A Guide to Dashi
Importance of Dashi
An essential backbone of almost any Japanese cuisine would be dashi. Dashi is a term used for stocks used in Japanese cuisine and this simple stock is essential in many Japanese dishes that you know and love. It can be made from steeping various ingredients in water. This versatile stock adds a subtle yet rich umami flavour to a wide variety of dishes. The best part of preparing your own dashi is that it takes less than 15 minutes. Having good stock helps provide your dishes with additional umami flavour, allowing your dishes to really stand out.
Japanese dashi stock is different from soup stocks from other cuisines as it is usually made with fewer ingredients, containing just one or two ingredients. It is usually made from ingredients like katsuobushi (dried bonito flakes), kombu (dried kelp), niboshi (dried sardines), shiitake (dried shiitake mushroom). You can make dashi using different combinations of the mentioned ingredients and it is entirely up to you! Read on to find out the different dishes you can
Katsuo Dashi (Bonito)
Bonito flakes, or Katsuobushi in Japanese, is thinly-shaved dried bonito fillet and there are many different varieties of katsuobushi depending on which part of the dried bonito fish it came from and how it is made. Bonito flakes add another layer of complexity to soup and dishes.
- In a pot, bring water to a boil.
- Just before the water starts boiling, just when bubbles start to rise, add the katsuobushi and bring it to a boil again.
- Simmer for about 30 seconds before turning off the heat.
- Let the katsuobushi sit in water for about 5 minutes before straining it over a fine-mesh sieve.
Kombu is a type of kelp and you will usually see white specks or crystals on the surface of the kelp. These are crystals of glutamic acid that will help to contribute much to the umami flavour of the dashi. So remember not to rinse the kombu first. Kombu dashi adds a subtle flavour to many Japanese dishes that you know and love. It is also great in vegan and vegetarian dishes whereby the katsuo dashi would not be an option.
- Soak the kombu in water till soft. Do not rinse it. The white specks on its surface are not dirt but deposits that will help contribute to the umami flavour of the broth.
- Add soaked kombu and water into a pot and turn on the heat.
- Heat it until you see bubbles rising to the surface.
- Remove kombu from stock and it is ready to be used.
Niboshi (Dried anchovies/sardines)
Made from dried little anchovies or sardines, such dashi would give you a bolder fish flavour and aroma as compared to the katsou dashi. There are different types of niboshi, made with different types of fish, each giving you a different flavour.
- The heads and entrails of the fish need to be removed.
- Prepare a saucepan or pot with water. Place cleaned niboshi in water.
- Steep for about 20-30 minutes.
- Place the pot over medium heat and bring to a boil.
- Once the water boils, lower the heat and let it simmer for few minutes.
- Strain niboshi stock through a cloth over a sieve.
No time to prepare your dashi? Get a quick and simple way to get umami-filled soup without a hassle!
Futaba Katsuo Tsuyu (Bonito Based Soup Stock)
An authentic all-purpose soup made by blending plenty of bonito flakes with honjyozo soya sauce. Concentrated seasoning with authentically brewed soy sauce and plenty of real bonito dashi. Just dilute the concentrated stock with water to create a delicious umami flavour in a variety of dishes. Excellent for not just soba dipping but also for rice, soup, or many simmered dishes. Available here.
Yamasa Konbu Tsuyu Shiro Dashi (Kelp Based White Dashi)
The Yamasa Konbu Tsuyu Shiro Dash is an elegant, light-coloured concentrated soup with a good balance of umami flavours from bonito flakes, mackerel flakes, and kelp stock. Its mild and clear taste can be used for a wide variety of dishes, such as udon noodles, boiled soup, and simmered vegetables. Available here.
Marumoto Dashi no Moto (Powdered Bonito for Soup Stock)
Powder type dashi stock with a rich scent of bonito flakes. Since the bonito extract is coated when the granules are manufactured, it has a wide range of aroma and taste. Granule type packets melt easily when cooking. Great for soup or braised dishes. Available here.