Eat This Word: Kombu



WHAT? Japanese food staple. The Internet is filled with websites praising the health benefits of the seaweed kombu (also konbu), known in English as kelp and in Latin as Laminaria. Whether or not kombu is a cure for cancer or has natural cholesterol-lowering abilities, it is certainly one of the foundations of Japanese cooking. To make the stock, dashi, which is at the base of most Japanese cooking, a piece of dried kombu is simmered in water. The kombu is removed and flakes of katsuoboshi (dried and smoked bonito) are added, simmered, and strained out. Kombu is also used to marinate fish. Kombu grows in clear, shallow ocean water, such as that found off the coast of Hokkaido in Japan or Hawaii. It can reach 30 feet, but it’s usually cut to lengths of a few inches for sale. There are, of course, different varieties for different purposes, but all contain an impressive amount of natural monosodium glutamate that accounts for its flavor enhancing and transformational marinating... Read more >

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Cooking with Sea Vegetables


Offering a hint of their briny habitat without tasting distinctly fishy, sea vegetables (aka seaweed) infuse dishes with deep, savory flavor. Some of the most commonly consumed varieties include nori (the seaweed used to make sushi), wakame or alaria (the soft, shredded greens often found in miso soup), or black, crunchy hijiki, which adds texture to seaweed salads and stir-fries. Sea vegetables are most commonly sold in dried form, but they’re very easy to work with. Simply soak in water until soft, then chop and add to your dish. Some seaweeds, like nori, which is used to make sushi, and dulse, are usually eaten dried.


Though they're a longtime staple of many Asian cuisines, seaweeds can also enhance foods from other parts of the world: try cooking dried beans with alaria, or sprinkle dulse flakes over puff pastry, as Dorie Greenspan does in the French-inspired pinwheel recipe listed below.


Cold Soba Noodles... Read more >

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