What is hijiki?

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Hijiki is a seaweed or sea vegetable that grows in the coastal areas of Japan and neighboring countries of Korea and northern parts of China. As a food item that is sourced from the sea, hijiki has been traditionally used in Japan in preparing various meals.  As a country, Japan is known to love almost anything that is considered seafood with hijiki being one of them.  Many vegetable and fish-based dishes in Japan are served with this favorite and popular seaweed.

Most hijiki can be sourced from Japanese markets in the form of dried leaves. The best thing about this seaweed is that it just needs to be rehydrated with water in the form of soaking.  Once soaked, hijiki provides a similar texture to noodles, and this is why many Japanese mix them with other protein-rich dishes such as fish meat and vegetables. Sushi, for example, can perfectly be served along with hijiki. With its noodle-like appearance and texture, hijiki is also widely used in making salads.  The best thing about hijiki is its mild flavor making it a great ingredient to mix with other ingredients.  Mixing it with rice or sushi, for example, complements the taste and adds to the overall meal texture rather than overpowering the flavor.

Being a food item sourced naturally from the sea, some Japanese consider hijiki a health food.  It contains lots of fiber which is said to aid in proper digestion.  Its protein and calcium content is also said to promote good teeth and bone health.  Hijiki also contains other nutrients including iron among many others, and this is especially good news for people with iron-deficiency or anemia.  Some food experts, though, put some caution in terms of hijiki consumption.  This is because this seaweed may also contain high levels of the substance called arsenic which could be toxic to the body.  Studies have shown that high levels of inorganic arsenic may lead to the development of cancers and illnesses involving internal organs including the intestines and the liver.

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