Konbu Seaweed Salad with Cucumber is a great way of eating a good amount of konbu (Kelp), which is known for providing plenty of health benefits. It is a very refreshing salad with a hint of ginger flavour. The total calorie count of this salad is very low – less than 100 calories per serving!
I use dried konbu quite often to make dashi stock. Since konbu is not a cheap ingredient, It feels wrong to discard the konbu after only using it to get dashi out of it. So, I freeze the used konbu pieces and save them up for later use. Today’s salad is the perfect dish to make use of such leftover konbu pieces.
What is in Konbu Seaweed Salad
It is a very simple salad. It consists of only three items other than dressing.
- Julienned rehydrated konbu
- Julienned cucumber
- Grated ginger
I used cucumber pieces to go with shredded konbu but you don’t have to have cucumbers or you can replace them with other vegetable strips such as carrot or bean sprouts. Then, you need to call it Konbu Seaweed Salad with Carrot or with Bean Sprout!
The dressing is a dashi-flavoured vinegar sauce and it does not contain oil at all. To give the intensity of the dashi flavour to the dressing, I used shiro dashi (白出汁) as a base. Even the dressing consists of just three items.
- Shiro dashi
- Rice wine vinegar
- Soy sauce
The proportion of the dressing ingredients for making Konbu Seaweed Salad with Cucumber is easy to remember too. It’s a reverse 1-2-3:
3 portions of shiro dashi + 2 portions of rice wine vinegar + 1 portion of soy sauce
In my post Stir-fried Choy Sum with deep Fried Tofu, I added a recipe to make shiro dashi at home. But you can use a store-bought shiro dashi if you wish. Japanese grocery stores sell it in a bottle or a carton.
If you cook Japanese dishes often, I strongly recommend getting a bottle of shiro dashi. It is a handy seasoning because it is condensed seasoned broth.
The flavour of shiro dashi varies depending on the brand. Accordingly, the flavour of the dressing varies slightly.
How to Prepare Konbu for the Salad
Dried konbu needs to be soaked in water and then bring it to a boil. You can follow my recipe for Konbu dashi in my post Varieties of Dashi stock, or use the method in the recipe below.
Even if you use the recipe below to rehydrate the konbu, keep the broth. The broth is basically a konbu dashi and you can use it for other dishes. Konbu dashi can keep in the fridge for few days. Although it will lose a bit of flavour, you can freeze konbu dashi for 2-3 weeks.
The konbu normally expands to about 4 times in size and should be tender enough to eat, with a bit of a crunch.
Rehydrated konbu can be quite wide and a bit slippery, which makes it hard to cut very thinly. The easiest way to cut the konbu finely is to roll it up before cutting. Roll the konbu lengthwise, flatten the roll to make it a narrow 3-layered konbu roll, then cut it crosswise (see the step-by-step photos below).
Use a large piece of dried konbu, instead of a collection of small pieces to make up the required amount. If using small pieces, try to pick the pieces with short but full-width. The leaves of konbu are long and narrow in shape and you need to cut the konbu crosswise, not lengthwise.
It is important to get the direction of the konbu right to make a roll because you need to cut the konbu crosswise. The texture of the julienned kombu pieces that are cut lengthwise is much stiffer and you need to avoid that.
Varieties of Konbu and Kiri Konbu
Depending on the origin of the konbu, the texture, colour and even the flavour of the konbu is different. Some of them are slimier than others.
The konbu I used today is from Rishiri (利尻) in Hokkaido. Rishiri konbu is very thick and great for dashi. It is also great for konbu products such as shaved konbu called ‘tororo konbu’ (とろろ昆布).
Other varieties of konbu used for dashi stock include:
- Makonbu (真昆布) – It comes from Hakodate area in Hokkaido. It is a thick and wide high quality konbu. It contains a delicate sweetness, which makes a clean tasting dashi. Makonbu is also used to make tororo konbu.
- Rausu konbu (羅臼昆布) – It is brownish and very soft. The dashi stock out of Rausu konbu is slightly yellowish.
- Hidaka konbu (日高昆布) – The colour of Hidaka konbu is blackish green. It is thin, soft and fast to cook.
You can make Konbu Seaweed Salad with Cucumber with any kind of konbu. If you cannot find konbu, you could substitute it with wakame seaweed. But the texture of the seaweed salad will be quite different.
