What can be substituted for kombu (Kelp)

Is there a substitute for kombu (kelp)? Is the most asked question in my comment section. But the good news is that yes, there are many options for Kombu substitutes in cooking.

From Bonito soup stock, Nori, Wakame, Hondashi, Regular chicken stock, these are some alternatives you can substitute for kombu, kelp powder, and dried kelp.

So stay with me, know what can you replace kombu with…

What is Kombu?

Kombu is an edible seaweed that comes from the brown algae family. Like other seaweeds, its primary use is a thickener and gelling agent.

It is cultivated in Japan, China, Taiwan, Korea, and the Philippines. When cooked, it expands to several times its size. It is the ingredient responsible for dishes like Dashi (Japanese bonito fish stock) and shiokara (fermented seafood).

What does kombu taste like?

Kombu has a wonderful, deep umami flavor. Depending on how it is prepared and cooked, kombu can taste meaty. It is a flavor that works well in almost any dish.

In addition to being used as an ingredient, kombu has several health benefits.

Is Kombu Same As Seaweed?

Yes. Kombu is an edible seaweed. Where kombu comes under Kelp. Other seaweed is different species of plants with different properties and nutritional values.

Seaweed is a term for algae that grows in the sea. It comes from the old English word “sew,” which means salty. 

There are many types of seaweed, but it is usually green or brown in color. It is most commonly found in China, Japan, the North American west coast, and the UK.

Kombu, however, is a species of kelp (seaweed) that is harvested in the northern part of Japan and Korea and is a type of edible kelp that has been dried and pressed into thin sheets.

It obtains its name from the Japanese word “konbu,” which means kelp. It has a mild flavor and is also used to increase the appetite.

What can I use instead of kombu? (13 Kombu Substitutes) 

1. DASHI is the Best Substitute for Kombu

Dashi is traditional Japanese Cuisine. Dashi makes from miso soup and has an umami flavor. While you don’t have Kombu or konbu, use premade Dashi stock.

Some grilled meals, including okonomiyaki and takoyaki, have Dashi added into the wheat substrate.

2. Use MENTSUYU Place of Kombu

Mentsuyu is excellent for making noodle soups. It can also be used to season a variety of Japanese meals, such as stews, in place of kombu.

you can use mentsuyu place of kombu

The word Komu-Dashi on the package indicates that it can be a good substitute for Kombu.

Because Mentsuyu has a salty flavor, we don’t recommend adding it to a soup that has already had seasoned.

3. AJINOMOTO for Taste Enhancer Kombu Replacement 

Ajinomoto is quite popular because of its seasoning properties. 

It’s simply monosodium glutamate in the form of salt. The Chinese have used Ajinomoto salt for several years as a taste enhancer. 

Try Ajinomoto if you’re looking to cook a traditional Japanese supper but don’t have any Kombu. To increase the soup’s flavor, pickles, or even meat, sprinkle some Ajinomoto.

4. You can also use BONITO SOUP STOCK Alternate to Kombu

Bonito soup stock is a wonderful substitute for Kombu. Bonito has mainly fermented dried fish flakes and has a deep umami flavor.

Bonito soup is easy to use and make also available online.

5. DRIED SHIITAKE MUSHROOMS Another Substitution for Dried Kelp

Dried Shiitake Mushrooms are best to put in your soup. Shiitake Mushrooms are the most popular mushroom among the edible mushroom species. 

Dried Shiitake mushroom has a meaty and umami flavor. So, if you can’t locate Kombu, substituting Shittake mushrooms is a good option.

Dried shiitake mushrooms are somewhat pricey. It has the same glutamic acid as present in Japanese Kombu; it is one of the healthiest and most palatable counterparts.

To prepare the dried shiitake mushrooms stock, soak them in water for 6 to 12 hours in 100ml per mushroom. The more you soaked the mushrooms, the richer you’ll get the flavor of the soup.

6. WAKAME Similar to Kombu 

Wakame is another best alternative for kelp or kombu. It’s simple to find and even simpler to prepare. Wakame is frequently used in vegan recipes, as well as soups and fresh salads.

