Kombu, which is pronounced as KOM-boo, is a vegetable from Japan. It is popularly known as one of the main ingredients of dashi noodle broth. Most of the time, you will find this vegetable dried. But you also have the option to eat it fresh or pickled in vinegar. Is this vegetable healthy for you? Learn more about this seaweed below.
Kombu as the King Seaweeds
Out of all the types of seaweeds available, only is used to make Dashi. If you are not aware of Dashi, it is a soup stock that has a taste similar to umami. This dish is popular in the Japanese cuisine for its fifth taste.
In addition, kombu can be eaten as a culinary ingredient. It also has a distinct texture so it can be crunchy, soft, firm, and pliable, depending on how it is cooked. Another reason this type of seaweed is popular is that it can extract delicious flavors when mixed with other ingredients.
Nutrients Found in Kombu
For starters, kombu has amino acids that can help break down the starches in beans. With this, the starches can easily move through your body. When cooked with beans, you can expect the beans to be cooked faster as kombu can soften the ingredient. It also has a glutamic acid that can give an umami flavor.
Below are the other nutrients found on this seaweed:
- Fucoida – It is extracted from Mekabu that has an anti-tumor effect.
- Potassium – According to studies, potassium can decrease blood pressure. In addition, by increasing your potassium intake through kombu can reduce your risk of having a stroke.
- Iodine – It is a mineral that is responsible for maintaining your thyroid function. It can also produce thyroid hormones. However, take note that too much iodine can result in negative effects on your health.
- Alginic acid – It has a lot of benefits including reducing your risk of having high blood pressure, preventing hyperlipidemia, and activating your digesting enzymes.
Other nutrients found in Kombu are iron and calcium that can fight against anemia. You can also expect this seaweed to detoxify and purify your blood. Even better, kombu is a great ingredient for weight loss. Lastly, this seaweed is an anti-cancer food.
On the contrary, there are studies that said that kombu can be good for reducing your tendency of having hypertension and blood cholesterol. Other advantages that this food has is that it can help in carrying oxygen to different cells, build teeth and bones, and support immunity.
How to Cook Kombu
Now that you are aware of the benefits of kombu, you should proceed to know how it is cooked. Follow these simple ways on how to use kombu.
- Simply add a four-strip inch of kombu on the beans. You can cook it on the stove or it can be on the slow cooker.
- Then, before you add broth or water to the stew or soup, be sure that you pop a four-inch strip of the seaweed. After it is cooked, remove the seaweed. Chop it in your desired way then put it back to the pot.
- Next step is to add two-inch strips of brown rice to the bowl or cooker. Discard once the rice is ready to go.
- If the meal that you are preparing has a short cooking time, remember to soak the kombu in warm water before adding. Before that, the seaweed is soaked within 20 minutes. You can even add the water to the recipe to maximize the minerals from the seaweed.
- Then add the soaked and chopped kombu to the soup for more nutrition.
In case you want to eat dried kombu, be sure that it is placed in a dry and cool place. Even if it takes years before you eat it, it will still taste delicious. Just make sure that what you are buying is organic as these have fewer chemical residues.
Another thing that you should take note of is if you have potassium or thyroid medication. This means that you are not allowed to eat a lot of kombu. The best way to avoid this is by consulting with your doctor first.
Once you are sure that kombu is safe for you, then you are free to buy and even stock as many kombu as you want. With this, you can expect that your soup, stew, or broth will be full of nutrients and will certainly taste good.
To sum it all up, kombu is a popular seaweed that is known for its various health benefits. Not only can it prevent you from having serious conditions, but it is also rich in iron, potassium, and iodine. It also has the nutrients that can lower your risk of having anemia and cancer. In addition, there are a lot of researches that can prove that it can aid in weight loss, high blood pressure, and hypertension.
Another reason this seaweed is popular is that it is the only vegetable that can be added to dashi soup. This made kombu one of the finest ingredients in Japanese cuisine. It also has a distinct texture that changes depending on how you prefer to cook it. It can be boiled, dried, and even fried, your choice. Whatever way you cook it, you are sure to get all the nutrients it offers.
But if we were to suggest the best way to cook kombu, it is boiled. By adding kombu to your soup, not only will you get its nutrients from itself, but also from the soup. It also has the capacity to extract the nutrients from other ingredients, maximizing all the nutrients from each ingredient. Isn’t that awesome? No wonder kombu is considered the king of seaweeds.
One last note though. Be sure that you do not have issues with regards to potassium or thyroid medication. Otherwise, you might be prohibited to eat this vegetable. But other than that, you can easily add kombu to your preferred soup or broth.