This is typically served as a New Year’s day dish. The reason, I think, is that “kelp” in Japanese is “kobu” こぶ or “Konbu” 昆布 which sounds like a part of the phrase “yorokobu” よろこぶ meaning rejoice. In any case, I did not make kelp rolls until last year. Once I made them, we realized how much better they could be than the commercial ones (even compared to an expensive variety from Hokkaido that my friends sent me one year). Since I did not post how to make this last year, I decided to post it this year.
The picture above shows the salmon kelp roll served with my marinated salmon as a drinking snack; both were leftover from New Year’s dishes. The kelp rolls are not too difficult to make and the effort is definitely worth it. I made this based on a recipe from e-recipe but I made the seasoning much lighter than they suggested.
I rolled the kelp around the salmon strip in the center and tied it off in two places using the kanpyou as shown below (this pictures is after cooking). I placed all 4 rolls in a shallow pan in which they fit snuggly (I used a square Pyrex baking pan with a glass lid). I then poured in the kelp soaking liquid. Since I also had a soaking liquid left over from rehydrating dried shiitake mushrooms (used in another dish), and the mushrooms had imparted some good flavor to the liquid I also added that. I added sake (2-3 tbs) as well. The kelp rolls should be just covered with water. I simmered it with the lid on for 1 hour or until the kelp is soft.
Seasoning: The seasoning is essentially sweet and salty (soy sauce) which is a typical Japanese seasoning. As a rule, the “sweet” of the seasoning is added first. So I added sugar (1 tsp) over the rolls and let it simmer for 5 minutes with an otoshibuta 落 とし蓋. I then added more sugar (1 tsp) and soy sauce (1 tbs) and simmered it for 10-15 minutes. At the end of cooking, the liquid was reduced in half. At the very end, I added mirin (2 tsp) and soy sauce (2 tsp) for a fresh taste. Again, the seasoning is up to your liking; you could add more sugar, mirin and soy sauce. I did not want to season it too strongly. I let it cool in the cooking liquid. The picture above shows it after it cooled and was ready to be cut.