Seaweed isn't seaweed

Note to self, look at the quantity of a recipe before making it.

That out of the way, today I made a recipe from Tasting Table called Tuscan-Style Beans with Bacon and Kombu, adapted from Jesse Koide of Mission Chinese Food in San Francisco.

This recipe found its way into my inbox and it sounded so good.  It has some of my favorite ingredients like fennel, rosemary, garlic, sage, Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (the rind even!) and, last but certainly not least, bacon!

It also had ingredients I'd never heard of like Kombu, which is dried Japanese kelp seaweed, and borlotti beans.  I couldn't find either of these in my local grocery store.  The recipe gave cannellini beans as an alternate to the borlotti. I could only find those in cans so I used great northern beans.

As for the Kombu, I thought seaweed is seaweed right?  Apparently I got that wrong.

Here's a link to the recipe:
Tuscan-Style Beans with Bacon and Kombu

This is a two-day recipe.  You start by soaking the seaweed for about 20 minutes.  The next step is to cut slices in the seaweed so it looks like a comb.  Um.  My seaweed turned into mush.  Here is where I figured seaweed wasn't just seaweed.  Oh well, we'll keep going anyway.

Beans are added to the seaweed and more water is added.  Go to bed.  They need to soak over night.

Next you strain the beans and transfer the kombu to a soup pot along with the smoky bacon (Chef Koide likes Neuske's too!).  Well, there wasn't much left of my seaweed but I scraped what I could off of the beans and put it in the pot with the bacon.  Ten cups of water are added to the seaweed and bacon and this is simmered for about 20 minutes or until it becomes cloudy.  Well, with my mess of seaweed my water was cloudy immediately so I just simmered 20 minutes!

What you really want is the bacon infused water so you have to strain the seaweed out.  I didn't have a colander with small enough holes so I had to use my handy Ruhlman towels to strain the bits of seaweed out.

The water smelled amazing!  It was bacon water!

Then the real fun started.  The bacon is browned in a little olive oil and to this onion, celery, fennel fronds, sage, by leaves, rosemary, garlic, red pepper and black pepper are added.  The aroma coming out of the pot was divine.  I could have just eaten this mixture!  Once these have cooked a little, 8 cups of the bacon water, a rind of parmesan and the beans are added to the pot and it is simmered until the beans are tender, about an hour and 15 minutes.

Each time I lifted the lid to stir the beans and make sure they were still covered in water I couldn't believe the aroma.  I'll admit when I was picking bits and pieces of seaweed out of my beans I thought about ditching the whole plan.  I'm so glad I didn't.

To serve just place some beans and broth in a bowl, sprinkle with flaky salt and shredded parmesan cheese.  I took a spoonful.  Then another.  Then I walked downstairs and made my husband try them.  With a look of surprise on his face he said "those are good".  Yes they are.  These beans would be a great side to just about anything or on their own with a good piece of crusty bread. 

Oh, and it makes 10 cups of beans.  That's a lot of beans.  You may want to half or quarter the recipe if you aren't feeding a crowd!

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