Konbumaki are little simmered bundles of tender konbu (often spelled “kombu”) kelp containing chicken or pork, along with vegetables.
Jade, who regularly assists in the test kitchen as well as customer service, created this recipe during a test kitchen session with our boneless quail breasts. Here’s what she had to say about its genesis:
“Konbumaki is a New Year’s dish, so I thought it’d fit in well with the holidays. It’s also a staple dish in Okazuya restaurants, which are my favorite breakfast when I’m back home in Hawaii. It’s visually stunning, but not too much work (especially with a lot of family members helping out!).
The small and consistent size of the quail breasts makes them a really easy substitute for rolled dishes like Konbumaki – they’re easy to cut to the size you need.” Jade
6-8 Appetizer or 3-4 Entrée Servings
Each bundle is tied with an edible cord called kanpyo, which is made of calabash gourd shavings. It’s sold dried in many Asian grocery stores or can be purchased online.
Jade says that when buying the konbu for this dish, it’s important to get “nishime” or “oden” konbu, rather than the konbu sold for making dashi broth (which is thicker & will rehydrate too tough for chewing).
- 1 package Nishime/Oden Konbu Kelp
- 20 Boneless Quail Breasts, thinly sliced
- 2 Carrots, peeled & cut into matchsticks
- 5 Fresh Shiitake Mushrooms, destemmed & thinly sliced
- 1 Burdock Root (gobo in Japanese)
- 1 package Kanpyo
- Simmering Liquid
- 2 cups Water, plus extra as needed
- ½ cup Soy Sauce
- ½ cup Granulated Sugar
- 2 cloves of Garlic, smashed
- 6 slices of Ginger, peeled
- 1 tbsp Mirin (sweet rice wine)
“Kobomaki can take two hours to braise if you’re using chicken thigh or pork, so I typically cut the burdock thicker, but quail breasts are much more delicate, so they’re going to cook for less time.”
“I like to leave the kanpyo strand whole, tie a bundle, then cut off the excess. I find it’s easier to handle than cutting & tying short lengths.”
“Simmer in water first – if you simmer in soy the whole time it’ll be way too salty.”