I am home in Berkeley after taking a week-long road trip through the American southwest with fellow Umamimart writer Anders, bookended by a five-day trip in NYC. I am so excited to be back in my own kitchen that I've stocked up on everything from soft shell crab to chicken thighs for curry. But those ingredients will have to wait. The only thing I crave now is a bowl of hot white rice with some humble tsukudani.
Making kombu tsukudani served two purposes. Softening the kombu would serve as the base for my dashi. The kombu itself would later be seasoned for the most comforting meal I could think of after two weeks of:
Hiyashi Chuka at Menkui-tei, NYC
Artery clogging indulgences...
The Burger Joint, NYC
And perfect plates...
The Ra(m)p'n Scallop at Chez Yamahomo, NYC
It might seem redundant to post about another tsukudani recipe, but I found that the method for kombu tsukudani is a bit different from fish-shaving tsukudani.
1 square foot of kombu that has been used for extracting dashi brought back to room temperature.
4 tbsp shoyu (soy sauce)
4 tbsp mirin
4 tbsp sake
1 tbsp sugar
1 1/2 cups of dashi
1. Initial softening of kombu involves soaking it in water (room temperature) for at least 20 minutes. I let my kombu sit for about 40 minutes. I then made dashi out of it by adding fish shavings and bringing it up to a boil.
2. After bringing the liquid up to a boil, fish the kombu out of the pot and bring back to room temperature. The liquid is now dashi.
3. Cut kombu into 1/2 inch square or smaller if you prefer.
4. Place the shoyu, mirin, sake, sugar and 1/2 cup of dashi into a pot. Bring to a rolling boil (it'll happen quick).
5. On the lowest heat setting, add kombu squares to the pot. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes. Make sure to keep an eye on it so it doesn't start burning.
6. Add another 1/2 cup of dashi and simmer for another 20 minutes.
Continue repeating this step until the kombu softens. I found that my kombu was pretty hard and kept adding more dashi for the kombu to soak up. You should not have to tear the kombu with your teeth, it should fall apart easily when you bite into it. Other people may have different methods which I'd be happy to hear about.
7. Store in an air-tight jar or plastic container.
Jar it up!
Being cooked and cleaned for is paradise, but another kind of paradise is making your own food and putting leftovers in the fridge for later.