The 12 Best Kombu Substitutes For Your Recipes

Kombu is a famous ingredient in Japanese cuisine because it’s used to make Dashi broth, which is a very versatile type of broth.

However, Kombu might not be the easiest ingredient to find. If you’re looking for the greatest kombu replacement, you’ve come to the right place! Thanks to their expertise, our top chefs were able to determine which item would be the best substitute for Kombu in various recipes.

As a result, we have information on a variety of intriguing products that may be used as Kombu substitutes, so keep reading to learn more.

The best substitutes for Kombu

Kombu is a prominent seaweed in Japanese cuisine that is used to produce the famous Dashi broth. This broth is then utilized in a variety of different recipes to provide a distinct flavor, or umami, as it is known in Japan.

Because Kombu is so popular and not the most inexpensive ingredient either, it’s hard to obtain, so you might want to have a substitute on hand before you start cooking.

Furthermore, while Kombu is most known for Dashi, it may also be used as a tea, in baking, in various soups such as miso and tofu soup, and in a variety of other ways. It’s a tasty and versatile ingredient high in glutamic acid, which gives it a distinct flavor.

Consider ingredients that may include Kombu in any form when selecting the correct one, and if an option like this one is unavailable, we have prepared many types of Kombu substitutes.

1. Kombu granules

The easiest method to find a Kombu alternative is to use certain items that include Kombu in various ways. The most well-known is Kombu granules, commonly known as Hondashi (this is a brand name).

Kombu is frequently combined with dried bonito shavings, dried sardines, or even dried shiitake mushrooms in the granules. It’s a fantastic ingredient to various stews, mixed rice, and the renowned Dashi.

Kombu granules are frequently easier to find but bear in mind that they do not contribute any spice to the meal and that you must adjust the quantity of salt to your preference.

2. Kombu tea

If you’re seeking a dried Kombu substitute, Kombu tea could be a good option. It’s created from dried and finely chopped Kombu, which may be used to make a beverage or stock in a rush.

It’s a fantastic item to keep on hand because it has a lengthy shelf life, but keep in mind that it might include a variety of tastes (plum is the most popular addition). As a result, use only pure Kombu tea in your Dashi or as a spice in other meals.

It will have the same color and flavor, so all you need to do is add extra ingredients.

3. Ajinomoto

If you want to make a classic Japanese meal but are out of Kombu, you should become familiar with some of the most popular brands on the market. One of them is Ajinomoto.

This Kombu replacement for Dashi is actually a salt of monosodium glutamate. While it may not be the healthiest option, it will improve the flavor and scent of your food.

Keep in mind that the Ajinomoto is extremely salty, therefore the rest of the ingredients will need to be adjusted.

4. Chicken stock

When many cooks think of Kombu, the first item that comes to mind is the Dashi that is prepared from it. So, if you’re looking for a Kombu substitute for Dashi, chicken soup may be the simplest and one of the finest options.

You may create your own chicken stock from scratch using poultry meat and veggies, or you can purchase ready-made stock and cubes.

You may add a few mushrooms of your choosing for extra flavor and umami. This will give the meal a more earthy flavor, similar to Kombu.

5. Dried shiitake stock

The dried shiitake stock is an excellent replacement for Dashi or Kombu stock. This one is a little unusual, so bear with us.

Pick a few high-quality mushrooms, soak them in water and place them in the refrigerator for 6 to 12 hours to make the greatest shiitake stock. Each mushroom will require around 100ml of water or one cup.

If you’re in a rush, you may boil the dried shiitake to produce the stock, but it will have more flavor if you leave it overnight. If you add some basil, parsley, and oregano to the shiitake stock, it becomes much more flavorful.

Because it has the same glutamic acid as Japanese Kombu, it is one of the healthiest and most delicious alternatives, and the mushrooms may also be utilized in the meal.

6. Other seaweed

Kombu comes in a variety of forms, but at its core, it is simply a kind of seaweed. This means that there are a few more seaweed alternatives.

The most popular are wakame and hijiki seaweed, which may be used to add flavor to vegetarian recipes. You can also use them as a substitute for Kombu in salads and soups.

Furthermore, some of the seaweeds mentioned are easier to find and less expensive than Kombu.

