How To Make Kombu Tsukudani (Simmered Kelp)-Japanese Taste

How To Make Kombu Tsukudani (Simmered Kelp)

by Mana Sobral

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Kombu tsukudani, it's like Japan's flavor-packed secret weapon. It all starts with kombu, a kind of edible kelp that's a big deal in Japanese cooking. Usually, we use the kombu used after making kombu dashi (Kelp Broth) for making kombu tsukudani. Isn't it something uniquely Japanese, thanks to the Mottainai culture? They're still tasty (Why not!) and it becomes more receptive to absorbing flavors after being used for broth. Then comes the magic part – it gets a slow simmer in a sauce made from soy sauce, mirin (sweet rice wine), sugar, and sometimes vinegar to make it tender.

Kombu itself is no slouch either. It's got loads of natural glutamates, which is fancy talk for the stuff that makes your taste buds dance – umami. This fifth taste sensation is all about savoriness, and kombu's got it in spades. Plus, it's an important ingredient in making dashi, that foundational Japanese stock that's the base for everything from miso soup to hot pot.

But what really makes kombu tsukudani a superstar is its texture. It's like a flavor adventure with a side of chewiness. The simmering process softens the kombu just right, so it's tender but not mushy. And when you mix that with the sweet and salty sauce, it's like a party in your mouth.

You can enjoy tsukudani in a bunch of ways. Place it on top of steamed rice – it's like a flavor explosion. Or get creative and use it as a filling for onigiri, those cute rice balls wrapped in seaweed. And if you're into noodles, it's a game-changer as a topping for udon or soba. Or you can keep it simple and let it shine as a side dish for your sake. Its umami is perfect as your drinking buddy.

Beyond being a taste sensation, Kombu Tsukudani is a piece of Japanese culture. You can find it in different forms, from store-bought versions to a little twist as a home recipe. It's proof that Japan knows how to preserve tradition while keeping up with the times.

Kombu tsukudani is all about that umami goodness and unique chewy texture. It's a versatile superstar in Japanese cooking, adding that special touch to a whole range of dishes and celebrating the flavors of the sea.


Prep time: 40 mins

Cook time: 20 mins

Total time: 60 mins

Total servings: 4

Difficulty: Easy

  • 20g Dried Kelp
  • 2 Liters Water
  • 50ml Tamari Soy Sauce
  • 2 tsp Mirin
  • 2 tsp Sake
  • 1 Tbsp White Sugar
  • ½ Tbsp Rice Vinegar
  • 1 tsp Sesame Seeds (Optional)

Expert's Tip

How To Make Kombu Tsukudani (Simmered Kelp)

This premium J Taste kombu is hands down the best kombu to use for making Kombu Tsukudani or any other kombu-based dishes. By using this high-quality kombu, you're guaranteed to come up with the most delicious Kombu Tsukudani!


1) Gathering the Ingredients

Gather the ingredients together.

2) Preparing the Kombu

Place the kombu and 2 liters of water in a large pot and let it sit for 30 minutes.

Heat it slowly and remove the kelp right before the water starts boiling. 

Tip: save the kombu dashi to use in other Japanese dishes!

Note: If you have kombu from making dashi, use it and proceed with the next steps of this recipe.

3) Slicing the Kombu

Cut the kombu in half, then slice it into thin strips. 

Tip: since the kombu is slippery, be sure to grip it tightly and use a sharp knife for slicing.

4) Cooking & Seasoning the Kombu

In a small pot, combine sliced kombu, tamari soy sauce, mirin, sake, and sugar. Bring to a boil, then simmer until the liquid reduces completely.

5) Serving the Kombu Tsukudani

Add sesame seeds or Japanese Sansho pepper if desired. Enjoy it over rice or as a side dish with sake!

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