March 「Hijiki」

 ひじきDuring the Joumon era to now, the hijiki was used as an offering to the gods. Hijiki is a type of seaweed that can be acquired during the spring season from March to around May. The hijiki is processed by being dried, stewed, and dried again to be shipped to supermarkets.

Although the hijiki we see on the dinner table is black, when it is harvested, it is yellowish brown. During the processing stage, the hijiki is stewed twice before drying again. The first time changes color from brownish to dark green, and after the second time, it turns black. The length of hijiki alters from around 50cm to 100cm, and is harvested by divers. In Japan, Nagasaki, Chiba, and Mie prefectures are the most well known hijiki producers.

There are three major types of hijikis. The most popular is is the “Bud-Hijiki” where the edible part is the leaves of the seaweed. The “Long-Hijiki” is the stem part of the seaweed. Finally, the “Early-Hijiki” where it is harvested earlier (in the winter) than the other ones.

Hijiki is very rich in nutrients where half of it is dietary fiber. It also contains six times the amount of iron in liver meat, and twelve times the amount of calcium contained in milk. Calcium is a necessary nutrient for children who are still growing up in order to form strong bones and teeth. Another nutrient included is the Vitamin A which keeps your skin healthy. Most importantly, the dietary fiber keeps your diet healthy by supporting healthy body cycles. The hijiki allows you to obtain nutrients that are usually difficult to take in.

The high nutrient hijiki is known for the phrase “If you eat hijiki, you will live long”, and September fifteenth, being the elder’s day is also known as the hijiki day.

Hijiki is usually handled as dried food. So you can preserve it for a very long time. It is also true that by using hijiki in many dishes, it adds a certain depth to the flavor. These dishes include tofu hamburgers, and egg rolls. You can also add hijiki with white rice which is a very tasty way of having flavored rice. Why not try some unique recipes using hijiki?

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