This Vegan Dashi, or Shiitake Kombu Dashi, is a plant-based Japanese soup stock made with dried shiitake mushrooms and dried kelp. While this umami-rich stock is perfect for vegans and vegetarians, it’s a versatile stock that anyone can enjoy. It’s very easy to make and you can use it in all kinds of Japanese recipes, from miso soup to simmered kabocha squash.
The standard dashi, or Japanese soup stock, includes katsuobushi (dried bonito flakes) or iriko/niboshi (anchovy). Therefore, you may have heard that “dashi is not vegan/vegetarian-friendly.” Well, that’s not entirely true, and we do use plant-based kombu dashi or shiitake dashi for many recipes.
Today, I want to share this umami-rich Vegan Dashi (精進だし) made with both dried shiitake mushrooms and kombu.
Table of Contents
What is Vegan Dashi?
Called Shojin Dashi (精進だし, 精進出汁), this plant-based Japanese soup stock is made with umami-rich kombu (edible dried kelp) and dried shiitake mushrooms.
This recipe is for you if…
- You are a vegan/vegetarian.
- You want to make authentic Japanese food.
- You’re allergic to fish or don’t like the fishy taste.
- You are looking for a plant-based dashi recipe.
You can still use kombu dashi for vegan recipes, but adding dried shiitake mushrooms yield an extra layer of umami and deep flavors.
What Are Kombu and Dried Shiitake Mushrooms?
If you have never used kombu and dried shiitake mushrooms before, these ingredients might look intimidating. But don’t be! They are very simple; you just have to slowly rehydrate them to extract the flavors.
If you have some time now, you can follow the links below and read more about the ingredients, health benefits, storage, and more.
Where to Buy
You can buy kombu and dried shiitake mushrooms in Japanese and Asian grocery stores. Amazon also sells them.
How to Store
I often get asked this question. I store my dried ingredients like kombu, katsuobushi, dried shiitake mushrooms, dried anchovies, wakame seaweed (wakame), and all kinds of flours in these OXO airtight containers (I use 0.6QT / 1.1QT / 2.8 QT / 4.4 QT containers).
The best part about making Japanese soup stock is that the ingredients are always ready in the pantry and you just need 30 minutes to make the stock.
How to Make Vegan Dashi
Ingredients You’ll Need
Overview: Cooking Steps
- Soak the kombu seaweed and dried shiitake mushrooms in water for at least 30 minutes, preferably 6 hours. This is cold brew vegan dashi.
- Cook the cold brew vegan dashi in a pot until almost simmering. Using a fine-mesh skimmer, skim the foam on the cold brew dashi.
- Strain the vegan dashi, and it’s ready to use.
💡 Cooking Tip: Save the spent kombu and shiitake mushrooms in an airtight container and store it in the refrigerator for a week or in the freezer for up to a month. You can repurpose the leftover kombu to make Simmered Kombu and Homemade Furikake (Rice Seasoning) and use the hydrated shiitake mushrooms just like how you would use fresh shiitake mushrooms.
Recipes You Can Use Vegan Dashi
- Simmered Kabocha Squash
- Vegan Miso Soup
- Simmered Taro
- Steamed Vegetables with Miso Sesame Sauce
- Simmered Koyadofu
- Udon Noodle Soup with Toasted Mochi
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.
Vegan Dashi (Shiitake Kombu Dashi)
Before You Start…
- Please note that this dashi requires a minimum steeping time of 30 minutes. Ideally, we let the dashi steep for 2-3 hours in the summertime and 4-5 hours in the wintertime.
- Gather all the ingredients. Most Japanese recipes recommend gently cleaning the kombu with a damp cloth. However, kombu is pretty clean these days. Just make sure to dust off and remove mold spots, if any. Do not wash or wipe off the white powdery substance as it has lots of umami. For the dried shiitake mushrooms, check if there is any dust or dirt trapped in its gills under the caps. If there is, use a pastry brush to clean it off. Do not wash it under water.
To Cold Brew the Vegan Dashi (Mizudashi)
- Put the kombu and dried shiitake mushrooms in a large bottle. Then, add the measured water.
- Put the cap on and let it steep on the counter for at least 30 minutes to extract the kombu’s flavor naturally. If possible, let it steep for 2-3 hours in the summertime and 4-5 hours in the wintertime. You can also cold brew it overnight in the refrigerator. After steeping, it's now ready to use as cold brew Vegan Dashi. You can either remove the kombu and shiitake from the bottle now, or go to the next step to extract even more flavor. See my suggestions at the end of the recipe for how to repurpose the spent kombu and shiitake.
To Extract More Flavor from the Cold Brew Vegan Dashi
- Transfer the cold brew Vegan Dashi, along with the kombu and shiitake, to a medium pot. Turn on the heat to medium low and slowly bring it to a bare simmer, about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, clean the dashi by skimming the foam from the surface with a fine-mesh skimmer.
- Just before the dashi starts boiling, remove the kombu and shiitake from the pot. Then, turn off the heat. Tip: If you leave the kombu in the pot, the dashi will become slimy and bitter.
- Strain the dashi through a fine-mesh sieve to catch any debris. Now, the Vegan Dashi (Shiitake Kombu Dashi) is ready to use.
- If you are not using the Vegan Dashi right away, keep it in a bottle or airtight container and store it in the refrigerator for 4-5 days or in the freezer for 2 weeks. I recommend using it sooner for the best flavor.
To Use the Spent Kombu and Shiitake
- Save the spent kombu in an airtight container and store it in the refrigerator for up to a week or in the freezer for up to a month.
- With the spent kombu, you can make Simmered Kombu (Kombu Tsukudani).
- You can also use it in Homemade Furikake (Rice Seasoning).
- For the spent shiitake mushrooms, cut off the tough stems with a knife and discard. You can use these rehydrated mushrooms as if you are using fresh shiitake mushrooms.