Kombu is used for more than just dashi.
Whether it’s as an ingredient in miso soup or as a wrapping for onigiri, seaweed is synonymous with Japanese cuisine. Kombu (kelp) is best known as one of the main ingredients in dashi, but is equally good served as part of salads or stews. It’s loaded with umami, and therefore dishes in which kombu is an ingredient don’t require added flavor. Kizami-kombu is dried kelp which is shredded to produce a stringy texture. Usually it’s simmered with thinly sliced vegetables or used in asazuke (Japanese pickles) to add umami.
Satsuma-age (fried fish cakes) add volume to the stew. Made from ground fish, flour and seasoning, satsuma-age originate from southern Kyushu, but are found throughout Japan.
Thinly sliced deep-fried tofu pouches, shiitake, boiled edamame (soy beans) are also nice additions to this dish.
Ingredients (for 6 – 8 people)
- 25 g of kizami-kombu
- 80 g of carrot
- 2 sheets of satsuma-age (120 g)
- 400 ml of dashi soup
- 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil
- 1.5 – 2 tablespoons of sugar
- 4 tablespoons of soy sauce
In 1 liter of cold water, rinse the kizami-kombu and soften for 5 minutes (refer to the instructions on the kizami-kombu’s package) before draining.
Next, place the satsuma-age in a colander and pour 100 ml of hot water over the fish cakes to remove any excess oil.
Cut the carrot into 4 – 5 cm long square strips so that they resemble matchsticks
Place a saucepan with a tablespoon of vegetable oil on a medium heat, and sauté the carrot for 2 minutes. Add the kizami-kombu, mix well and sauté for 1 – 2 minutes. Add the satsuma-age and mix again.
Pour in 400 ml of dashi soup, 1.5 – 2 tablespoons of sugar and soy sauce. Turn the heat down low, simmer for 15 – 20 minutes with the lid on and serve.
Enhance a dish’s flavor with shio-kouji.
Shio-kouji has a long history as a method for enhancing a dish’s flavor. It has recently come back into fashion, no doubt due to it’s versatility – it adds umami to just about anything. Shio-kouji makes an excellent marinade for fish (cod or salmon) pork, chicken or even vegetables. Here, we’re using it to marinade yellowtail, but as we’re coming into spring, a good alternative would be Spanish mackerel.
- 300 g kome-kouji
- 90 g salt
- 2 slices of yellowtail (about 100g per slice)
- 3 tablespoons shio-kouji
- 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
- Pickled ginger (garnish)
Prepare the shio-kouji 1 – 2 weeks ahead of time. Add 90 grams of salt to 300 grams of kome-kouji (rice kouji – essentially rice to which the kouji spores have been attached). Mix well then place in a container with enough water to cover the rice. Leave the container out of the fridge, stirring once a day.
Method (Sautéed yellowtail)
Remove any extra moisture from both sides of the yellow tail with kitchen paper. Next, place the fish in a clean plastic bag and coat with the shio-kouji. Leave it in the fridge overnight (or for a minimum of 3 – 4 hours).