NY101: Konbu maki

Grandma Hughes is always in charge of konbu maki and konbu maki is part of the Osechi-ryōri, the traditional Japanese foods that are served in a laquered box. In Japan, all the food needs to be done before New Year's day because it's bad luck to use a knife on New Year's day. The konbu maki won't spoil and it can last for several days in the refrigerator.

Konbu is the large, thick sheets of seaweed that you buy dry. Grandma puts pork belly in the middle and wraps it with kampyō, long dried strips of a gourd that's soaked to soften and used to tie the konbu maki ("seaweed wrap"). The whole thing is cooked in a shoyu-sugar broth. Kampyō is also used in maki sushi.

Why eat it?
 Konbu, sometimes pronounced kobu is similar to the word yorokobu or happiness, joy. Another wish.

How to make it
  • Soak konbu and kanpyo
  • Soak some shiitake
  • Cut up pork chops, or pork belly into bite sized pieces (use pork chops if you're concerned about fat)
  • Wrap the pork with the softened konbu and tie with kanpyo to make little bundles
  • Mix brown sugar and Club shoyu (grandma says NOT to use Kikoman - too salty) to taste and add slivered ginger and 2-3 cloves of garlic and some liquid from the soaked shiitake (there won't be much liquid) - the liquid should be about 3/4 cup at the most.
  • Put it in a pot and let it slow simmer. The liquid will rise.
  • Every so often toss the pot so the konbu gets evenly basted.
  • Cook for about 45 minutes to 1 hour.


  1. Thank you for this! I bought the dried pre made ones...no pork belly, alas, but had no idea how to cook them, so this was a wonderful find. Happy New Year! --Cathy in California

  2. Wonderful, Cathy! Hope you have a yorokobu year!


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