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5 Ways to Cook Basic Japanese Dashi

By Umami Recipe
5 Ways to Cook Basic Japanese Dashi

Dashi is a staple in Japanese cooking, but did you know that there are many ways to cook it? In fact, the taste of dashi varies according to which region it is from.

For example, in the Kanto region where Tokyo is, people used to do a lot of manual labor, so the dishes tended to be rich in flavor so that workers can get their daily dose of salt. In the Kansai region (around Osaka and Kyoto), food is simpler and lightly seasoned, which also became the basis Kyoto cuisine.

In this article, we'll talk about four different types of dashi and how to cook them.

Kombu (Kelp) Dashi

Features

Kombu dashi is one of the most common types of Japanese soup stock. The thin and simple taste is packed with umami and the taste changes depending on where the kelp is from. As such, using different types of kelp results in different nuances in taste. Kombu dashi is also said to be suitable for shojin ryori, a type of Buddhist cuisine that focuses on drawing out the taste of ingredients. This works especially well on vegetable dishes.

How to Cook

Prepare 10g of kelp for every 1000ml of water. Start by removing dirt on the surface of the kelp with a tightly wrung cloth. The surface of the kelp has umami ingredients, so be careful not to rub it too hard. Put water and kelp in a pot and heat it up until just before boiling point (about 176°F/80 ℃). Simmer over low heat afterward. After 20 to 30 minutes, take out the kelp and it's done. Remember to use soft water when using mineral water.

Kelp Soup Stock

A dashi soup stock with a refined taste. Made only with kelp, it enhances the taste of the ingredients that go with it. It's ideal for various soups, chawanmushi (Japanese custard egg), and other ...

Awase Dashi

Features

Awase dashi a type of Japanese soup stock that combines bonito and kelp. The combination of inosinic acid in dried bonito and glutamic acid in kelp produces a dramatically stronger taste than when eating these ingredients separately. Awase dashi goes well with a wide range of dishes such as nimono or simmered dishes, miso soup, and noodle broth.

How to Cook

Start by making kombu or kelp dashi. Please refer to the first item on this list to learn more. Cook bonito dashi next. To do this, bring the kombu dashi to a boil and add the bonito flakes. Turn off the heat and wait 1-2 minutes for the dried bonito to sink to the bottom of the pot. Place a strainer over a bowl. Lay a sheet of wet felt type paper towel or cloth over the strainer and sift the bonito flakes by pouring the dashi over the strainer. Since the remaining flakes can contain a bitter flavor, make sure not to wring them out so that the juice won’t be mixed with the sifted liquid. This liquid remaining in the bowl is the first-brewed dashi stock.

You can do away with the cloth or paper towel if you have a fine mesh strainer.

Broth from Kelp and Bonito Flakes

Awase dashi is a basic Japanese soup stock made from kelp and dried bonito flakes. The umami of bonito and kelp are blended to create an elegant soup stock with both aroma and flavor. This mixed broth...

Niboshi (Iriko) Dashi

Features

Niboshi is dashi made from dried sardines. Like bonito flakes, it has inosinic acid, but it is characterized by a stronger acidity and a stronger scent. For this reason, niboshi dashi is often used as soup stock for ramen.
In the southern regions of Shikoku and Kyushu, dried sardines are called "iriko," which is why they also call this type of soup stock, "iriko dashi," instead of niboshi.

How to Cook

Remove the head and intestines. If there are large fish in the pack, cut them in half vertically. and divide the large one into half vertically. Add about 30g of dried sardines to 1L of water and leave it for 30 minutes. Heat the pot and let it boil lightly, and when the lye comes out, carefully scoop it up. Keep boiling for 6 to 7 minutes. Place a cloth over a strainer and put it on top of a bowl. Strain.
If you don't have cloth for filtering, make sure that you use a fine-mesh strainer so that the resulting stock does not contain any impurities.

Anchovy Soup Stock

The soup is made from niboshi which is the term for fish boiled in saltwater before being dried. Anchovies are the most common fish used in niboshi. Story: The umami component of niboshi is called...

Shiitake Mushroom Dashi

Features

If you love shiitake mushrooms, then you'll definitely find soup stock made from them a treat. The main umami component of dried shiitake mushrooms is guanylic acid, which is similar to the inosinic acid in dried bonito. It takes time to rehydrate the dried shiitake mushrooms, but as much as possible, we recommended rehydrating them at a low temperature. Once you've used them for the stock, you can also add them in simmered dishes.

How to Cook

There are two types of dried shiitake mushrooms: donko and koushin. Donko are shiitake mushrooms that have grown thickly are and harvested before their cups open. They are mostly used for eating. Koushin, on the other hand, are shiitake mushrooms that have been exposed to plenty of light and have an open cup. This type is best for making dashi. To cook, soak the mushrooms in a container with water and cover with a lid. The point is to slowly brew the dried shiitake mushroom in cold water for 12 to 24 hours. Afterward, you can remove the mushrooms and run the liquid through a fine-mesh strainer. You now have your shiitake mushroom dashi.

Tip: when using the dashi, be careful not to boil it at a high temperature as it will turn out bitter.

Instant Dashi Pack

Features

Making your first dashi can be daunting. Getting the right ingredients can be challenging, and so is finding enough time to cook it. The good news is there's a simplified version of making it. You can buy a dashi pack online or from local Asian grocery stores. There's a wide variety of them available and many of them are additive-free.

How to Cook

You can easily make soup stock from a dashi pack as well as preserve it for a long time. In general, all you have to do is mix a certain amount of the instant dashi with water and boil it for a few minutes. How much you use and how long you boil it depend on the product, so make sure you read the instructions carefully.

Where to Buy Dashi

The ingredients for dashi are available in local Asian grocery stores as well as online. You will find a Japanese corner in most Asian grocery stores. For best-tasting dashi, try making it from scratch using the methods listed above. For quick and easy cooking, instant dashi is the way to go. The taste of dashi can vary depending on where the ingredients are from. We hope you have fun trying our different kinds.

Umami Recipe Team

Bringing what's new on Japanese food and culture, from traditional to current trends to your home.

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