How To Make Dashi – A Basic Japanese Soup Stock
You are in love with Japanese cuisine? The answer is of course yes. Any visitor coming to Japan can not fall out of love with those delicious dishes full of freshness, colors and flavors. Many of them have tried to cook Japanese dishes when coming back home, but the outcome cannot come up to the original versions. Well, the secret lays on the soup stock used in the dish. In Japan, dashi is among the most popular types of soup stocks that appears in most water-based dishes. In this post, Question Japan will show how to make dashi from scratch. Now, let’s get started.
Ultimate guide to how to make dashi
Definition and history
What is dashi? This is a simple soup broth made of a combination of ingredients which are rich in umami (the fifth taste after sweet, salty, sour, bitter). As Japanese cuisine features the freshness and natural tastes of the food, the local people don’t use chemical food additives. Instead, they use soup stocks like dashi to enhance the flavors of their dishes. The ingredients are completely from nature such as bonito fish flakes, dried kombu kelp seaweed, dried shiitake mushrooms, and dried whole sardines. Unlike Western soup base made from meat, vegetable and spices and stewed in hours, this Japanese basic stock just needs roughly half an hour to turn into a finished product.
The use of this soup base in cooking can date back to 8th century, when the broth just employed raw or boiled bonito fish. In hundred years later, different parts of the country have experimented to work out which ingredients give the best savory flavor. Among those listed above ingredients, bonito fish flakes, which was discovered in the Edo period (17th Century), is the most common in dashi recipe.
The use of dashi in cooking
As mentioned earlier, Japanese cuisine doesn’t use spice powder, so dashi acts as a flavor enhancer in dishes. The most common use of this soup stock is perhaps in miso soup – one of the daily must-have dishes in Japan. It is advised to use dashi stock, but not vegetable or chicken broth to get the most of the flavor.
Moreover, this is the broth base of almost all Japanese water-based dishes such as: Japanese hotpots (nabemono),stews (e.g:Oden) or noodle soup dishes (e.g: soba,udon, ramen).
Japanese people even use it as a seasoning liquid for dishes like takoyaki, tamagoyaki or even add it to dipping sauces to enhance the savoriness in the dishes.
Dashi is easy to make, but failure can occur if you don’t follow the instruction carefully. Its quality can change the entire taste of Japanese cuisine.
As dashi is made from umami-rich ingredients, so this soup stock is not very diverse. However, you should have insight into different types of dashi to choose the suitable one for each dish. Below is the list of types, categorized by ingredients and times of incarnation.
|Awase type||kombu (dried kelp), katsuobushi (dried bonito flakes)||miso soup,oyakodon, oden, nikujaga,etc|
|Kombu type||kombu (dried kelp)||yudofu, clam soup, shabu shabu,etc|
|Katsuo type||katsuobushi (dried bonito flakes)||clear soup, vegetable ohitashi, noodle soup dishes,etc|
|Iriko type||iriko / niboshi (dried baby sardines)||miso soup, donburi, udon,etc|
|Shiitake type||dried shiitake mushrooms||takikomi gohan, nabeyaki udon, stir-fried dishes, steamed fish,etc|
Depending on incarnation times, dashi is divided into 2 types: ichiban (first) dashi and niban (second) dashi. The first dashi is made from unused ingredients, while the second dashi makes use of the previously used materials in the first cook to make the second broth. Although sharing the same ingredients, these two types of dashi are different in characteristics and purposes. The first dashi has light color, clean flavors and aromas. It is suitable for clear soups, broth in ramen shops or home cooked miso soup. Meanwhile, the second dashi has lower color and aroma intensity. It acts as a flavor building block in stews, glazes, sauces, which do not require high refinement.
Dashi stock recipe
- 0.7 oz (20 g) kombu
- 3 cups (30 g) loosely packed katsuobushi (dried bonito flakes)
- 4 cups (1000 ml) water (or 8 cups)
*Note: Each type varies in ingredients
How to make dashi stock
1.Use damp cloth to remove and dust in the kombu kelp. Bear in mind to wipe it slightly to avoid losing the white powder on the surface of the kelp, as this powder is umami. Make slits on the kombu.
2. Soak kombu in water pot for at least 30 minutes (OPTIONAL).
3. Boil the pot in medium heat. Take kombu out immediately when bubbles start emerging. Then turn off the heat, let dashi cool down for a while.
4. Turn the heat up, add katsuobushi and bring it to a boil. Once boiling, turn the heat to minimum and leave bonito flakes simmer in at least 30 seconds. During this process, skim the scum occasionally.
5. Turn of the heat, let katsuobushi sink to the pot bottom. Now you’ve finished making dashi.
6. Strain dashi through sieve lined with paper towel. Do not squeeze katsuobushi, let it drain naturally; or else dashi will get opaque.
*Note: Follow the same steps to make niban dashi from boiled ingredients of ichiban dashi.
Frequently asked questions besides how to make dashi
Do we really need to make dashi twice?
In regular households, Japanese people often cook dishes that require the pure and maximum amount of umami from the dashi ingredients. Therefore, the first dashi is more favorable. People only make niban dashi when the demands arise. In case of not making niban dashi, remember not to discard those used ingredients.People will freeze them and accumulate enough for the next uses, or they utilize them to make other dishes like Furikake or Kombu Tsukudani.
On the other hand, restaurants always make dashi twice, as they have to serve a variety of dishes every day, which means a call for both dashi types.
How long can you keep your dashi stock?
Well, it depends on your ingredients. Normally, dashi stock lasts at most one week if refrigerated and one month if frozen. However, its quality gradually decreases,as time goes by. If you want to preserve dashi, never put them in room temperature but in the fridge.
Is dashi good for health?
Dashi is a natural flavor enhancer that is very good for health. Among dashi types, any type that contains katsuobushi is the best. The high inosinic acid and amino acid content in the fish flakes activates body cells. Besides, katsuobushi has low-fat content, and it is helpful with fatigue relief and high blood pressure. It is also crucial for how in the production of strong teeth and bones. Last but not least, it even has an anti-aging effect. What a super healthy food additive ever!
Dashi is a healthy and easy-making soup stock. It is nearly a determining factor for Japanese dishes. After reading our article, we hope that you’ve learned how to make dashi and gained basic insight into this soup stock. If you have any questions or suggestions about dashi, feel free to let us know in the comment section.