7. Kombu Substitute is KOMBU GRANULES 

While you don’t have kombu, use kombu granules instead. In the granules, kombu is commonly mixed with dried bonito shavings, dried sardines, or even dry shiitake mushrooms.

It’s a great addition to stews, mixed rice, and the well-known Dashi.

Adjust the spices to taste once the granules have dissolved. Kombu Granules are the best way to achieve a Dashi flavor.

8. Try KOMBU TEA instead of Kombu 

Kombu tea is the powder form of kombu. Kombu tea is a secret ingredient in a variety of recipes. Kombu tea comes with different flavors like Plum, lemon, etc. Using plain kombu tea is excellent for cooking. 1 tablespoon powder is enough to bring savor to your recipe.

9. CHICKEN STOCK is Alternative for Kombu in Soup 

Chicken Stock is the easiest replacement for Kombu. Use premade chicken stock and add some seasoning salt.

Chicken stock is suitable for stew soup and also brings savory flavor to your recipe.

Read More- Best Replacement for Chicken stock Concentrate

10. WHITE FISH- A Decent Kombu Replacement 

white fish is a popular substitute for kombu

Whitefish is an excellent Kelp or Kombu substitute for stew and soup. Whitefish has the same umami flavor as kombu. Know more substitutes for Mahi-Mahi.

11. Add DULSE to your Next Recipe Replace of Kombu

Can you heard about Dulse before! Dulse is another edible red algae famous for snack food. Like all other edible seaweed, dulse is also rich in fiber and proteins.

Fry some dried Dulse leaf until it becomes crisp, then place between bread with mayonnaise, lettuce, and tomato. That’s it.

12. You can add HONDASHI. Give the Exact Flavor as Kombu

Hondashi is a well-known dashi granule widely used in Japan. Hondashi is versatile; you can use it to make various foods, such as mixed rice, miso soup, pot dishes, stews, etc. 

You can add Ajinomoto and beef broth along with Hondashi to make fragrant and flavorful Japanese soup. To make this recipe, add 1 tablespoon Hondashi powder with 4 cups of water.

13. NORI is Similar to Kelp

Nori is edible dried seaweed primarily used in Japanese, Korean, Chinese, and surrounding cuisine. Nori has sweet and used to wrap sushi, onigiri.

Nori is a perfect substitute for kombu or kelp because it is versatile used in soup, food decoration, etc. Except for its savory taste, Nori contains health benefits too.

Is Eating Kombu Good For You?

Kombu (Laminaria japonica) is a brown seaweed that becomes dense and hard when dried. 

It’s not only used to make Dashi, the traditional Japanese stock made with Katsuobushi (dried, fermented skipjack tuna). 

Kombu is often used as the main ingredient in other dishes, too. It is rich in minerals like iodine, manganese, zinc, and iron.

Kombu Substitute for Ramen

Kombu, or dried kelp, is a tasty ingredient and a functional one. This means that when you add kombu to the water in which you cook your ramen noodles, you aren’t just adding delicious flavor. Still, you are also adding beneficial nutrients to your food.

Kombu will give your broth deep-sea umami that you won’t get from the usual chicken or beef stock.

Kombu Substitute for Dashi

Using kombu to make Dashi is considered the most traditional method and the simplest. 

Other soups use Dashi as a base, such as miso soup (misoshiru). Still, I will focus on using kombu to make Dashi today.

Kombu has a lot of glutamic acids, which are said to be effective for fatigue and stress relief. 

In addition, as Dashi is a soup that is served together with rice, it provides some nourishment to the body. 

Although there are many instant dashi products nowadays on the market, I recommend making Dashi from kombu for those who have never tried it because the taste of instant dashi cannot compare with that of Dashi made from kombu.

However, suppose you think it is too much trouble to make Dashi from kombu. In that case, you should be able to make decent Dashi from dried sardines (iriko or niboshi), shiitake (or other kinds of mushrooms), or konbu (salt-dried kelp). 

Wakame vS Kombu

Both types of seaweed are readily available for purchase in dried form at most Asian grocery stores and also at health-food stores. 

