Kitamaebune (literally, northern-bound ships) was a shipping route for commerce between Hokkaido and Honshu for about 100 years from the 1790’s. The products of Hokkaido were delivered to Osaka, which was both the starting point and the terminal, and the kelp culture was spread over Osaka.
Tororokonbu (tangle flakes of kelp) and oborokonbu (shredded kelp), which was achieved by cutlery technology in Sakai, tsukudani (a preserved food made by cooking fish, shellfish, kelp, animal meat, vegetables, etc. in sweetened soy sauce) which was created by the encounter with soy sauce in Wakayama, and konbudashi (kelp broth) most of all, formed the foundation of Japanese Cuisine that we Japanese should be proud of.
Ma-Konbu (L. Japonica) produced in the Donan region (Southern Hokkaido) has been most highly valued among the various kelps produced in Hokkaido. It is characterized by its rich but also sophisticated umami (pleasant savory taste). We create our products mainly with the wild L. Japonica produced in Kakkumi-hama which is the most highly appreciated for its quality among the Ma-Konbu.
[Typical types of Konbu]
[Of the three types of Konbu; Ma-Konbu (L. Japonica), Rausu-Konbu and Rishiri-Konbu, farmed kelp exists in addition to the wild. Even if it is the same species, the quality varies significantly, depending on the region of collection and whether it is farmed or wild.]
Ma-Konbu (L. Japonica)
This type makes a clear broth, having strong umami and a sophisticated flavor. It is not only used for making broth, but is also suitable as an ingredient in tsukudani (a preserved food made by cooking fish, shellfish, kelp, animal meat, vegetables, etc. in sweetened soy sauce) of kelp and of tororokonbu.
Produced along the Rausu coast of Eastern Hokkaido, it is characterized by its very intense umami taste. It tends to produce a slightly cloudy broth, but it is still a high-quality kelp.
Produced near Rishiri Island, Rebun Island and along the Wakkanai coast of Northern Hokkaido, it produces a clear and simple broth, although its umami is less intense than that of Ma-Konbu or Rausu-Konbu.
As it has a pleasant texture and can be rapidly cooked until soft, it is suitable to be eaten by itself in dishes like kobu-maki (kelp roll) or in stewed foods, rather than for making broth.
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