One of the places we are going to next month on our Japan tour is a konbu store in Hokkaido called Konbu-Kan. We went there last year too, but I was totally unprepared and ended up not really getting anything worthwhile. I bought some konbu salt, konbu tea, konbu candy and maybe one package of dashi konbu for Wendell. I decided to study up a bit on the different konbu varieties. I've ended up focusing on trying to find a soft-version konbu for nishime and konbu maki. A coworker who is originally from Okinawa recommended Ne-konbu from Hokkaido. She said that if you cook any konbu long enough it will become soft, but the ne-konbu requires less cooking. I found the package below from Marukai. The writing on the right with the red background says Hokkaido. The kanji 根 circled in green is "ne". It means "root" . . . so it's the root portion of the kelp.
My da-bomb-husband Wendell used it to make this nishime. The konbu really was softer than usual. I liked it.
And it was even better the next day as leftover home lunch.
I asked Wendell if the konbu pieces were big enough to make konbu maki. He said that there were a few pieces that were big enough, but mostly they were narrow. One of Didi's coworkers is from Hokkaido. She recommended hidaka 日高konbu. Sure enough, Cook Tokyo website says this: Hidaka Konbu, another good all-rounder for both making dashi and eating, as it softens quickly when simmered. It is blackish green in colour, longer and thinner than other konbu and produces a light greenish-yellow dashi. Because its edges are not as ruffled as the others it is often used for rolling or wrapping foods.
Interesting . . . no? Another interesting thing . . . you know how Japanese kanji always has two different readings just to make it hard for us to learn? Well, 根 (ne) is also read "kon" and大根 is "dai-kon" . . . BIG ROOT! Cool, right? No? Okay, never mind. Here's the recipe that Wendell used to make the nishime.