Japanese Fried Rice with Edamame and Hijiki

1st December 2014

I hope everyone had a FAB Thanksgiving! Did you celebrate Thanksgiving? Was it easy to celebrate it with omnivores? It’s a nice time of year to be around family but it can be a stressful and challenging time of year for many. We had a splendid Thanksgiving feast this year, we had a vegan Thanksgiving with six hungry omnivores and all dishes were made vegan including the gravy and dessert.

Vegan Thanksgiving

I made the Mushroom & Farro Risotto & two Pumpkin Pies (after a few attempts the week before to perfect my recipe, using just kudzu starch). Doni’s Dad made the rest and Doni’s sister made the wonderful salad. And do you know what the most popular snack before dinner was? The Vtopian Maple Seitan Cheese Ball! So good but it went way too quickly with everyone snacking on it.

Vegan Thanksgiving

For Thanksgiving, in order, we had:

Butternut Squash & Potato Soup with Crispy Sage
Kale & Apple Salad with Walnut Vinaigrette
Apple-Orange Cranberry Sauce
Shiitake-Oyster Mushroom & Farro Risotto in Red Wine Sauce
Sourdough Stuffing with Hazelnuts & Herbs
Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes with Black Truffle
Herbs & Mushroom Gravy
Oven-Roasted Cauliflowers with Crunchy Topping & Raisins
Perfect Coconut-Based Pumpkin Pie (made with Kudzu Starch)

Vegan Japanese Fried Rice

Just prior to Thanksgiving I was playing around with a few recipe ideas and knowing that we had such a massive Western feast on the horizon, I was craving something Asian. So before Thanksgiving I decided to test out a special Japanese fried rice dish. We’re a household that eats rice multiple times a week. We love rice and have no problem with plain rice of any variety but it’s always refreshing to find new rice dishes. This has quickly become one of my favorites and one I look forward to making again soon.

Vegan Japanese Fried Rice

The pre-Thanksgiving dish that I’m excited to share today is vegan Japanese Fried Rice with Edamame and Hijiki. Served with shredded carrots for added texture, this fried rice is earthy, crunchy, savory and just a bit sweet. With a few simple yet delicious ingredients this dish comes together very easily. It has a unique flavor profile for a fried rice due to the addition of mirin, which helps to sweeten and balance the flavors so it’s incredibly easy to eat and lovely leftover. The flavors in this dish are a traditional Japanese combination and really play off one another well.

Vegan Japanese Fried Rice

My Japanese Fried Rice with Edamame and Hijiki was admittedly inspired by Trader Joe’s Japanese Style Fried Rice, available in the freezer section. But my homemade version has a fresher flavor and better texture overall. I recommend using a hot wok or a flat griddle to achieve a crispier texture. I used Meatless Select’s Vegetarian Fishless Tuna (13-oz) for the fried rice and it worked perfectly for the dish after taking a few steps to prepare the protein.

For best results, the Vegetarian Fishless Tuna needs to be drained and slightly dried before adding it to the rice. There are a number of ingredients you can use as a substitute for the Vegetarian Fishless Tuna, including fried or baked tofu, tempeh or deep-fried tofu skin known as the ‘Aburaage’ (油揚げ).

Meatless Select Vegetarian Fishless Tuna

The Meatless Select’s Vegetarian Fishless Tuna is a bit of a quirky ingredient. We really enjoyed it, it was easy to use, has a long shelf life and it worked exceptionally well in this dish. But I don’t really consider Tuna to be the most accurate description for this soy protein. It reminded me of these canned vegetarian gluten and peanut condiments found in China and Taiwan and popular with porridge. There was a bit of a funk to the aroma, but I never really got the impression it was fishy.

The flavor was sweet and somewhat salty and the texture a bit spongy, so we knew we wanted to dry it out before using it. After opening the can and draining the liquid we spread the Vegetarian Fishless Tuna on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Preheat the oven to 200°F and bake the Vegetarian Fishless Tuna for 45 minutes. Once the Vegetarian Fishless Tuna was partially dried, it was ready to use. This product makes a great addition to stir fries and rice dishes, but I wouldn’t recommend it for dishes like tuna salad or other creamy, wet dishes because the protein itself is rather soft and soggy to begin with.