Finely julienned konbu is called ‘kiri konbu’ (切り昆布) or ‘kizami konbu’ (刻み昆布) in Japanese. The word ‘kiri‘ means cut and ‘kizami’ means chopped finely.
You can even buy a bag of dried kiri konbu from Japanese grocery stores. Rehydrate the konbu in water for 10-15 minutes and it is ready to eat. Here is a sample of dried kiri konbu that I bought from a Japanese grocery store.
Konbu is good for you. It is a good source of dietary fibre. It is also known for reducing blood cholesterol and hypertension.
Konbu Seaweed Salad with Cucumber keeps well in the fridge for a couple of days, which is handy when you need another dish to add to the meal without increasing your calorie intake too much.
Konbu Seaweed and Cucumber Salad is a great way of eating a good amount of konbu, which is known for providing plenty of health benefits. It is a very refreshing salad with a hint of ginger flavour. The total calorie of this salad is very low – less than 100 calories per serving!
To make it a vegetarian dish, use shiro dashi that is made of twice as much konbu and omit bonito flakes.
Total Time includes the time to soak the konbu in water for 3 hours.
Don't forget to see the section 'MEAL IDEAS' below the recipe card! It gives you a list of dishes that I have already posted and this recipe so you can make up a complete meal. I hope it is of help to you.
- 25g / 0.9oz konbu (dried kelp, note 1)
- 70 / 2.5oz cucumber cut to 3mm / ⅛" thick, 5cm / 2" long matchsticks (note 2)
- 2 tsp grated ginger
- 1 tbsp shiro dashi
- 1 tsp soy sauce
- 2 tsp rice wine vinegar
- Shallots/scallions (white part) finely julienned
Add the konbu and 3 cups of water to a saucepan and leave it for 3 hours.
Bring the water with the konbu to a boil. As soon as small bubbles start forming at the bottom of the pan, turn the heat off and remove the konbu from pan (note 3).
Roll the konbu piece lengthwise, and flatten the roll to make it a narrow 3-layered konbu. Then cut it crosswise very finely (note 4).
Combine the konbu, cucumber and ginger in a bowl and mix well.
Add the Dressing ingredients to the bowl and mix.
Transfer the salad to a serving bowl, topped with julienned shallots/scallions.
1. Do not use many small pieces of konbu to make up for the amount required. If possible, use one large piece with the full width of the konbu, or 2-3 pieces at most. Otherwise the length of the strands of the konbu may become too short.
After boiling my konbu, it weighed about 100g / 3.5oz.
Whenever I make dashi stock with konbu and bonito flakes, I freeze the used konbu. When enough amount of konbu pieces are accumulated, I use them to make a salad like today’s dish.
2. I slice the cucumber diagonally into 3mm thick, then pile up few slices and cut them lengthwise to make matchsticks. This method of cutting the cucumbers results in all the matchsticks with green ends and they looks nicer in the salad.
I used cucumber pieces to go with shredded konbu but you don't have to have cucumbers or you can replace them with other vegetables strips such as carrot or bean sprouts.
3. The reamining liquid is actually a konbu dashi that you can use for other dishes. You can keep konbu dashi for 3 days in the fridge.
Although it will lose a bit of flavour, you can freeze konbu dashi for 2-3 weeks. Divide the broth into smaller portions and freeze them. Thaw naturally in the fridge before using.
4. I find that the konbu julienned crosswise are softer than those julienned lengthwise. It must be due to the way kelp is structured.
Thinly julienned konbu is called 'kiri konbu' (切り昆布). You can buy dried kiri konbu from Japanese grocery stores. See the sample photo in my post.
5. Shredded Konbu Salad can keep for a couple of days in the fridge
6. Nutrition per serving.
serving: 38g calories: 24kcal fat: 0.1g (0%) saturated fat: 0g (0%) trans fat: 0.0g polyunsaturated fat: 0g monounsaturated fat: 0g cholesterol: 0.6mg (0%) sodium: 194mg (8%) potassium: 51mg (1%) carbohydrates: 3.3g (1%) dietary fibre: 0.2g (1%) sugar: 1.7g protein: 0.7g vitamin a: 0.5% vitamin c: 1.2% calcium: 1.3% iron: 1.6%