Cosmo Cruz has been Illustrating for 10+ years in freelance graphic design, studying permaculture design, and teaches about super soils.
What Is Kombu?
Kombu is an edible kelp species from the familial background Laminariaceae and is consumed or used in East Asia and coastal regions like the Northern Califonia Coast. It may also be referred to as dasima or haidai. Kombu releases the rare Umami flavor into dishes when cooked in a soup broth or deep-fried to make kombu chips.
Personally, I like to dry my Kombu first. After its fully dried and stiff, it should change color to a darker purple; proceed to grind or blend your Kombu until it is pureed. Lastly, add your accompanying dried herbs and spices. Shake well!
Foraging depends on the laws in your local region. Always consult local government first. This is an extremely fun pastime and a great way to start a new hobby or bring a rare ingredient to your special dish at home.
Never forage for seaweed near a city or facility that sits on a waterway. Always check reports on water health in the area as well. When the proper organization has given you the information you need, ask these questions and bring these tools.
Questions to Ask
- How much seaweed can I legally forage?
- What tide pools is seaweed foraging allowed at?
- Where are the beaches that allow seaweed foraging?
- Is the water safe in that area?
Tools for Foraging
- Knife (tool)
- Scissors (to snip seaweed)
- Bag (porous or upcycled material such as plastic bags, fruit bags, etc.)
- Extra clothes (Low tide in the morning can be chilly; always have extra clothes when going foraging along the coast.)
- A hat or helmet (Those rocks are slippery out there!)
- Extra socks or wool socks (Stay warm or warm up!)
Where to Look for Kombu
Kombu grows abundantly in coastal regions. Off the coasts of Japan is the most notable place that Kombu is sourced and Northern California as well off the Sonoma, Mendocino, and Humboldt coasts. Kombu grows inside the tide pools and can be reached at low tide. The low tide comes twice a day, once in the morning and the other in the afternoon.
Benefits of Kombu
- Improves digestion (this also makes you less gassy)
- Improves blood cholesterol and hypertension
- Improves thyroid function
- Improves immunity
- Extremely high nutritional value
- Great addition to any soup
- Great addition for the umami flavor for any dish
Read more about the health benefits of kombu.
Protection of Tide Pools
Tide pools and kelp forests have a very specific purpose that is vital to the natural biome of the ocean. Marine life uses seaweed and other algae as a way to protect itself, live, and nourish itself. Without kelp, hundreds of species of fish and crustaceans lose their home and their life. Never over-harvest your kombu. Take as much as you need to eat so you can keep coming back to collect it. Severing the fronds too low will kill the kombu, so only snip the fronds like hair.