Note: After trying the Meatless Select Vegetarian Taco Filling in our Vegan Cuts May 2014 Snack Box and being reasonably impressed, the lovely folks at Atlantic Natural Foods sent us a variety of Meatless Select products to try for free. Check out our other posts using Meatless Select.

Dried Hijiki

Hijiki is a type of black Japanese seaweed that comes in small strands so it almost resembles loose tea. The thicker, coarse texture makes it pleasantly crunchy and delivers earthy, saltwater flavors. Hijiki is usually sold dried and is available in most Asian markets and natural or health food stores including Whole Foods and Amazon.com. In Japan it is widely used in homes more often than in restaurants. It provides a lovely, rich flavor and color to dishes and works wonderfully in broths.

Reconstituted Hijiki

To reconstitute, soak in a bowl of lukewarm water for 30 minutes to an hour, drain, rinse under cold water several times to remove any impurities before use. If you are in a hurry, blanch it for couple of minutes in a boiling water. When reconstituted, they expand 3 times after being reconstituted in water, so don’t use too much hijiki. Keep for only 2-3 days in the refrigerator (or longer if the dish is reheated).

Another traditional use for Hijiki is to place them in hot dashi stock with soy sauce and stew with an assortment of vegetables. It can also be used in salads and stir fries.

Reconstituted Hijiki

Japanese Fried Rice with Edamame and Hijiki

Japanese Fried Rice with Edamame and Hijiki (Vegan + GF)

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

For best results, the Meatless Select's Vegetarian Fishless Tuna needs to be drained and slightly dried before adding it to the rice. There are a number of ingredients you can use as a substitute for the Vegetarian Fishless Tuna, including fried or baked tofu, tempeh or deep-fried tofu skin known as the ‘Aburaage.’

Ingredients

1 (13-ounce) can Meatless Select Vegetarian Fishess Tuna, drained (see above)
½ ounce dried hijiki (about ¼ cup)
2 tablespoons oil, preferably rice bran or canola
6 cups day-old cooked Japanese short-grain rice, at room temperature
1 large carrot, peeled and cut in 2-inch-long julienne (about 4 ounces)
1 cup frozen edamame, thawed
3 tablespoons tamari, more to taste
3 tablespoons mirin (sweet rice wine)
½ teaspoon white pepper
2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
Salt to taste (about 1 teaspoon)
1 tablespoon sesame seeds for garnish (optional)

Method

Spread the Fishless Tuna on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Preheat the oven to 200°F and bake the Fishless Tuna for 45 minutes until slightly dried out. Meanwhile soak dried hijiki in a bowl of cold water (about 3 cups) for an hour, drain using a fine-meshed sieve or colander, rinse under cold water several times to remove any impurities before use.

Heat a wok or large sauté pan over high heat. Add oil and swirl to coat the sides of the pan. When the oil is hot, add the carrots and Fishes Tuna and stir-fry for 2 minutes. Add the hijiki and edamame, continue to stir-fry for another 3 minutes until the carrots are tender.

Add the rice. Use a big fork or the end of metal spatula to break up any clumps until it is heated through. Be sure to scrape the bottom of the wok with your spatula to prevent the rice from sticking. Immediately add the tamari, mirin, pepper, sesame oil and salt into the rice. Continue to break the rice and cook for another 5 to 7 minutes until hot and separated. Taste, and season with salt and pepper and additional tamari if needed. Garnish with sesame seeds.

Notes

Advance Preparation: It will keep for a week in the refrigerator. They are great leftovers. The hijiki can be prepared in advance (Step 1) and stored in an airtight container for at least 2-3 days.

Japanese Fried Rice with Edamame and Hijiki

Have you worked with hijiki before or what is your favorite fried rice recipe?

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