Ingredient Spotlight – Kombu

This is the second post in my Ingredient Spotlight Series where I focus on some of the slightly less common ingredients that tend to show up in my recipes and make a home in my kitchen.

Ingredient: Kombu

source

How do you pronounce it? Com-boo

What is it? Seaweed.  It’s a staple of Japanese cooking – commonly used to make a broth called Dashi, which is then used to make a multitude of different soups and noodle dishes.

Where do you find it at the store? I’ve only seen it at Whole Foods in my area.  It’s in the asian food section there.  It might be at Asian Markets, but I’ve never actually visited one.  You can also buy it online easily – here’s one of the many offerings on Amazon.

How much does it cost? About $5 a bag.  I’ve been using the same bag for a year now, so the cost is quite reasonable.

How do you cook it?  I personally only use it when cooking beans.  I use a postage stamp size piece in each pot of beans when cooking black beans, chickpeas, pinto beans and great northern beans.

soaked black beans + kombu in the crockpot, waiting to be cooked.

The kombu I buy (see picture above) is in postcard size sheets that are pretty brittle.  I simply snap off a strip and snap off a roughly 2×2 inch square per batch of beans.  I cook beans about once a week and am still on my first bag.

What does it taste like it?  Since I only use it when cooking beans, I can’t speak to the taste.  I don’t notice that it adds any flavor whatsoever to the cooked beans.  I do plan on making Dashi and using it for a miso soup base.  Dashi preparation is a simple as it gets: soak kombu + water, then bring to just below a boil and remove from heat.  That’s it.

What’s so great about it?  You know how beans can be, uh, musical?  Well, if you cook your beans with kombu, there is much less music.  Sweet, sweet smell-free silence.  If that’s not benefit enough, cooking your beans with kombu adds iodine, calcium and magnesium to the beans, in addition to making the beans easier to digest.

Will kids and/or husbands eat it?  We don’t eat kombu directly, as I toss it in the trash after the beans have cooked.  So, technically, none of us eat it.  But, all four of us eat the beans cooked with kombu and much appreciate the easier digestion.  And less smelly aftermath.

Any of you kombu fans?  How can you not be a fan of a bean de-gasser???

Further Reading:

Healthy in Candyland – Peek of the Week: Kombu

Whole Foods Market Guide to Sea Vegetables

Savory Japan – Kombu

 

Previous Ingredient Spotlight Posts:

Quinoa

Next up: Chia Seeds.

5 thoughts on “Ingredient Spotlight – Kombu

  1. Good stuff, that kombu. I’ve always used a thumb-sized piece per pot of beans, but if you are having good results with much less, I may have to reduce what I use. I’ve been wanting to try Dashi too, but still haven’t. It’s on my list! Thanks for the mention, my friend!

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  4. Pingback: add this: sea vegetables

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