However, they may be more easily found in their fresh form in Japanese restaurants (usually displayed in a cooler) or Japanese/Asian grocery stores. 

They are usually eaten in small quantities as a side salad, added to miso soup, or wrapped around sushi.

Kombu is an algae with dark, wide leaves that are full of minerals, vitamins, fiber, and enzymes. 

It is high in glutamic acid, its characteristic umami flavor. Kombu is also full of lignans, antioxidants known to reduce the risk of certain types of cancer. Kombu is also high in iodine.

Wakame is another type of seaweed( kelp) that often appears in miso soup. It is smaller and thinner than kombu and has a sweet-milder flavor. Wakame sometimes calls as “sea mustard.”

It is also full of nutrients, including calcium, magnesium, and potassium. Wakame contains fucoxanthin, a compound that is thought to boost metabolism, which can help weight loss. 

Fucoxanthin may also have anti-inflammatory properties and improve cardiovascular function.

Kombu substitute beans; Is That Ok?

Is it ok to use beans instead of kombu when cooking Dashi (Japanese stock)?

In some Japanese cookbooks, you can find recipes that instruct to add dried beans instead of kombu when making Dashi.

Why should we do that?

Maybe it is easier to obtain dried beans than kombu in some areas. Perhaps using beans instead of kombu is a good idea because some kinds of dried beans have high contents of glutamic acid.

In general, dried beans do have not much umami. I tried different types of dried beans but couldn’t find any significant differences between them. 

So, if you want to make Dashi with beans, I recommend choosing the type of dried bean that is easier for you to get.

My All-Time Favorite Kombu Replacements

  • · Dashi
  • · Hondashi
  • · Nori
  • · Wakami
  • · Dulse
  • · Kombu Tea 
  • · Kombu Granules
  • · Dried Shiitake Mushrooms

Wrap Up On Substitutes for Kombu (Kelp)

I hope you enjoyed reading this post and found it useful in your hunt for a Kombu Seaweed alternative.

Please leave me a comment on which replacement of Kombu you like the most. 

If you have any suggestions for alternatives that are not included on this list, please leave them in the comments section and share your favourite with us.

FAQs Related To Kombu & Its Replacements

Q1. Can I use nori in place of kombu?

Kombu is a type of kelp, and nori is dried edible seaweed obtained from red algae. The same family, but different. 

While kombu is large, thick, and has a very strong flavor, nori is small, thin like paper, and delicate with an almost sweet flavor. 

Kombu is better used as a flavoring for broths and soups, where nori can be eaten as a snack or wrapped around maki sushi rolls.

Nori is a good substitute for kombu, but not in recipes requiring long cooking times since its flavor and texture are too fragile.

Nori is often toasted before use, which can be done with kombu but will give it a totally different flavor.

If you’re looking for a substitute in recipes where the kombu is more of an accent (not cooked long), nori can be a fine substitute.

Q2. Is kombu the same as dried seaweed?

Many people think that kombu is the same as dried seaweed, but they are actually two different products.

Kombu is the name of a particular type of seaweed.

Dried seaweed is one of many different types of seaweed that are dried to preserve them.

Some types of dried seaweed like Nori are used in cooking. Still, others are used only for decorative purposes or added to bathwater.

Q3. Can you make Dashi without kombu?

Yes, of course! All you need is katsuobushi.

At a fundamental level, making Dashi with only katsuobushi is precisely the same as making it with kombu and katsuobushi.
The difference is in the amount necessary, but this difference is slight.

Kombu contains glutamates, which are the source of the umami in Dashi, so it’s natural to assume that katsuobushi supplies them too.

But the truth is that the umami contained in good-quality katsuobushi mostly comes from inosinates.

Q4. Can I use wakame instead of kombu?

Yes, you can use wakame instead of kombu. 

Wakame is a type of seaweed that looks very similar to kombu, although it’s milder in flavor. You can use wakame as a replacement for kombu in any of our recipes, and it will taste delicious!

From Bonito soup stock, Nori, Wakame, Hondashi, Regular chicken stock, these are some alternatives you can substitute for kombu, kelp powder, and dried kelp.

So stay with me, know what can you replace kombu with…

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