I came across kombu – an edible kelp seaweed – a while ago, while reading a beautiful Japanese cookbook given to me by a foodie friend. Through this book, I learned of the wonders of dashi and how straightforward it is to make. In just 30 minutes you can have this clear and light-bodied stock ready to use in all manner of dishes.
The seaweed used to make the dashi can be reused as the perfect condiment to eat with cooked rice or as a snack. Dehydrated kombu can be used to wrap seafood or meat for stewing. Nothing is wasted!
Kombu is a thick, flat seaweed cultivated in the northern waters of Japan. It's not the best looking of ingredients; it reminds me of stiff black leather covered with a light grey mouldy layer. What it lacks in looks it delivers in taste. It's a natural source of umami, the Japanese word that roughly translates to 'deliciousness'.
In this recipe, the very refreshing cucumber makes the ideal pairing to the seaweed and is given a kick from a sprinkling of shichimi pepper.
This dish is perfect for a light lunch or as a starter