Kombu seaweed comes in strips around 10cm long and around 2cm wide. Once soaked, it looks a little like a dark tagliatelli. It is very commonly used in Japanese soup-based dishes, and contains natural glutamic acid that draws out the flavours of other foods. Kombu seaweed is a Japanese form of Kelp, of which there are thousands of different species. Clearspring Kombu is made from a species known as Laminaria japonica.
Kombu seaweed is especially high in iodine, which is a trace mineral required for a wide variety of bodily functions. As with most seaweeds, Kombu is also high in many other minerals, fibre and iron.
Kombu is usually soaked before use, and boiled with the soup in order to soften it. When added to beans, the amino acids in Kombu help to soften them and make them more digestible. Kombu is thus a useful additive to bean-based dishes, to make them easier on the stomach and to prevent flatulence.