Dashi

Many, many years ago, my cousin told me she made udon from homemade dashi. When I asked her about the taste, she said it added more depth to her broth and raved about how delicious it was. Dashi is a simple fish stock frequently used to cook any number of dishes like miso soup, namasu, oden, and katsudon. Dashi is a foundation, just like any other stock.

I grew up with instant dashi, which comes from a packet, in granule form. It never occurred to me to make it from scratch, so I was intrigued by my cousin’s revelation. Could it make that much of a difference? Her comment stuck with me over the years, but I had no reason to make it from scratch…

dashi_kombukatsuo1

Until I realized how easy dashi is to make! With only 3 ingredients—one of which is water—there is no reason not to make it at home. Instant dashi is only a little more convenient than homemade and often contains unwanted ingredients like MSG.

Compared to making other types of stock, this is a cinch. You just have to measure the dry ingredients and into the pot they go. I like to double the recipe and freeze a portion of it in plastic bags or containers, usually in 1 or 2-cup increments.

How does the taste compare? You’ll have to make it, incorporate it into a recipe, and judge for yourself.

dashi_spoon1

Basic Dashi
Makes about 3 ½ cups (850ml)

2 pieces of kombu, about 5 in (12–13 cm) each
0.7 oz (20g) katsuobushi
4.25 cups (1000ml) water

Wipe the kombu with a damp towel. Add it to a large pot with the water and turn the heat to high. If any impurities rise to the surface, quickly remove with a small strainer or paper towel. When small bubbles appear and the water is about to come to the surface, remove the kombu. Let the water come to a boil, then add the katsuobushi. Turn the heat off immediately. Lightly press the tips of your chopsticks into the katsuobushi in a few places, then let sit.

Let the katsuobushi fully sink to the bottom of the pot. Do not stir or agitate, as this will cloud the dashi. Place a strainer in a larger bowl and line it with a paper towel. Carefully pour the dashi through the strainer and into the bowl. Fold the paper towel over into a ball and press lightly to squeeze some of the remaining liquid out.

Adapted from 和食の基本.

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8 Trackbacks

  • By Inari Zushi on September 19, 2010 at 1:09 pm

    [...] 4 dried shiitake 1 small carrot 0.5 oz. kanpyo (dried gourd) 1/2 cup dashi 4 Tbsp. sugar 1 Tbsp. mirin 3 Tbsp. [...]

  • By Challenge #1: Inari Zushi on September 19, 2010 at 2:28 pm

    [...] 4 dried shiitake 1 small carrot 0.5 oz. kanpyo (dried gourd) 1/2 cup dashi 4 Tbsp. sugar 1 Tbsp. mirin 3 Tbsp. [...]

  • By Kinoko Gohan on January 5, 2011 at 10:01 pm

    [...] 3 types of mushrooms used here: shimeji, shiitake, and eringi. First, the mushrooms are cooked in dashi and strained. Then, you take this earthy, delicious broth and use it to cook the rice. It’s a [...]

  • By Stewed Hijiki on January 13, 2011 at 10:22 am

    [...] 1 carrot 6 green beans 1 chikuwa 1 aburaage 3.5 oz. lotus root 1 1/2 Tbsp. canola oil 1 1/4 cups dashi 2 Tbsp. sake 1 Tbsp. mirin 3 Tbsp. sugar 3 Tbsp. [...]

  • [...] traditional Japanese cuisine cookbook was a no brainer: it's a simple miso broth prepared with homemade dashi and the mussels's cooking liquid, which both make the soup it deeply flavorful. Adding the [...]

  • By Clear Mushroom Soup on March 1, 2012 at 12:31 pm

    [...] thinly 1/2 pack shimeji, end trimmed and separated by hand 1 piece aburaage 3 1/4 cups (800ml) dashi salt 1 Tbsp sake 1 Tbsp shoyu 1 1/2 tsp [...]

  • By An Elegant Japanese Dinner Menu | Food Nouveau on May 11, 2012 at 12:08 pm

    [...] Japanese cuisine cookbook was a no brainer: it’s a simple miso broth prepared with homemade dashi and the mussels’s cooking liquid, which both make the soup it deeply flavorful. Adding the [...]

  • By Video: How to Make Dashi on September 21, 2012 at 10:39 am

    [...] All you need is a kombu (dried sea kelp), katsuobushi (bonito flakes), and water. I’ve written about it before, way, way back when I first started this blog. I decided to revisit the recipe and make a video to [...]

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