Hello from my cozy home in the redwoods. I love fall and the smells of scrumptious comfort foods, either cooking in the oven or simmering on the stovetop. One of my favorite dishes to make during the chilly season is beans! I love all kinds of beans (pinto, black, fava, black eyed peas, lima…). You name the bean and I love to cook and season it.
One of the ways I prepare and then cook beans is by using the seaweed kombu.
- First, I choose a type of bean (or multiple beans), and put them in water to soak.
- I then take 2-3 strips of kombu and add to the soaking beans.
- After about 8 hours, I drain the water, rinse the beans and put the soaked seaweed into my compost bucket.*
- I add fresh water, turn on beans to cook and then add more kombu, cut into 1-2 inch pieces, to cook into the beans. By the time the beans are cooked, the kombu is cooked right in with its deeply savory umami flavor.
(*) I usually soak my beans + kombu overnight, so they are super ready to cook the next day.
The amino acids and enzymes in kombu help soften beans and make them more digestible. This is accomplished by breaking down the raffinose sugars in the beans which are the gas-producing culprits. You also get the added benefit of many, many trace minerals from the kombu.
Seaweed is the most mineralized vegetable on earth. It contains all 56 elements essential for our health, in a similar ratio to human blood. It is also a good source of fiber, protein, calcium, iron and iodine. In fact, it is the only “vegetable” to contain iodine, and in our iodine poor soils, it is a welcome addition to any diet. Seaweed is low in calories and fat and called by many a “superfood of the sea”.
Other things I like to use kombu for include: adding it to my rice or quinoa (cut into small pieces), adding to stews and stir-fried dishes, making the Japanese soup stock called Dashi, and believe it or not, I bathe with it! I love to take long hot bathes when I have a chance, and slip a 6-inch piece of kombu into my bath. I then soak in the mineralized water and rub my skin with the kombu, feeling the slippery luxury of the seaweed. Thalassotherapy is a long tradition in ocean communities around the world.
Our skin is an amazing organ and we are able to soak up the properties of kombu through it. One of the properties in kombu is glutamic acid which helps stabilize the pH of the skin and acts as a very effective moisturizer or humectant on the skin. AND, kombu contains magnesium, in a suitable form for the skin. It’s a very relaxing addition to any bath! If you don’t want the seaweed floating around in your bath, you can boil water with the seaweed in it, and then add the water to your bath. Personally, I like the slippery seaweeds rubbed on my skin!
This month only, we are offering a free 1-ounce bag of kombu with any purchase of $60 or more.
This way, you can try it in beans, soups, rice, salads and in the bath! Let me know how you use kombu!
In the meantime, enjoy the photo above – a fun family picture drying kombu with my grandsons; and the photo below – harvesting kombu during a foraging class.
Until next time!