enough to handle, place the bean curd in a fine-meshed cloth and squeeze out all moisture, mashing the bean curd to a smooth paste. Transfer the paste to a bowl.
  5. In a small dry skillet, toast the sesame seeds for 30-40 seconds, until they color ever so slightly and a few pop. Transfer the seeds to a clean, dry cutting board, and mince the sesame as you would parsley. Add the minced seeds to the bean curd paste.
  6. Season the bean curd mixture with the syrupy rice wine, light soy sauce, vinegar, and pinch of salt. Mix well. Drain the cooked sea vegetable, and pat away excess liquid with paper towels. Toss the drained sea vegetable in the white dressing, and mix well. Serve in small mounds, at room temperature or chilled.