One of my friends called me the other day and asked how she could cook Kombu seaweed. I often get these questions relating to Japanese food ingredients.
She said she tried boiling but it turned out like a huge sheet of rubber. She is a foodie and a health nut and knows all the health benefits from eating sea vegetables, however, she does not quite know how to cook them.
We eat seaweed or sea vegetables very often in Japan. You can get them fresh, but dried seaweed may be more popular. It keeps very long in your larder and is very convenient.
Unfortunately, you cannot get too many varieties in the UK, but you can get wakame and Kombu from local supermarkets.
Wakame may be more familiar, but Kombu is not too well known. It usually comes as a hard dried sheet and looks quite inedible. When it is rehydrated, it becomes like a rubber and again, it looks inedible, so what do we do with it?
It is often used to make stock. It is used to make a light broth for Asian soups like miso, noodle soup, and tofu soup. To make one quart of broth, fill a pot with 4 cups of water and a 20cm strip of kombu.
As I wrote in a post in the past, I use Kombu to make the broth for Oden. I also use for miso soup, Udon noodle soup. Kombu is packed with Umami, or savory taste and it gives depth to the flavour of your dish. Should you through away after you make the stock? No, of course not. You can cut them into smaller strips and cook with bit of soy sauce, mirin sweet wine until the liquid is all gone. It is called Tsukudani and often eaten with steamed rice.
I also use Kombu to make this dish: Gomoku soy beans.
It is stewed soy beans with quite often, root vegetables. Simple cooking with not a lot of ingredients, but it is nutty and delicious and nice for a snack as well. Gomoku means a few things mixed. ‘Go’ is the number five, but you can have more than five thing when you use the word.
I make quite a lot in one go since it takes some time to cook soy beans. We used to be able to buy cooked soy beans in a tin, but it has been disappeared from supermarket shelves, so, we have to start from soaking dried beans.
I recommend to use at least 1 cup or 160 g dried beans.
160g dried soy beans
30g carrot, diced
5 slices of dried shiitake mushrooms if you have
Kombu sheet, 3 x 10cm, cut to about 1 x 1cm
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp rice wine or white wine
This is just a guidance. You can be quite relaxed about measuring seasoning for this recipe. Add more soy sauce or sugar if you would like. You can also add Dashi stock granules if you have some. Add green beans cut to small pieces or diced potatoes. I would choose salad potatoes in that case so that potatoes will not get too soft and mushy.
1. Soak soy beans over night.
2. Cook soy beans in lots of water for 1-2 hours until soft. Drain cooking water.
3. Add water to soy beans just to cover the top. Add all ingredients and simmer for further 20 minutes.
Make sure your soy beans are fully cooked and soft enough before you add seasonings. If you add them too soon, beans will not get any softer no matter how much more you cook. If you find cooking liquid evaporating too fast, you can add water a bit more.
After cooking for 20 minutes, let it cool. Flavours will soak in as the dish cools down. Adjust the taste with soy sauce, salt and sugar afterwards if necessary.
This recipe works with other beans. When I don’t have time to cook dried beans, I use tinned chickpeas or kidney beans.
I found some beans in tins are a little too soft, but if you shorten the cooking time, it should be fine.
When I have ‘Hijiki’ which is another kind of seaweed, I use it instead of Kombu.
It looks like this dried.
You need to soak in water about 10 minutes before cooking. Cut them shorter if necessary. Be careful, it increases in volume by 10 times when it becomes rehydrated. 15-20g dried Hijiki is good enough to cook with soy beans.
Seaweed is full of vitamins and minerals and has no calories. Isn’t it too good to be true?