Dashi is the basic Japanese soup stock used in many Japanese dishes. Learn how to make Awase Dashi at home with umami-packed ingredients like kombu (dried kelp) and katsuobushi (dried bonito flakes).
When you decide to make Japanese food, you will realize that a lot of recipes require dashi, Japanese soup stock.
With this unfamiliar ingredient, you may think Japanese food is hard to replicate at home. On the contrary, dashi is actually the easiest soup stock anyone can make from scratch as it requires only 1-2 ingredients and 20-minute prep time. This post shows you how you can make Awase Dashi using a combination of ingredients. Once you learn the ins and outs of dashi making, you’ll be ready to tackle Japanese cooking with a breeze.
What is Dashi?
Dashi (だし, 出汁) is Japanese soup stock that builds the bases for many of your favorite Japanese dishes like miso soup, chawanmushi, ramen, and shabu shabu. It is the essence of authentic Japanese flavor, and it tells the dishes apart if other substitutions are being used in place of the soup stock. And what defines dashi is the use of carefully selected ingredients like kombu, bonito flakes, shiitake mushrooms, and anchovies, and each ingredient is uniquely Japanese.
In general, there are five different types of dashi (two are vegan). Scroll down to see 5 different types or check out my Ultimate Dashi Guide. When we say “dashi” in Japan, it usually implies Awase Dashi because it’s the most commonly used stock.
Awase Dashi (合わせだし) is made from a combination of kombu (dried kelp) and katsuobushi (dried bonito flakes), and it’s the seafood-based stock. *Awase (合わせ) means “to combine”, “mixed”, or “together”.
How to Make All-Purpose, Basic Dashi
The First Dashi
The base of Awase Dashi is a vegan Kombu Dashi made from dried kelp. You can cold brew or hot brew kombu to make the dashi. Then you would add dried bonito flakes to the kombu dashi. This makes the stock more enriched. When you make dashi from unused kombu and katsuobushi, it’s called Ichiban Dashi (一番だし). It’s basically the first pure dashi.
The Second Dashi
Niban Dashi (二番だし), or the second dashi is made from previously used kombu and katsuobushi, which you reserved from making Ichiban Dashi. Niban Dashi is a lighter, less intense dashi, yet still provides a great umami flavor despite the previously used ingredients.
Do we really need to make dashi twice?
At a regular household, we make such a small amount of dashi that it’s not very efficient to make both Ichiban Dashi and Niban Dashi. My suggestion is to make very good Ichiban Dashi and utilize the used kombu and katsuobushi to make Homemade Furikake (rice seasoning) and Kombu Tsukudani (simmered kombu) after collecting enough used kombu and katsuobushi. This way, there will be no waste, and you get another side dish to accompany your meal.
So then who makes Niban Dashi? Japanese restaurants make a huge batch of dashi daily. They use Ichiban Dashi for dishes like Clear Soups (Osumashi おすまし) and Chawanmushi, which require the pure and maximum amount of umami from the dashi ingredients. They typically use Niban Dashi for simmered food (Nimono) and miso soup, which doesn’t require much flavor from the soup stock.
I love using Kayanoya Dashi Packet (left) and Shimaya Dashi Powder (right). Both are MSG-free and additive-free. You can purchase them at Japanese grocery stores or on Amazon:
Easy & Delicious Recipes Using Dashi:
The Ultimate Dashi Guide on Just One Cookbook
Dashi plays an important role as a 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, dashi is considered a healthy ingredient in our daily diet.
There are five different types of dashi you can use in Japanese cooking, including vegetarian and vegan dashi (*).
- Kombu Dashi → made from kombu (dried kelp)*
- Katsuo Dashi → made from katsuobushi (dried bonito flakes)
- Iriko Dashi → made from iriko or niboshi (dried anchovies/sardines)
- Shiitake Dashi → made from dried shiitake mushrooms*
- Awase Dashi → made from a combination of all above or two (e.g., kombu + katsuobushi)
If you are new to different types of dashi, check out my Ultimate Dashi Guide.
Awase Dashi (Japanese Soup Stock)
- Gather all the ingredients. Most Japanese recipes would say to gently clean the kombu with a damp cloth. However, these days, kombu is quite clean, so just make sure it doesn't have any mold spots and it's ready to use. Do not wash or wipe off the white powdery substance, as it has lots of umami.
- Make several slits in the kombu to release more flavor.
To Make the Cold Brew Kombu Dashi Ahead of Time (Optional)
- Put the water and kombu in a large bottle and let it steep on the counter for 2-3 hours in the summertime and 4-5 hours in the wintertime. You can also cold brew the kombu dashi overnight in the refrigerator.
To Make the Awase Dashi
- Add the kombu and water to a medium saucepan. If you have cold brew Kombu Dashi (previous step), add the Kombu Dashi and hydrated kombu to the saucepan.
- Turn on the heat to medium low and slowly bring to almost boiling, about 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, clean the dashi by skimming the foam and debris from the surface.
- Just before the dashi starts boiling gently, remove the kombu from the saucepan (discard or repurpose in other recipes—suggestions follow). If you leave the kombu in the saucepan, the dashi will become slimy and bitter.
- Add the katsuobushi and bring it back to a boil again.
- 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 or measuring cup. Reserve the katsuobushi and repurpose it; see the suggested recipes that follow. The Awase Dashi is ready to use.
- If you are not using the dashi right away, store the dashi in a bottle or mason jar and keep it in the refrigerator for 3-5 days or in the freezer for 2 weeks.
What to Do with the Used Kombu and Katsuobushi
Optional: Niban (Second) Dashi
- In a medium saucepan, put 2-4 cups* of water and previously used kombu and katsuobushi from making the first dashi. Bring it to a boil over medium-low heat. *2 cups would make a stronger dashi.
- Remove the kombu just before the liquid comes to a boil, then lower the heat, and cook for 10 minutes, skimming occasionally.
- Add an additional ½ cup (5 grams) of fresh katsuobushi and turn off the heat.
- Let the katsuobushi sink to the bottom and strain the dashi through the fine-mesh sieve.
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in January 2013. The images and content have been updated in April 2019.