What are Oboro Kombu, Tororo Kombu, and Shio Kombu?

“Kombu (昆布)” is the Japanese word for edible kelp seaweed, from which Japanese soup stock “Dashi (出汁)“, the base for various dishes in Japanese cuisine, is often taken.

In Japan, Kombu is not only prepared for making Dashi, but a range of Japanese processed foods, from candies to accompaniments for the staple of the Japanese, are made with the edible seaweed.

Representative examples of such processed kelp products include “Tororo Kombu (とろろ昆布)”, “Oboro Kombu (おぼろ昆布)”, and “Shio Kombu (塩昆布)”.

The Difference between Tororo Kombu, Oboro Kombu, and Shio Kombu

In fact, we like eating such processed seaweed with steamed plain rice, but do you know how Tororo Kombu, Oboro Kombu, and Shio Kombu are different from one another?

For those who have never heard of these Japanese processed kelp, today I will talk about the difference between them.

Tororo Kombu (とろろ昆布)

Tororo Kombu

Tororo Kombu is a common processed food in Japan which is made by thinly shaving the dried kelp block that has been softened in vinegar.

As shown above, the Japanese food consists of dry long thin thread-like strips of kelp.

Tororo Kombu Soup

The thread-form dry seaweed, Tororo Kombu is most often used as a main ingredient in soup in Japan.

Once the shaved kelp is soaked in hot water, it becomes mushy like grated yum. This is why Tororo Kombu has the word “Tororo (とろろ)” meaning grated yum in the name.

In addition to the use in soup, some Japanese like making “Onigiri (おにぎり)” rice balls with the dried kelp flakes, instead of a dry sheet of Nori seaweed.

What is more, Tokoro Kombu pairs well with almost any food as a topping. If you want to know how to use the Japanese kelp flakes in detail, this article will help.

Oboro Kombu (おぼろ昆布)

Oboro KombuImage : Amazon.co.jp

Oboro Kombu is a processed kelp seaweed similar to Tororo Kombu in that it is made by shaving dried kelp.

Regarding the primary difference, Tororo Kombu is usually produced by machine and comes in thread form, while Oboro Kombu are very thin, dry sheets of kelp made by artisan’s hand labor.

Source : Youtube 職人の技! 手すき おぼろ昆布

In general, the quality of edible kelp used for producing Oboro Kombu is high, and as you can see in the video, to make Oboro Kombu, the artisan shaves off thin layers from the surface of the high-quality kelp.

Accordingly, Oboro Kombu is usually more expensive than Tororo Kombu. As far as the uses go, there is not much difference between Oboro Kombu and Tororo Kombu.

Shio Kombu (塩昆布)

Shio Kombu

Shio Kombu is a Japanese processed kelp seaweed quite different from Tororo Kombu and Oboro Kombu. Shio Kombu are thin short strips of simmered kelp with salt coating.

Although the majority of Tororo Kombu and Oboro Kombu are sold unseasoned, the strips of Shio Kombu are boiled down with soy sauce and salt.

Rice with Shio Kombu

Hence, unlike Tororo Kombu and Oboro Kombu, the salted kelp Shio Kombu has some moisture.

The thin short strips are crunchy in texture and can be eaten as they are, though they are pretty salty. Therefore, we typically eat Shio Kombu strips with plain white rice.

Vegetable Salad with Shio Kombu

Additionally, the Japanese salted kelp goes especially well with fresh vegetables since it contains lots of umami and salt. For the in-depth information on how to use Shio Kombu, please visit this article.

(Reference pages of this article : Wikipedia とろろ昆布, 塩昆布, Konbumura )


Hi, I'm Tomo, a Japanese blogger living in Niigata Prefecture, Japan. For the purpose of enriching your life, I would like to introduce things about Japan on this blog, especially unique Japanese products, cooking recipes, cultures, and facts and trivia.

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