30 July 2022

The 12 Best Kombu Substitutes for Your Recipes

By Killian

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

However, Kombu may not be the easiest ingredient to find. Yeah looking for the best kombu substitute, You have come to the right place! Through their experience, our top chefs were able to determine which item would be the best kombu substitute in various recipes.

As a result, we have information on a variety of intriguing products that can be used as kombu substitutesSo keep reading to find out more.

The Best Kombu Substitutes

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

Since Kombu is so popular and also not the cheapest ingredient, it’s hard to come by, so you may want to keep a substitute on hand before you start cooking.

Also, although Kombu is best known as Dashi, it can also be used as a tea, in baking, in various soups such as miso and tofu soups, and in many other ways. It is a tasty and versatile ingredient with a high content of glutamic acid, which gives it a distinctive flavor.

Keep in mind the ingredients that can include Kombu in any form when selecting the right one, and if such an option is not available, we have prepared many types of Kombu substitutes.

1. Kombu granules

The easiest method to find an alternative to Kombu is to use certain articles that include it in various forms. The best known is Kombu granules, commonly known as Hondashi (it is a trademark).

Kombu is often combined in the pellets with dried bonito chips, dried sardines, or even dried shiitake mushrooms. It is a fantastic ingredient for various stews, mixed rice, and the renowned Dashi.

Kombu granules are usually easier to find, but keep in mind that they don’t add any spice to the food and you should adjust the amount of salt to your preference.

2. Kombu tea

If you are looking for a substitute for dry Kombu, Kombu tea may be a good option. It is created from finely chopped dried Kombu, which can be used to make a drink or broth in a pinch.

It’s a great item to have on hand because it has a long shelf life, but keep in mind that it can include a variety of flavors (plum being the most popular addition). Therefore, use only pure Kombu tea in your Dashi or as a spice in other meals.

It will have the same color and flavor, so you will only have to add additional ingredients.

3. Ajinomoto

If you want to make a classic Japanese meal but don’t have Kombu, you should familiarize yourself with some of the more popular brands on the market. One of them is Ajinomoto.

This Dashi Substitute Kombu is actually a monosodium glutamate salt. Although it is not the healthiest option, it will improve the flavor and aroma of your food.

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

4. Chicken broth

When many cooks think of Kombu, the first thing that comes to mind is the Dashi that is made from it. So if you’re looking for a Kombu substitute for Dashi, chicken broth might be the easiest option, and one of the best.

You can create your own chicken stock from scratch using poultry and vegetables, or you can buy ready-made stock and cubes.

You can add a few mushrooms of your choice for more flavor and umami. This will give the food an earthier flavor, similar to Kombu.

5. Dried Shiitake Broth

Dried shiitake stock is an excellent substitute for Dashi or Kombu stock. This one is a bit unusual, so be patient.

Pick a few high-quality mushrooms, soak them in water, and refrigerate for 6-12 hours to make the best shiitake broth. Each mushroom will need about 100 ml of water or a cup.

If you’re in a hurry, you can boil the dried shiitake to make the broth, but it will have more flavor if you leave it overnight. If you add a little basil, parsley and oregano to the shiitake broth, it becomes much more flavorful.

Since it has the same glutamic acid as Japanese Kombu, it is one of the healthiest and most delicious alternatives, and mushrooms can also be used in food.

6. Other algae

Kombu comes in many forms, but at its core it’s just a type of seaweed. This means there are a few more algae alternatives.

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

Also, some of the seaweed mentioned is easier to find and less expensive than Kombu.

7. Bonito soup broth

Bonito may not be well known, but it is a great substitute for Kombu and is often added to various Kombu pellets. It is actually dried fish flakes that can be cooked to make a delicious broth for various Japanese dishes.

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

8. Dried tomato

This may be an unexpected alternative to the Kombu on our list, but it can be a fantastic addition to some meals. Dried tomato is the best option in this case, as it can be used to make stock by simmering it for a few minutes and draining the water, or leaving it in a jar overnight.

Since tomato has the same acids as Kombu, it is a great alternative, but keep in mind that the color will be different. Therefore, it can be used in stews and other colored foods, but not in clear Japanese broths.

9. Soy sauce

Soy sauce is another easy-to-find and easy-to-use kombu substitute. This is especially beneficial in recipes where Kombu is used as a spice and to add umami flavor.

Since the soy sauce will be salty, keep in mind that you only need a small amount for cooking. It is also one of the components that would affect the color of the food, making it unsuitable for light Japanese soups.

10. Beef broth

Like chicken broth, beef broth can be used as a flavor substitute for Kombu in miso soup and other broths. Beef takes longer to cook if you make it from scratch, but there are ready-made options.

For best results, complement the meat broth with mushrooms and spices.

11. White fish

If you like Bonito broth, you can make it with any type of white fish you have on hand. It will be a light broth to which you can add spices if you want it to taste more like Kombu.

It will be light in color and the ideal consistency to mix with other foods, especially rice and tofu. Keep in mind that some additional spices will be needed to give it more flavor.

12. Mentsuyu

Mentsuyu is a famous Japanese spice that is prepared with Dashi, soy sauce, salt, and sugar, among other ingredients. It can be an excellent alternative to Kombu, as the term Komu-Dashi on the packaging indicates.

It comes in liquid form and tastes wonderfully salty, but use it sparingly as it is quite strong.

How to Choose a Kombu Substitute

Choosing the best Kombu substitute can be easier than you think. Due to the delicate balance that Japanese cuisine requires, you must be especially careful when choosing your components and adding flavors.

That is why it is essential to determine what the Kombu is going to be used for before making the decision to replace it. Since this ingredient is so flexible, there are a few considerations to keep in mind.

For the preparation of the famous Dashi from Kombu, a delicious but not colored component is needed. In this case, Kombu pellets, Kombu tea, chicken or shiitake broth 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 aroma and flavor, but they cannot have any color.

As Kombu is becoming more and more popular, it is used in various cuisines. That is why it can be a wonderful complement to stews and mixed rice dishes, for example.

It’s fine to use any of the listed substitutes, but if you want to go vegetarian, stick with seaweed like Hijiki and Wakame instead of other options. If you don’t mind not eating meat, Bonito and white fish broths, as well as chicken and veal broths, are excellent complements to these meals.

Kombu is not only used in cooking, as one might expect, but also in baking. Therefore, you can incorporate a small amount of dried and crushed Kombo into your flour mixture, and if you don’t have Kombo on hand, you can substitute Kombo granules or Kombo tea.

There is another exciting new dish that you can try: Kombu Butter, which is delicious with steaks, lamb and roasted vegetables. If you want to make it but you don’t have Kombu on hand, you can use Ajinomoto granules or Ajinomoto powder; the flavor will be the same, just be careful not to overdo the salt, or it will be too salty.

For a Japanese sauce, you can swap out the Kombu for soy sauce or Mentsuyu, but keep in mind that both are quite salty, so you’ll need to tweak the other ingredients to compensate.

As you can see, Kombu is a fantastic complement to a wide variety of Japanese foods, and its use is growing all over 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 tons of tips and methods to cook the best possible meal.