Kombu, an edible seaweed essential to Japanese cuisine, has a unique flavor-boosting power thanks to a high concentration of glutamate, the molecule responsible for the savory “fifth taste” we call umami. When paired with brown sugar and soy sauce, shredded ribbons of makombu, the highest grade of kombu, transform into an addictive, sweet-salty condiment that is delicious atop rice or noodles, in salads, alongside fish, or even enjoyed on its own as a light bar snack. Using a pre-shredded version makes preparing it a snap. This recipe first appeared in the tablet edition of our October 2014 issue with the story Spectacular Seaweed.
- 4 oz. shredded makombu
- 1 1⁄2 cups dashi
- 3 tbsp. soy sauce
- 2 1⁄2 tsp. shichimi togarashi (Japanese seven-spice powder)
- 1⁄3 cup packed light brown sugar
- Boil makombu and dashi in a 2-qt. saucepan. Stir in brown sugar; cook until dissolved, 1-2 minutes. Reduce heat to medium; cook 10 minutes. Stir in soy sauce; cook until mixture is slightly dry, 30-35 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in shichimi togarashi; let cool completely. Chill in an airtight container up to 10 days.