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Kombu seaweed recipes

Kelp or kombu seaweed is most widely used in Japanese cuisine for making kombu dashi, the basic soup stock for many Japanese soup dishes.

Kombu dashi may seem simple, but there are many fine points to observe. Also, there are different forms of kombu dashi. Click here for a detailed discussion about the different forms of this kombu seaweed stock.

On this page, however, I will share some of the many other ways of using kombu or kelp.

Shio (salted) kombu with shiitake

The inspiration for this dish is Tsukudani, a Japanese simmered dish flavored with soy sauce. There are many kinds of tsukudani and the most popular is made with kombu seaweed. However, tsukudani is a very salty and intensely flavored dish, such that you can only eat a small amount, about 1 tablespoonful with a bowl of rice. This is a milder version, which you can take as a small side dish.

When you have leftover kombu from making dashi broth, try making tsukudani. Tsukudani is usually very salty, and it's good to eat on hot steamed rice.



  1. Soak kombu in just enough water to cover, for 10 minutes.
  2. Soak shiitake mushrooms separately, for 30 minutes lor longer.
  3. Pressure cook the kombu seaweed with its soaking water for 10 minutes, or cook over a small fire in a heavy pot until soft, about 45 minutes. Cut the seaweed into small squares.
  4. Cut the shiitake mushrooms into thin strips. In a heavy pan, saute mushrooms with seasame oil until fragrant. Add kombu, plus enough of the mushroom soaking liquid to prevent burning.
  5. Cook over medium heat for 10 minutes. Add shoyu and cook for another 10 minutes, or until the mixture is rather dry.

VARIATION: To make a strong tsukadani, leave out the shiitake mushrooms in the recipe above. Use slightly more soy sauce - about 2 tbsp. Also add a bit of sugar - I would not go beyond 1/2 tsp as I don't like it sweet - or mirin, a sweet rice wine for cooking.

Kombu garlic marinate

This is nice to keep in the refrigerator. Make a fairly large amount to eat over a week or two as a side "pickle". Or when you don't feel like cooking an elaborate meal, it goes well with plain brown rice porridge.



  1. Soak kombu in water for 30 minutes, until soft. Cut into small squares. Save the soaking liquid.
  2. Heat oil in a wok or heavy pan. Saute kombu and garlic lightly.
  3. Add shoyu and honey or sugar and continue to saute to blend the flavours, about 10 minutes.
  4. Add 1 cup of kombu soaking liquid. Simmer until the liquid is reduced, but not too dry. The mixture should have the consistency of gravy. Leave to marinate in refrigerator for at least two hours before serving.
  5. This can keep refrigerated for a few weeks, just take care to use clean and dry utensils for scooping out small amounts to eat.

Aduki squash kombu

This is a classic macrobiotic dish, said to nourish the kidneys. Although medical science believes that salt is harmful to the kidneys, oriental medicine considers mild and naturally salty foods, like kombu and other seaweeds, to be beneficial and nourishing.



  1. Soak aduki beans for at least four hours, or overnight. Discard the soaking liquid.
  2. Soak kombu seaweed separately for about 30 minutes, until soft. Cut into small squares.
  3. Place the kombu pieces at the bottom of a heavy pot. Add beans on top of the kombu. Add enough water to just cover the beans. Bring to a boil and skim off any foam. Leaving the pan uncovered, continue to boil for another 10 minutes. Cover and reduce heat to minimum.
  4. Cook for about 40 minutes, checking occasionally to see that the beans remain covered with water.
  5. At this stage, or later once the beans are soft, add a good pinch of sea salt, about 1/4 tsp and mix well. Add salt only after the beans have softened, not before as otherwise the beans will remain hard. This small amount of salt is not to make the dish taste salty, but to draw out the sweetness of the beans.
  6. Cut the kabocha / winter squash into medium chunks. Place on top of the beans and cook another 20 minutes until the kabocha is soft but still holds itself together. Note: Some people prefer to add the kabocha / squash at the start of the cooking, such that it disintegrates into the dish. You may do this if you wish, but I prefer to have the kabocha / squah remain separate.

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