My friend Happy commented at yesterday's post with some questions about kombu seaweed (also known as a sea vegetable). She got her first-ever bag of Maine Coast Kombu from a Whole Foods Market she traveled quite a distance to, brought it home ... then wondered how to get it from the package to the soup, how to store it afterwards, how long it lasts and how much to eat.
These questions prompted me to pull out the camera, the seaweed, and to stage a little show-and-tell. In the above photo, I placed some Eden brand kombu on the left and Maine Coast wakame on the right. (I only added the wakame to show that I support (and buy) locally when available (the Maine Coast Brand). Two different types and brands that I buy and like. The Eden brand in this case is from Japan ... but back to the picture.) In the foreground is a strip of kombu on the left, and a strip of wakame on right so you can see what it actually looks like out of the bag.
You'll notice that I pulled off a few pieces of kombu, each about the size of a postage stamp, and put one in some water so that you can see what it looks like when it's reconstituted (the seaweed is dried to preserve it). To reconstitute, just place the piece of kombu in some water for a few minutes (maybe 5). Reconstituting makes it easier to cut into small pieces before adding to the soup, and it also washes off extra salt.
So, I know you're thinking, "what about the wakame?" Same deal ... if I were adding to a soup, I'd break off about an inch worth. Sometimes I use kombu; other times I use wakame.
How do I store it afterwards? I either keep it in the plastic bag (the Maine Coast bag is resealable), or I put it in a glass jar with a lid (the same way I store my grains). It keeps for a very long time since it's dried ... I'm guessing a few years, but you'll probably (hopefully!) eat it before then. This would be a great question for the new forum on Maine Coast 's Web site! ... Will it last forever?!
And to answer the question "How much do I eat?" ... Personally, I use the kombu and wakame for cooking beans and to add to soups (helps with digesting the beans) and I only use small amounts ... the general rule with seaweed is more is not better ... a little adds a lot of minerals. If I eat more, it's to eat arame seaweed ... about 1/4 of a cup a serving ... but, that is another post entirely.