Hi, I’m Francis, the host of this show “Cooking with Dog.” Konnichiwa. This fabulous kombu seaweed is a gift from one of our fans. Today, with this kombu, we are making Kobujime, a local dish in the Toyama Prefecture. The ingredients will absorb the savory umami of the kombu, making them more delicious. First, let’s clean the surface of the kombu seaweed with a kitchen brush. You can also wipe the kombu with a tightly squeezed kitchen towel. However, the white powder is the crystallized form of the umami and contains much of the flavor so don’t remove it. Next, mist both sides of the kombu with sake. You can also dampen a paper towel with sake and gently wipe the kombu. Place one sheet of kombu onto a tray covered with plastic wrap. If you can’t use sake, dilute vinegar with the same amount of water and use it instead. Now, you have 2 sheets of kombu seaweed to sandwich the ingredients. If a large sheet of kombu isn’t available, you can arrange these strips of kombu instead. Today, we are also using spinach so boil it and cut into 2~3 cm (0.8″~1.2″) pieces beforehand. Kobujime can be made with a block of fish but we are using sliced sashimi to make the kobujime quickly. Slice the tai, red sea bream, into relatively thick 8 mm (0.3″) slices using diagonal cuts. Arrange the slices onto the kombu seaweed but keep them from overlapping each other. A light taste of white-fleshed fish goes excellent with kombu’s savory umami flavor so red seabream, hirame, suzuki or salmon are often used in this dish. Make a narrow space in the middle of the kombu and place the boiled spinach onto it. You can also use komatsuna spinach, broccoli or asparagus spears instead. When you sandwich vegetables, be sure to make the height level with the sashimi. If uneven, the kombu and ingredients are not firmly attached together so the kombu’s flavor doesn’t transfer to them and sashimi may spoil quickly. When the kombu is covered with the ingredients, place another kombu on top. Tightly wrap it with plastic wrap. Place a light weight like a flat plate onto it and refrigerate for about 3 to 4 hours. Let’s check the inside. The sea bream has firmly stuck to the kombu so carefully peel the sheet off. The color has become slightly translucent, and the texture is firmer and chewier than before! We tried several versions of this recipe by changing the thickness of sashimi and the refrigeration time. Our favorite recipe is letting 1 cm (0.4″) thick sashimi sit in the fridge for 6 to 8 hours. The tai has fully absorbed the rich umami flavor, and the texture is chewy but not too firm. Avoid letting the kobujime sit too long otherwise tai becomes too firm like gummy bears. Kobujime may produce sticky strings but they are the part of the kombu components so don’t worry about it. Place the spinach onto a plate and arrange the sea bream slices. Enjoy the kobujime with wasabi soy sauce to taste. Kobujime was originally developed to preserve fresh fish for a longer time. In Toyama Prefecture, they even kobujime-nize seasonal vegetables and tofu! The texture becomes much chewier, and the umami of kombu seaweed deliciously brings out the flavor. The leftover kombu can be used to make a dashi stock or enjoyed as an ingredient in oden, a type of hot pot or nimono, a Japanese stew. Good luck in the kitchen!