Kombu is simply kelp dried whole and cut in pieces.
Kombu Leaves are attached to the central section of the plant; they are more pliable and lend themselves to wrapping food for cooking. They can also be used for stock although their flavour is much milder. They are generally used to wrap fish, cook beans to make them more digestible or to add natural Umami to deepen the flavour of a dish. They are a great food for people wanting to maintain healthy iodine levels naturally.
Kelp is a leathery deep-water sea vegetable from the Brown Seaweed Group, with a naturally salty taste, with a lot less sodium than salt and a better balance of minerals. Known as 'Kombu' by the Japanese, the word 'kelp' encompasses a whole family of seaweeds including many different varieties, with unique taste, colour and texture. Pacific Harvest uses Ecklonia radiata (also called North Island Kelp), because of its mild flavour. Our kelp comes from untouched areas around the country, mainly around Gisborne & Wairarapa. It is harvested sustainably by hand from the wild, after a storm has detached the plant from the kelp forest. It is cleaned by hand in sea water so to not leach the minerals, and then naturally dried.
Take a few minutes to watch the short video by 'Nancy Desjardins', Holistic Nutritionist & Health Coach, describing the benefits of consuming Kelp/Kombu regularly.
Our NZ Kombu is tested for contaminants.
Download your Kombu-recipe-brochure
Kombu Strips refer to the central section of the plant, which is particularly thick and flavourful. Also called 'dashi kombu', it is generally used for stocks by people wanting to maintain healthy iodine levels naturally. NZ Kombu Strips are hard & flavourful and lend themselves well to making full-bodied Dashi (stock) used in Miso soup and other traditional dishes. Kelp/Kombu is a must for all types of soup stocks, enriching flavour and nutrition. The flavourful part of Kombu is called 'Umami' - translated from Japanese as 'deliciousness' - an amino acid that is an integral part of the plant. Umami is the fifth taste but does a lot more for the taste experience.
Generally, less salt is required in a dish using Kombu, because the abundance of minerals released provide a 'salty' taste, with a lot less sodium & a better balance of other minerals we need. Making stock using Kombu is a great way to introduce seaweed in your diet.
Many chefs never allow Kombu to boil; they claim it makes the stock bitter. Instead, soak the strip in ‘just boiled water’ and adjust the soaking time to get the desired flavour: for a stronger stock, the Kombu may be soaked overnight.
A kelp strip can be used more than once to make stock or re-cycled to cook beans, then cut fine and added to soups/stews or to make a delicious marinade for vegetables/fish/meat. Beans should never be cooked without it, as it tenderizes, shortens cooking times and improves digestibility.
Health & Nutrition
Because Kombu is kelp dried as a strip, it contains all the nutrients naturally found in kelp. Kelp is well known for its iodine levels, the highest of all sea vegetables. It is also an excellent source of trace minerals, vitamins and detoxifying fibre. Kelp contains special compounds that are said to have a positive effect on degenerative diseases: Algins, Fucoidan, Laminarin, lignans and many anti-oxidants.
Kelp a positive alternative to salt, still salty, with less sodium chloride and more of the other minerals we need. Hailed to be the best source of natural iodine in nature, it nourishes the thyroid and optimises the metabolism. Kelp/Kombu also contains exceptional pre-biotic fibre , essential to good digestion.
Kelp contains Mannitol - a natural sugar molecule with a very low glycemic index - which gives it a slight sweetness to the plant.
Label & Warnings
Being kelp, Kombu is very high in iodine.
In NZ the RDI is 150mcg. Consume in small quantities to stay within the RDI for iodine. There is controversy over how much iodine one should consume, seek the help of a qualified health professional for personalised advice.