How To Make Dashi (The Ultimate Guide)

  • This is the ultimate guide to Dashi, Japanese soup stock. You’ll learn about the different types of dashi, the ingredients, and how each stock is used in Japanese cooking.

    5 different types of dashi in a jar and their ingredients.

    What is Dashi?

    Dashi (だし, 出汁) or Dashijiru (出し汁) is Japanese soup stock that is the backbone of many Japanese dishes. It is all-important and indispensable, and you can trace its existence in Japanese daily cooking back to the Edo period (17th Century).

    Unlike soup stocks from other cuisines, which are typically made by boiling an assortment of meat, vegetables, herbs, and spices for several hours, dashi usually contains only one or two ingredients, and preparation takes just 20 minutes. Yet, dashi gives Japanese food its unique, rich, umami-packed savory flavor.

    The Japanese soup stock is often made from:

    • Kombu (dried kelp)*
    • Katsuobushi (dried bonito flakes)
    • Iriko or niboshi (dried anchovies/sardines)
    • Shiitake (dried shiitake mushrooms)*
    • OR a combination of all above or two (such as kombu + katsuobushi)

    *vegetarian and vegan

    5 different types of dashi ingredients.
    From top left in clockwise: dried kelp, dried shiitake mushrooms, anchovies, and dried bonito flakes.

    How Does Dashi Taste Like?

    All the dried ingredients that are used to make Japanese soup stock are rich in naturally occurring glutamates and provide intense flavor to the stock. Dashi creates a savory umami flavor from all these ingredients and you don’t need to season the food as much once you have a good stock.

    With a distinctive sweet and savory note, the deep umami flavor is what set dashi apart from other stocks.

    How Do You Use Dashi in Cooking?

    The most common use for Japanese soup stock is in a bowl of delicious miso soup, the soup for the soul for the Japanese. If you wish to make a bowl of authentic Japanese miso soup, I strongly encourage you to use dashi instead of substituting it with other broths such as vegetable or chicken broth. You will notice the difference right away!

    Dashi is also being used as a broth base in Japanese hot pots (e.g., Shabu Shabu), stews (e.g., Oden), simmered dishes (e.g., Nikujaga), and noodle soup dishes (e.g., udon, soba, and ramen).

    You can also use it as a seasoning liquid (e.g, TamagoyakiTakikomi Gohan, and Takoyaki) or add it to sauces to bring out the savory depth of the dishes. Since it is a clear umami-rich broth with a subtle aroma, dashi is really versatile and you can literally use it in any dishes that call for a touch of liquid. 

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    Dashi Guide Index

    By clicking the link below, you can jump to each topic covered in this post.

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    Different Types of Dashi

    A lot of people think dashi is made of fish, so vegetarians and vegans can’t use it. No, that’s not true.

    There are 5 different types of dashi and I’ll introduce them here. How do we decide which stock to use for a particular dish? Well, there is no rule and it’s up to you. Below, I added some examples of dishes that go well with each type of dashi.

    Awase Dashi in a measuring cup, and kombu and katsuobushi on a bamboo basket.

    1. (Awase) Dashi 合わせだし

    • A combination of kombu (dried kelp)and katsuobushi (dried bonito flakes).
    • The most common, all-purpose seafood based stock (and this is my go-to stock).
    • Awase means “combination” or “mixed” in Japanese.

    This stock is good for:

    RECIPE: To make it from scratch, check out How To Make (Awase) Dashi.


    Kombu Dashi | Easy Japanese Recipes at JustOneCookbook.com

    2. Kombu Dashi 昆布だし

    • The vegetarian/vegan stock made from kombu (dried kelp).
    • Gentle flavor.
    • It’s probably the easiest stock to make.

    This stock is good for:

    RECIPE: To make it from scratch, check out How To Make Kombu Dashi.


    Katsuo Dashi (Bonito Stock) in a jar.

    3. Katsuo Dashi かつおだし

    • The seafood based stock made from katsuobushi (dried and fermented skipjack tuna/bonito that is shaved into thin flakes).
    • Aromatic, flavorful, and elegant.

