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Dashi

Dashi is a class of soup and cooking stock used in Japanese cuisines. Dashi forms the base for miso soup, clear broth, noodle broth, and many kinds of simmering liquid.

Methods of Making Dashi

The most common form of dashi is a simple broth or fish stock made by heating water containing kombu (edible kelp) and kezurikatsuo (shavings of katsuobushi – preserved, fermented bonito) to near-boiling, then straining the resultant liquid. The element of umami, considered one of the five basic tastes in Japan, is introduced into dashi from the use of katsuobushi. Katsuobushi is especially high in sodium inosinate, which is identified as one source of umami.

Homemade dashi, made from dried kombu and katsuobushi, is less popular today, even in Japan. Granulated or liquid instant dashi replaced the homemade product in the second half of the 20th century. The premade product has a stronger concentration of glutamate and, thus, a stronger flavour than the homemade product.

Dashi
Dashi becomes the base of many Japanese dishes, such as soup, dipping sauce, and nimono (simmered dishes). Since dashi is often used in Japanese cooking, it's useful to know how to make it. There are different kinds of dashi. It can be made from kombu (dried kelp), katsuo-bushi (dried bonito flakes), niboshi (dried small sardines), hoshi-shiitake (dried shiitake mushrooms), and more. Kombu dashi and dried shiitake mushroom dashi are known as good vegetarian stocks. It might take extra effort to make dashi, but good dashi makes your Japanese dishes taste much better.

  • Kombu Dashi - for clear soup, nabe (hot pot dishes), and more.
  • Katsuo Dashi - for nimono (simmered dishes), clear soup, noodle soup, and more
  • Kombu and Katsuobushi Dashi - for clear soup, nimono, noodle soup, and more.
  • Niboshi Dashi - for miso soup, nimono, and more.
Ingredients
Kombu Dashi
  • 4 cups of water
  • 20 cm kombu (dried kelp), cut in half
Katsuo Dashi
  • 3¼ cups water
  • 20g katsuobushi (dried bonito flakes)
Kombu and Katsuobushi Dashi
  • 20 cm kombu (dried kelp), cut in half
  • 20 g katsuobushi (dried bonito flakes)
  • 4½ cups water
Niboshi Dashi
  • 20 g niboshi (dried sardines)
  • 4½ cups water
Instructions
Kombu Dashi Preparation
  1. Wipe the kombu with clean cloth. (Kombu shouldn't be washed.)
  2. Put water in a deep pot and soak the kombu for about 30 minutes.
  3. Put on low heat. Just before the water comes to a boil, remove the kombu. (It's good to use the kombu for cooking other dishes.) Remove from the heat.
Katsuo Dashi Preparation
  1. Put water in a deep pot and heat on medium heat. Just before the water boils, add katsuobushi flakes.
  2. When the water boils, skim off any foam that rise to the surface.
  3. Remove from the heat. Let it set until katsuobushi flakes sink.
  4. Place a paper towel in a colander and strain the stock through it.
Kombu and Katsuobushi Dashi Preparation
  1. Wipe the kombu with clean cloth. Put water in a deep pot and soak kombu in the water for about 10 minutes.
  2. Put the pot on low heat and remove the kombu just before the water boils.
  3. Add katsuobushi. Remove any foam that rise to the surface, and remove from the heat. Let it set until bonito flakes sink.
  4. Place a paper towel in a colander and strain the stock through it. This stock is called ichiban-dashi (first stock).
  5. Variation to make niban-dashi (second dashi) : Put back the katsuobushi and kombu used to make the first dashi in the deep pot. Add about 2½ cups of water and heat on low heat. When it starts to boil, add 10 g of extra katsuobushi flakes. Let it simmer for a few minutes, removing any foam that rise to the surface. Stop the heat. Place a paper towel in a colander and strain the stock through it. Nibandashi is often used to make nimono (simmered dishes).
Niboshi Dashi Preparation
  1. Remove the heads of niboshi and tear niboshi in halves and gut them.
  2. Put water in a deep pot and soak niboshi for one hour or more.
  3. Bring it to a boil and simmer on low heat for about 5 minutes, skimming off any foam rise to the surface.
  4. Remove from the heat. Place a paper towel in a colander and strain the stock through it.
Notes
The amount of ingredients used to make dashi and the use of dashi can vary, depending on your preference.
Japanese dashi is best used on the day it's made. If you have some leftover dashi, keep it in a covered container. It can be kept in the refrigerator for a couple of days.
Instant dashi powder is also available at stores. It's quick to use dashi powder to make dashi stock. Usually, about 1 teaspoon of dashi powder is used for 2½ - 3 cups of water. To prepare, follow the package instructions.

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