KOMBU KELP, A SOURCE OF UMAMI
Kelp is highly prized not only for its abundance of essential minerals, vitamins, and trace elements but also for its natural glutamic salts: a naturally sweet, superior flavor enhancer which creates the famous savory “fifth taste” (Umami) in Japanese cuisine.
When dried naturally, kelp acquires a thin layer of white powder which some consumers believe is extremely flavourful. This white powder is not mold, but is actually the amino acid glutamine. When preparing kombu, this powder should not be washed away.
Kombu/kelp is one of the three main ingredients needed to make dashi, a soup stock used in a multitude of Japanese dishes. Dashi is simple, a strip of dried kombu is placed in cold water, then heated to near-boiling; then the flakes of dried smoked bonito, a type of tuna, and dried Shiitake mushrooms are added to form the flavorful soup base.