Laminaria digitata, also known as Atlantic kombu, occupies the most turbulent niche in the ecosystem of ledge and sea, thriving in constant swells and surf. Digitata has a monumental ability to cling to the rocks as the full force of the ocean flows through their fingers. It is the deepest growing edible seaweed, and is only accessible a few days out of every month on the lowest new and full moon tides. The plants dry to a near black and are loaded with minerals, vitamins and trace elements. Kombu is appreciated for its high levels of iodine, calcium, potassium, iron, carotene and the B vitamins, to name a few. The slight sweet background is manitol, a natural sugar. Kombu has been used as a flavor enhancer for centuries due to its glutamic acid which imparts a mellow, silky taste to all sorts of dishes.
Traditionally, good miso soup begins with DASHI KOMBU, a nutritious all purpose kombu soup stock. To prepare, cut 2 kombu strips into bite size pieces in a pot with 4 cups water. Bring the pot to boil and simmer for 10 minutes.
For MISO SOUP add fresh or lightly sautÃ©ed cabbage, carrots, leeks and onions to dashi kombu and simmer until tender. Regular or deep fried tofu may be added when the vegetables are nearly ready. Remove 1/2 cup broth and cream with 3 to 4 tablespoons miso. Add to soup and heat to just before boiling. Shiitake mushrooms and wakame seaweed are traditional favorites and can be added at the dashi stage.
Kombu gives BEAN DISHES a silky delicious broth as well as making them easier to digest. Once you try beans with kombu, it becomes an essential ingredient. Put 2 strips of kombu in with beans to soak. Cook for an hour in a pressure cooker or simmer for a few hours. SauteÃ© onions and garlic in plenty of olive oil with salt and spices. Cumin and curry are my favorites – or try white beans with savory spices. When onions begin to brown stir them into the cooked beans.