Shio kombu is kelp that has been simmered in soy sauce and other ingredients (such as sake and a sweetener), dried and then cut into pieces. In Japan, Shio kombu is often used as a topping for rice. But these days, chefs both in Japan and overseas are using shio kombu in a variety of dishes for the umami.
Kombu is not only rich in minerals, vitamins, iodine and fibers, but is also a concentrated source of natural glutamic acid (or glutamates). When combined with the inosinic acid in foods like katsuobushi (dried bonito), it enhances the umami. Umami-rich foods can be found in other parts of the world (like Parmigiano Reggiano cheese in Italy), and is an essential component in any cuisine. Today, chefs all over the world have learned to use and embrace kombu, to enhance the flavors of their food (and minimize the use of salt).
Most of the kelp consumed in Japan comes from the cold, clean waters off Hokkaido, the northern island. Among the many species, Ma-konbu (or true bull kelp) is known as the king of kelp because of its fragrant bouquet and its ability to produce crystal clear, mellow, sweet, rich and refined dashi stock. Two year old ma-kombu is harvested annually during a short period from mid-July through mid-August. After the early morning harvest hundreds of moist kelp leaves are spread out on pebbles on the beach and dried naturally in the sun. Before the sun goes down the partially dried kelp is brought inside the factory barn, stacked up and left for overnight storage. Next morning the kelp is again laid over the pebbles for further drying. This process is repeated for several more days.
Then the hard and dried kelp is left outside after sunset to absorb nighttime moisture, making the kelp flexible, allowing it to be stretched and tightly rolled for storage. The stretched kelp is then trimmed by hand to remove the wavy edge, sorted by size and quality and finally it is dried further in the barn. At the end of the process kelp weighs only about 9% of its original material.
During the drying process as internal water evaporates, fine white powder seeps out from the interior and covers the surface. This powder is the source of fragrant sweetness and umami.
Matsumaeya was established in Osaka in 1912 and since then they have been providing quality kombu products to the culinary hubs all over Japan.
Ingredients: 2-Year Ma-kombu (true bull kelp), soy sauce, sake, sweetener and L-glutamic acid
Origin: 道南, Hokkaido in Japan
Shelf Life: 6 months
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