Creamy Polenta with fried tofu, Mehijiki and peanuts

© Qin Xie-Krieger

© Qin Xie-Krieger

During my last journey to Japan this seaweed vegetable, Mehijiki, appeared almost everywhere in the restaurants, be it in a metropolis like Tokyo, Osaka or Kyoto, or in small villages in the Takayama mountain area. At that time I did not know how it was named and what it was, until my Singaporean friend Lee Yuen brought me a packet of the dried Mehijiki a few weeks ago. I decided to make myself a little bit clever and googled for this little and funny looking vegetable. Many thanks to dear Lee Yuen, if you are reading this post now. 🙂

© Qin Xie-Krieger

© Qin Xie-Krieger

Mehijiki are the fine peaks of hijiki algae which grow wild on the rocky coasts in the area around Japan. It is a typical East Asian sea vegetable and a traditional food that has been eaten in Japan for centuries. In spring Mehijiki will be harvested by hand. Then the algae will be dried, steamed and dried again.

© Qin Xie-Krieger

© Qin Xie-Krieger

Mehijiki is rich in essential minerals such as Calcium (14 times more than milk), magnesium, iron (15 times more than spinach) and fiber. In Japan it is said that hijiki supports health and beauty, if you regularly eat it in small quantities. So girls, what are you still waiting for? 😉

© Qin Xie-Krieger

© Qin Xie-Krieger

Mehijiki tastes intensely like the sea and has a slightly spicy aftertaste, which I can hardly describe correctly. Because this vegetable is so healthy, I preferred to combine it with another very healthy food: tofu. A decent mirin and soy sauce completed this dish wonderfully. The roasted peanuts made for a crunchy bite. All of these yummy stuffs on top of creamy polenta.

After this meal I felt being fitter and more beautiful than ever. 😉

Ingredients:

For the polenta:
600ml water
1 tsp salt
2 tablespoons butter
120g corn semolina

For the topping:

300g fried tofu (Asia shop)
10g hijiki (Asia shop or online)
1 carrot
1 clove garlic (thinly sliced)
2 tablespoons mirin (Asia shop)
300ml soaking water of hijiki
2 tablespoons bright soy sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
2 tablespoons canola oil
Salt and pepper
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
2 tablespoons raw peanuts for roasting

Preparation:

  1. Heat the 2 tbsp canola oil in a pan over medium heat, roast peanuts until crispy. Remove from pan and chill on paper towels. Save the frying oil for later. Chop the chilled peanuts coarsely.
  2. For the polenta: bring water with salt in a pot to cook, add 1 tablespoon butter and allow to melt. Slowly trickle the corn semolina into the water, keep stirring constantly. Over medium heat cook for about 2 minutes. Then reduce the heat and simmer with covered lid for an additional 30 min. Stir occasionally. Remove the pan from the heat, add 1 tablespoon butter to the polenta and stir until the butter is completely absorbed by the polenta.
  3. For the topping: soak Mehijiki in 1l cold water for 30 minutes (the sea vegetables then increase their size by several times), then rinse thoroughly under running water and drain. Blanch Tofu with boiling water briefly to remove the oily taste of fried tofu. Cut tofu into small cubes. Peel the carrot, cut into thin short staves. In a pan, heat the peanut oil briefly, add the Mehijiki and carrots and fry for about 3 minutes. Deglaze with Mirin, pour in the hijiki soaking water, boil for 20 min. Add tofu and soy sauce, cook for further 5 minutes. Season with sesame oil, salt and pepper.
  4. Pour the polenta on a big plate, distribute Mehijiki tofu on the top of polenta. Garnish with roasted peanuts and parsley. Serve immediately.
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