You may, at one time or another, when walking on the shore, have come across a variety of large, ribbon-like seaweed cast up on the shore, possibly with the olive-green fronds still attached to a thick, rope-like stem. For years, I knew the basic type simply as ‘Kelp’ but, point of fact, that name actually includes a whole range of very different seaweeds (many of which are edible) and the sort you see pictured above is more properly referred to by its Japanese name ‘Kombu’ ( or, less frequently, ‘Konbu’).
This edible algae (of which there are a number of different varieties) is not widely used in western cuisines but it is very popular indeed in the far east. It is harvested and eaten in Korea, and used to a lesser extent by the Chinese, but it is in Japanese cookery where the seaweed really shines. Indeed, Kombu is more than an occasional ingredient; it is an essential item in the Japanese pantry and, as we shall see below, is a foundation stone in the cuisine as a whole… Continue reading “Edible Seaweed: Kombu (and How to make Kombu Dashi)”