Japanese Cooking Basics: Learn how to make dashi (Japanese stock) at home with kombu and bonito flakes.
Today’s recipe is back to the basics. When you decide to make Japanese food, you will realize that a lot of recipes require dashi. With this unfamiliar ingredient, you may think Japanese food is hard to replicate at home. However, it’s really easy to make dashi from scratch. My recipe and video tutorial in this post will show you how to make this essential stock, and I promise, you will be well equipped to make many delicious Japanese dishes after this.
Watch How to Make Dashi だしの作り方
Quick and savory homemade dashi recipe with kombu (seaweed) and bonito flakes.
What is Dashi
Dashi is Japanese stock, and it is a fundamental ingredient in many Japanese dishes. The stock is often made from kombu (kelp), bonito flakes (dried and smoked skipjack tuna that is shaved into thin flakes), sardine (iriko or niboshi), or a combination of all or two of them. Dashi plays the ultimate role as flavor enhancer in Japanese cooking, so you don’t need to season the food with too much salt, fat and sugar. Rich in minerals and other vitamins, it is considered a healthy ingredient in our daily diet.
The dashi that I’m sharing today is the most common seafood-based stock called Awase Dashi: a combination of kombu and bonito flakes (katsuobushi). The base is Kombu Dashi, which is vegetarian/vegan, and by adding smoked bonito flakes, the stock gets more enriched.
If you don’t have time, you can make dashi with instant dashi powder or dashi packet, and you can read the instruction here.
Although the preparation may be slightly different for each family and restaurant, the basic principle is pretty much the same.
How does Dashi Taste Like
With a distinctive sweet and savory note, dashi almost reminds you a taste of ocean. The deep umami flavor is what set dashi apart from other stocks. It is rich yet delicate. Thanks to the naturally occurring of glutamates in the ingredients used to make dashi, the stock will immediately enhance and intensify the flavor of foods with which it is cooked with.
Dashi and its many uses
The most common use for dashi is in a bowl of delicious miso soup, the soup for the soul for the Japanese. If you wish to make an authentic Japanese miso soup, I encourage you to use dashi instead of substituting it with other broths. You will notice the difference right away! Dashi is also being used as a base in noodle dishes like ramen and many other Japanese hot pots, stews and soups. You can also use it as a cooking liquid or add it to sauces to bring out savory depth of the dishes. Since it is a clear broth with subtle aroma, dashi is really versatile and you can literally use it in any dishes that call for a touch of liquid.
Here are some delicious recipes to get you started:
I hope you enjoy making dashi at home!
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Gather all the ingredients.
- Gently clean the kombu (just look out for dusty particles) with a damp cloth without removing the white powdery "umami" substances. Do not wash the kombu!
- Make a couple of slits on the kombu.
- Put the kombu and water in a saucepan for at least 30 minutes. If you have time, soak for 3 hours or up to half day. kombu’s flavor comes out naturally from soaking in water. If you don’t have time at all, skip this process.
- Slowly bring to a boil over medium low heat, skimming the surface occasionally.
- Just before boiling (you will see bubbles around the edges of the pan), remove the kombu and keep it for "Niban Dashi" (see Note). If you leave the kombu inside, the dashi will become slimy and bitter.
- Turn off the heat to let the dashi cool down a bit.
- Add the katsuobushi and bring it to a boil again, skimming occasionally.
- Once the dashi is boiling, reduce the heat, simmer for just 30 seconds, and turn off the heat.
- Let the katsuobushi sink to the bottom, about 10 minutes.
- Strain the dashi through a fine-mesh sieve over a bowl. Keep katsuobushi for "Niban Dashi" (see Note).
- If you are not using the dashi right away, save it in a bottle and keep in the refrigerator for 3-5 days or in the freezer for 2 weeks.
- Save the drained katsuobushi and kombu for Niban Dashi (see Notes) or make homemade furikake rice seasoning. If you don't use it right away, you can freeze them for 2-3 weeks.
Niban Dashi: It means second dashi and it is lighter dashi using leftover kombu and bonito flakes from Ichiban Dashi you just made.
- In a pot, put 4 cups of water and leftover kombu and bonito flakes used in Ichiban Dashi and bring it to a boil over high heat.
- Lower the heat and cook for 10 minutes while skimming.
- Add additional .2 oz (5 grams) of bonito flakes and turn off the heat.
- Let the bonito flakes sink to the bottom and strain the dashi through the sieve.
Recipe by Namiko Chen of Just One Cookbook. All images and content on this site are copyright protected. Please do not use my images without my permission. If you’d like to share this recipe on your site, please re-write the recipe and link to this post as the original source. Thank you.