Kombu (昆布 konbu) is edible kelp widely consumed in East Asia. Japanese kombu is cultivated mostly in Hokkaido (北海道) and used quite extensively in Japanese cooking.
- Sold dried (dashi kombu) and used to make Japanese soup stock called Dashi.
- Pickled in vinegar (su kombu) or as a dried shred (boro kombu or shiraga kombu) to be consumed directly.
- Used to decorate Japanese dishes such as sashimi and sushi.
- Used in tsukudani (佃煮), a dish that is simmered in soy sauce and mirin to infuse flavor into Kombu.
You can purchase good quality kombu from here that ships internationally.
Different Types of Kombu
there are different types of kombu.
- Ma Kombu (真昆布)
- Rishiri Kombu (利尻昆布)
- Hidaka Kombu (日高昆布)
- Rausu Kombu (羅臼昆布)
Each type has slightly different flavors and textures. Ideally it’s best to use different kombu for each recipe that require certain kombu.
Note: You might see a Prop 65 warning label on the kombu product. Kombu doesn’t cause cancer specifically; however, seaweeds (kombu, hijiki etc) grown in Japan are harvested in water that contain higher traces of heavy metals than seaweeds harvested elsewhere in the world. Some health agencies have issued warnings against consuming hijiki specifically, which contains a higher amount of inorganic arsenic than other kombu. But there is no ban anywhere in the world against hijiki or any other kind of seaweed. All kombu contain traces of organic arsenic, but not in quantities that can hurt you, unless you consume more than usual amount of kombu every single day. Companies are required to put a Prop 65 warning label on their products in California.
Kombu is a good source of glutamic acid, an amino acid responsible for umami.