7. Bonito soup stock

Bonito may not be well-known, but it’s a wonderful substitute for Kombu and is frequently added to various Kombu granules. It’s actually dried fish flakes that may be cooked to make a delicious stock for various Japanese dishes.

Bonito soup is created simply with dried fish and boiling water, and it just takes a few minutes to prepare. Make sure to drain the stock before using it, and season with salt to taste.

8. Dried tomato

This may be an unexpected alternative for Kombu on our list, but it may be a fantastic complement to some meals. Dried tomato is the greatest option here, since it may be used to make stock by simmering it for a few minutes and then draining the water, or by leaving it in a jar overnight.

Because tomatoes have the same acids as Kombu, it’s an excellent alternative, but keep in mind that the color will differ. As a result, it may be used in stews and other colorful meals but not in clear Japanese broths.

9. Soy sauce

Soy sauce is another easy-to-find and uses a Kombu substitute. This is especially beneficial in recipes when Kombu is used as a spice and to provide umami taste.

Because the soy sauce will be salty, bear in mind that you only need a small amount to cook with. It’s also one of the components that would affect the color of the meal, making it unsuitable for clear Japanese soups.

10. Beef broth

Just like chicken broth, beef broth may be used to replace the Kombu flavor in miso soup and other broths. Beef takes longer to cook if you make it from scratch, but there are ready-made choices.

To achieve the finest results, supplement the beef broth with mushrooms and spices.

11. White fish

If you enjoy the Bonito stock, you may make it with whatever type of white fish you have on hand. This will be a light stock to which you may add spice if you want it to taste more like Kombu.

It will be clear in color and the ideal consistency for mixing with other foods, particularly rice and tofu. Keep in mind that a few additional spices will be required to make it more flavorful.

12. Mentsuyu

Mentsuyu is a famous Japanese spice that is prepared using Dashi, soy sauce, salt, and sugar, among other ingredients. It can be an excellent alternative for Kombu, as indicated by the term Komu-Dashi on the package.

It comes in liquid form and has a salty and wonderful savory flavor, but use it sparingly because it is rather strong.

How to choose a Kombu substitute

Choosing the best Kombu substitute might be easier than you think. Because of the delicate balance that Japanese cuisine requires, you must be especially cautious when choosing your components and adding tastes.

This is why it’s critical to determine what the Kombu will be used for before making the decision to replace it. Due to the fact that this ingredient is so flexible, there are a few considerations to bear in mind.

A delicious yet non-colored component is required for the preparation of the famed Dashi from the Kombu. In this case, Kombu granules, Kombu tea, chicken, or shiitake stock are the most appropriate options to consider. 

Even the Ajinomoto, Honodashi, and beef broth are acceptable additions. For these dishes, however, avoid using tomato sauce and soy sauce as ingredients. Japanese soups may be bursting with scent and taste, but they aren’t allowed to have any color.

Because Kombu is growing increasingly popular, it is being used in a variety of cuisines. This is why it may be a wonderful addition to stews and mixed rice dishes, for example. 

It is fine to use any of the substitutes on the list, but if you want to make it vegetarian, stick to seaweeds like Hijiki and Wakame instead of other options. If you don’t mind not eating meat, the Bonito and whitefish stocks, as well as the chicken and beef stocks, are excellent additions to these meals.

Kombu is not just used in cooking, as one might expect, but it is also used in baking. As a result, you may incorporate a little amount of dried and crushed Kombo into your flour mixture, and if you don’t have any Kombo on hand, you can substitute it with granules or Kombo tea.

There is another fascinating and new dish to try: Kombu butter, which is delicious with steaks, lamb, and roasted vegetables. If you wish to make it but don’t have any Kombu on hand, you may use Ajinomoto granules or Ajinomoto powder the flavor will be the same, just be careful not to overdo it with the salt, or it will become too salty.

For a Japanese sauce, you may swap the Kombu with soy sauce or Mentsuyu, but keep in mind that both are rather salty, so you will need to alter the other ingredients to compensate for this.

As you can see, Kombu is a fantastic complement to a variety of Japanese meals, and its use is growing increasingly across the world. 

When it comes to substituting Kombu if you don’t have any on hand or need a quick fix, you now have 12 different possibilities, as well as lots of tips and methods to cook the greatest meal ever!

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