Hijiki seaweed 鹿尾菜

Hijiki is a highly nutritious sea vegetable that is usually sold dry, but when soaked in water expands into a fleshy mild-tasting seaweed that can be added to salads and soups. Hijiki is an important ingredient in macrobiotic cooking because of the high dietary fibre and also the large amount of trace elements such as calcium, iron and magnesium. In Australia, the import of hijiki has been banned by the Agriculture Dept because it has traces of arsenic. However, in my opinion this has been an over-reaction because hijiki has been used for centuries in Japan, even as medicine, with no apparent adverse effects. In fact, the Japanese government responded to the Australian ban by saying that only very small quantities of hijiki are eaten in a meal and there is no need for alarm. I still buy hijiki when I am in Japan and I have no trouble bringing it into Australia for personal consumption. I also have friends send it to me by post and have no problems with Customs. I highly recommend hijiki as a healthy and delicious food that is great in salads and soups, but as with all thing, moderation is the key.