Seaweed is a boon to anyone pressed for time in the kitchen. A basic introduction by way of seaweed broth, or kombu dashi, will prove that good, flavorful cooking stock need not simmer over a low flame for hours. In fact, in the Japanese kitchen, stock making may consume a mere ten minutes of a cook's time, and produce a broth that's rich in character. But seaweed goes well beyond soup -- I love including it in salads. This salad in particular, Hijiki Salad, is one of my favorites. Punctuated by crisp raw carrots, daikon and warm edamame, it's tossed in a spicy vinegar and soy sauce dressing and finished with a dollop of fresh ginger. It's traditionally spooned over warm rice, but I've found that farro offers a more flavorful and healthier substitute.
Living near the coast, I head out to the slippery rocks every so often and carefully gather fresh seaweed from the crags. It can easily be cleaned and dehydrated for storage. It can also be purchased at your local Asian grocer. Hijiki, in particular, grows on the rocky coastline of Japan, China and Korea. Rich in essential minerals, it's been a staple in American natural food stores since the 60's.
Hijiki and Warm Farro Salad
1 cup farro
1/2 cup dried hijiki
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
2 teaspoons mirin
2 teaspoons rice wine vinegar
1 teaspoon Siracha sauce
1/2 cup edamame beans, blanched and hulled
1/2 cup carrot, peeled and medium-diced
1/2 cup daikon, peeled and medium-diced
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
1 teaspoon fresh ground ginger
In a large pot, bring the farro and 4 cups of water to boil for 5 minutes. Adjust the heat down and simmer for 2 hours, or until the grains are chewy and tender. Strain and set aside.
In a large bowl, add the dried hijiki. Pour over enough warm water to cover and allow to sit for about 20-25 minutes. Drain and rinse the hijiki, returning it to a clean, dry bowl.
In a small bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, sesame oil, mirin, rice wine vinegar and siracha sauce.
In the bowl containing the hijiki, add the vegetables and the dressing, tossing to combine.
Serve the dressed hijiki salad in bowls atop warm farro. I like to add another spoonful or so of the dressing, then sprinkle with sesame seeds and a dollop of fresh ginger.