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Macro Mondays - Kombu: A weed from the sea

Hello, and welcome to week two of:

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Macro Mondays: Kombu

Last week, I mentioned the Top Three Macro Ingredients to try including in your diet. One of them was seaweed. This week, let's explore one of them a little further, with some pictures and information about what to do with it!

Kombu - A Weed From the Sea.

Also known as kelp, this is the flavour-enhancer seaweed. Therefore, I add it to things --- usually soups, stews, or homemade broths --- to make them taste good. In fact, MSG was originally created from kombu by a Japanese scientist. While I don't use MSG in my cooking, I have no problem with some mild flavour boosting from a seaweed in it's pure form.

Kombu can be bought dried, in teas, pickled, and preserved fresh with salt. Or, if you are living in an area where it's harvested, you might be able to buy it really really fresh, without being preserved in any way!

Here's the brand I buy most often, and what it looks like:

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As you can see in the above pictures, there is sometimes a bit of a white film on the kombu. This is totally fine --- often it's salt --- and you can simply wipe it off with a wet cloth before using in any cooking.

What To Do With It

I often make dashi, Japanese soup stock, with kombu. I learned a super easy fast trick to make delicious soup stock in my macrobiotic cooking class in Japan. Here it is:

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Yup, that would be dried kombu in a pitcher of water... the invisible ingredient is time. Simply leave it overnight in the fridge, and the next morning you have a tasty vegan dashi/soup stock, to add to soups, stews, stirfrys, etc. I used it in my celeriac & carrot soup in the fall, and it was delicious. Please check the recipe for Kombu Dashi ratios.

Other Forms of Kombu

Another way I use kelp is in granule form.

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This is convenient to add on top of a cooked grain or steamed vegetables, for a splash of colour and taste. I have also added it to stir frys and soups (when I didn't have or feel like using dashi). It is very very potent, so use with caution --- a teeny tiny bit will do.

I have also seen recipes in many macrobiotic cookbooks for roasted kombu & salt condiments, and I've even tried some kombu chips & candies in Japan.

My Favourite Recipe Using Kombu

One of my favourite things to make with Kombu is to make nishime vegetables.

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Nishime is simply a traditional country-style Japanese Vegetable stew. The kombu is placed on the bottom of the pot, and vegetables are layered on top with some water added last, and simmered for a long-ish period of time. At the end you can flavour with some shoyu or sea salt, and cut the kombu up to be eaten along with the veggies. The result is amazingly sweet vegetables. No, I mean, seriously good vegetables.

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A link to the recipe I use most often (from Jessica Porter's The Hip Chick's Guide to Macrobiotics) is here. Any macrobiotic cooking book I've come across always includes a basic nishime recipe, and the variations are endless. Any root vegetables taste delicious made this way.

Have you ever eaten or cooked with Kombu?
Please find all the Macro Monday together here.
I'm just loving this month of Macrobiotics.