Kombu, or kelp, is a type of edible seaweed used frequently in Japanese cuisine. It is a key ingredient in the making of dashi, the fundamental Japanese soup stock, and helps enhance the umami, or savoury taste, of other dishes.
Where does kombu come from?
Kombu seaweed is typically harvested from the cold waters of the Pacific Ocean and the Sea of Japan. It has a distinctive, broad, and flat shape with a rich, dark green colour.
To make dashi, dried kombu is simmered in hot water, often with bonito flakes and/or shiitake mushrooms, to infuse a unique umami flavour into the liquid.
Kombu dashi serves as the perfect base for miso soup, noodle broths, and a wide range of Japanese dishes.
Kombu is also used outside Japanese cookery, particularly in vegetarian and vegan dishes, as it can be used to supply umami in the absence of meat-based broths.