Learn how to make Iriko Dashi (Niboshi Dashi), a Japanese anchovy stock made by boiling dried anchovies. This stock is fundamental to enhancing your miso soup for authentic flavor!
Making dashi (Japanese soup stock) is an all-important step in Japanese cooking to create authentic flavor. Today I want to share how to make a Japanese anchovy stock called Iriko Dashi (いりこだし) or Niboshi Dashi (煮干しだし), commonly used in miso soup and many other hot pots, noodle soup, and simmered dishes.
What is Iriko Dashi?
Iriko Dashi (いりこだし) or Niboshi Dashi (煮干しだし) is the Japanese soup stock made from Iriko (いりこ) / Niboshi (煮干し), dried baby sardines or anchovies.
Iriko (いりこ) / Niboshi (煮干し) come in sizes between 1.5″ to 3″ long and are often sold in plastic bags at Japanese and Asian grocery stores. They have been boiled in salt water once and then dried.
The smaller baby anchovies have a milder flavor, and the larger ones have more umami. They are high in calcium and are a great source of Omega 3, protein, and minerals.
In Japan, we enjoy these dried baby anchovies as a snack or use them to make soup stock. They are also a common ingredient in Korean, Chinese, and Southeast Asian cuisines where they are used in many different ways!
Iriko vs Niboshi – Are They The Same Thing?
Now I have been using both iriko and niboshi throughout the post when referencing the dried baby anchovies. Not to confuse you, they are actually the same thing.
The Japanese have a knack for naming produce and vegetables, so you can find different names are being used in different regions of Japan.
What Dishes to Make with Iriko Dashi
Iriko dashi is a very common stock choice to make miso soup because dried iriko are more affordable in price than katsuobushi or kombu. Since the Japanese drink miso soup almost every day, it makes sense to use Iriko Dashi. Its briny and pronounced flavor also complements the bold miso, resulting in a more complex tasting soup.
You can also use Iriko Dashi in recipes such as:
- Simmered dishes with soybeans, vegetables, seaweed, mushrooms
- Udon noodle soup
- Strongly-flavored dishes
- Good to mix with kombu dashi
Anchovy stock is also a basic stock for Korean cuisine, and the process of making the stock is very similar to the one for Japanese cuisine. For those who cannot find kombu or katsuobushi, you can try finding these dried baby anchovies/sardines from Korean grocery stores to make this Iriko Dashi.
The Ultimate Dashi Guide
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 six different types of dashi you can use in Japanese cooking, including vegetarian and vegan dashi (*).
- Awase Dashi – a stock made from a combination of dried kelp + bonito flakes
- Kombu Dashi * – a stock made from dried kelp
- Katsuo Dashi – a stock made from dried bonito flakes
- Iriko Dashi – a stock made from dried anchovies/sardines
- Shiitake Dashi * – a stock made from dried shiitake mushrooms
- Vegan Dashi * – a stock made from dried shiitake mushrooms and kombu
If you are new to different types of dashi, check out my Ultimate Dashi Guide.
Iriko Dashi (Anchovy Stock)
For 4 Cups Iriko Dashi
- ½ cup iriko/niboshi (boiled and dried anchovies) (you can find iriko or niboshi at Japanese/Korean/Asian grocery stores)
- 4 cups water
For 2 Cups Iriko Dashi
- ¼ cup iriko/niboshi (boiled and dried anchovies)
- 2 cups water
- Gather all the ingredients. Measure ½ cup iriko/niboshi (boiled and dried anchovies) for the full portion of this recipe or ¼ cup iriko/niboshi (boiled and dried anchovies) for a half portion.
- I highly recommend removing the head and gut from the fish to reduce bitter flavor in iriko dashi. First, remove the head, and then around the belly area (bottom side), take out the gut inside (black color).
- Continue with the rest of the iriko/niboshi. Discard the head and guts.
- Soak the iriko/niboshi in 4 cups water (or 2 cups water for a half portion) for 20–30 minutes, preferably overnight.
- Transfer the water and iriko/niboshi into a small saucepan and slowly bring the water to a boil.
- When boiling, skim and reduce heat to low and cook for 8–10 minutes.
- Remove from the heat and drain into a fine-mesh sieve over a bowl or measuring cup. Any extra dashi needs to be refrigerated and used within 3–5 days or freeze for later use.
- If you don‘t make it right away, you can freeze the leftover iriko/niboshi and defrost to make it later on.
- You can season the leftover iriko with sweet soy sauce flavors just like how we make Tazukuri (Candied Anchovies).
Editor’s Note: The post was originally published in March 2014. New images and content have been added to the post in April 2019.