Tororo Kombu: How to Use Kelp Shavings
Have you ever heard of “Tororo Kombu (とろろ昆布)” or eaten Japanese dishes with the food material?
What is Tororo Kombu?
“Tororo Kombu (とろろ昆布: literally grated yam kombu)”, also known as “Kezuri Kombu (削りこんぶ: shaved kombu)”, is a Japanese processed food made by thinly shaving the kombu (edible kelp seaweed) block that’s been softened in vinegar and dried.
The dry, long, thin strips of seaweed flakes become mushy like grated yam once you pour hot water onto them, which is why it is called Tororo Kombu. In Japan, the majority of commercial Tororo Kombu products are sold unseasoned, so they can be used in a variety of dishes in various ways.
Actually, the kelp shavings Tororo Kombu is really easy to use. In many cases, we simply add some Tororo Kombu flakes to some food and just season with soy sauce. Are you curious about specific uses of Tororo Kombu? For those who answer yes to this question, here let me introduce typical ways we Japanese use it.
As the main ingredient in soup
Tororo Kombu is most commonly used as the main ingredient in soup dishes. How to make the kelp soup is basically very straightforward like this; First, put some Tororo Kombu shavings in a bowl, pour boiling water, and season with soy sauce. That’s it!
This is the easiest way to make Tororo Kombu soup, but the simple seaweed soup has a great potential to get more delicious, so let’s add some finishing touches to the bowl if you come up with ideas.
For example, we often garnish the soup with some toppings, such as “Umeboshi (梅干し)” plums, “Katsuobushi (鰹節)” bonito shavings, dried shrimps, “Shirasu-Boshi (しらす干し)” whitebait, finely chopped green onions and Myoga, or “Fu (麩)” bread-like pieces of dried wheat gluten.
In addition, some Japanese like eating Tororo Kombu soup, sprinkling some “Ajinomoto” (Amazon.com) powder.
As another usage, some Japanese like topping noodle soup, such as Ramen, Udon, or Soba, with the shaved kelp. As a matter of fact, Tororo Kombu pairs well with various types of soup, which include consommé soup and miso soup.
Tororo Kombu Onigiri
When making “Onigiri (おにぎり)” rice balls, we sometimes use the kelp shavings for the covering, instead of a dry sheet of Nori seaweed. Tororo Kombu Onigiri actually has another version which is made by mixing up steamed plain rice and the flakes.
As a topping
Tororo Kombu is often used as a topping in a wide range of dishes. In fact, it works well with almost any food, including Ramen, Udon, Soba, vegetable salads, simmered dishes, tofu, and even natto. As an example, you will be able to enjoy cold tofu much better if you put some Tororo Kombu flakes on top of it and season with Ponzu sauce.