    This stock is good for:

    RECIPE: To make it from scratch, check out How To Make Katsuo Dashi.


    Iriko Dashi - Japanese Baby Anchovy Soup Stock in the bottle.

    4. Iriko Dashi (Niboshi Dashi) いりこだし・煮干しだし

    • The seafood based stock made from iriko / niboshi (dried baby anchovies/sardines).
    • Strong fishy aroma and taste.
    • Most affordable compared to kombu and katsuobushi.

    This stock is good for:

      • Miso Soup (most commonly used)
      • Noodle soup dishes (Curry UdonKitsune Udon, etc) and Mentsuyu
      • Donburi (rice bowl) dishes
      • Simmered dishes (Simmered Kabocha)
      • Use when you want a nice savory stock to go with other strong distinct flavors or seasoning like soy sauce, but don’t use it to cook fish because the overall result could come out too strong.

    RECIPE: To make it from scratch, check out How To Make Iriko Dashi.


    Dried shiitake mushrooms and shiitake dashi.

    5. Shiitake Dashi 干し椎茸の戻し汁・椎茸だし

    • The vegetarian/vegan stock made from rehydrating dried shiitake mushrooms.
    • Rehydrated shiitake is used for cooking.
    • The soaking liquid (Shiitake Dashi) is rarely used as its own and usually combined with Kombu Dashi or Katsuo Dashi to enhance the flavor.

    This stock is good for:

    RECIPE: To make it from scratch, check out How To Make Shiitake Dashi.

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    3 Ways to Make Dashi

    Depending on your time and need, you can decide how to make Japanese soup stock from the following three ways. I’ll start from the most time-consuming method (but only 20 minutes!) to the instant method.

    5 different types of dashi in a jar and their ingredients.

    Method 1: Make Dashi from Scratch

    Once you decide what ingredient(s) you want to use for your dashi, please click the link to get the recipe.

    1. Kombu (dried kelp) + Katsuobushi (dried bonito flakes) → Awase Dashi
    2. Kombu (dried kelp) → Kombu Dashi
    3. Katsuobushi (dried bonito flakes) → Katsuo Dashi
    4. Iriko or niboshi (dried anchovies/sardines) → Iriko Dashi
    5. Dried shiitake mushrooms → Shiitake Dashi

    If you are not sure, go with Awase Dashi, or Kombu Dashi for vegetarians/vegans.

    Don’t forget to


    Dashi made from Dashi Packet.

    Method 2: Dashi Packet (Shortcut)

    This is the most convenient method which produces pretty flavorful soup stock. One drawback is that these dashi packets might be hard to find in Asian grocery stores. Your local Japanese grocery stores should carry one or several brands.

    * Dashi packet above is Japan’s most popular Kayanoya Dashi Packet (MSG-free & additive-free!) (a bit pricy; Amazon). You may also find Yamaki Dashi Packet in Japanese grocery stores (or Amazon).

    RECIPE: To make dashi using dashi packet, check out Dashi Packet & Recipe.


    Dashi made from Dashi Powder.

    Method 3: Dashi Powder (Shortcut)

    If you want to make a bowl of miso soup, instant dashi powder can be very convenient and save a lot of your time. The most commonly known products are Hondashi (ほんだし) and Dashinomoto (だしの素), which you can find in Asian or even American grocery stores.

    However, I strongly recommend MSG-free & additive-free Dashi Powder that’s available at Japanese grocery stores or Amazon.

    RECIPE: To make dashi using dashi powder, check out Dashi Powder & Recipe.

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    Watch How to Make Dashi (The Ultimate Dashi Guide)

    This is the ultimate guide to Dashi, Japanese soup stock. You’ll learn about the different types of dashi, the ingredients, and how each stock is used in Japanese cooking.

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    I hope this ultimate dashi guide was helpful. Did you figure out which Japanese soup stock you want to use for your next meal?

    Sign up for the free Just One Cookbook newsletter delivered to your inbox! And stay in touch with me on FacebookPinterestYouTube, and Instagram for all the latest updates.

    Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on January 4, 2011. The images, video, and the content have been updated, and the comment form is open in May 2019.

     

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