Kombu Tsukudani

Kombu is one of our beloved culinary seaweeds, but we rarely *actually* eat it. We use it in broths and soups, simmering and soaking it to bring out its flavor, umami, and minerals .. and then we pull it out. But I went over to my friend Autumn's house a couple of months ago and she made a kombu dish that simmers the kelp itself, until it's chewy and sweet and savory. She told me "tsukudani" is the name for dishes that are simmered in soy and sugar, resulting in a strong, concentrated flavor. It's a great way to preserved foods -- and this recipe can last a couple of weeks in the fridge.

You can use kombu that has already been cooked for dashi, but here we use a new dried piece that we've re-hydrated. Not meant to be eaten plain, kombu tsukudani is great to add to rice or onigiri. (But it's also hard to resist snacking on it by itself!)

It's amazing.

Here's the (improvised) recipe for Kombu Tsukudani:

Ingredients:

  • 15-25g dried kombu, about 4-5 pieces over six inches
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 tsp. rice vinegar
  • 3 Tbsp. soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp. mirin
  • 1 Tbsp. brown or unrefined sugar
  • sesame seeds to sprinkle

1. Re-hydrate the kombu in water for 15 minutes. Then slice into the thinnest strips possible. I like to cut horizontally across the blade, so the strips end up being 2-3" long.

2. Place in small pot, along with water and rice vinegar. Cook at medium heat for 10 minutes.

3. Add the soy sauce, mirin, and sugar, turn heat to low, and simmer until most of the liquid is gone.

4. Add sesame seeds and add as a condiment to your favorite dish!