Dashi – the quintessential Japanese ingredient. Not just used for soup, dashi can be found in a variety of sauces, batters, stews, etc. Packed with umami, or savory flavor, this stock is the basis for flavor in Japanese cuisine, so to really understand authentic Japanese taste, you should at least make it from scratch once in your life, and it’s surprisingly easy to do!
Since I’ve already used dashi in a few recipes, you might be wondering how to make it yourself. While dashi is really easy to make, it does take a little time. When I am pressed for time, I just don’t feel like putting in the extra effort. Luckily, there are also instant dashi granules out there, and they look like this:
They kind of remind me of beta fish pellets, and since they are fishy in nature, I guess it makes sense? lol
Instant dashi, while not as good as homemade dashi, is still a lot better tasting than other instant bouillon blocks I’ve used. Japan has probably come the closest to perfecting the instant stock granule, but it is higher in sodium and does taste a bit more processed than dashi from scratch, so depending on what you’re making, you might not want to use it. But for a while I could not find the ingredients for homemade dashi near me, so if that’s the case for you too, instant dashi granules are a very close substitute for taste!
When I first made dashi I felt like something was missing, since I’m used to richer stocks. Turns out I had been using too much instant dashi in the past instead of the proper proportions. If you’re using dashi granules, you only need about 1 teaspoon per 4 cups! Remember that dashi is not meant to be used on it’s own: it’s used as the backdrop for other flavors, so don’t worry if you think it’s not as rich as it should be. After all, when eating miso soup, we want it to taste like miso, not dashi, right?
So, the next few posts I am going to be sharing different dashi recipes for you to try! First off, Kombu dashi, perfect for vegetarians and vegans, and a great subtle flavor for lighter dishes!
Recipe – Kombu Dashi:
– Take your strip of kombu and gently wipe it clean. You’ll notice little white flakes on it: don’t wipe it off, they are called “mannitto” or “umami seibun”, and occur naturally as part of the drying process. They are basically salt deposits, so it helps contribute to the flavor! Place in water for a few minutes to soften.
– Transfer to a jar, then let sit in the fridge overnight! Let it soak for at least ten hours, then it’s ready to use!