Dashi is a key ingredient for many Japanese dishes, and is often considered the heart of Japanese cuisine. Unlike the meat broths/stocks used in many Western dishes and soups, Japanese dashi is light and brings a subtle oceanic, umami flavor to the dish. It acts as the base for dishes like miso soup, or can be used as a dipping sauce and simmered dishes.
Dashi (dah-shee) is traditionally made from kombu (kelp) and katsuobushi (bonito flakes), but some variations include dried shiitake mushrooms or anchovies. You can make the stock using powdered dashi, which is used like bouillon cubes, or individual serving-sized dashi packets, which work like tea bags. But for the best flavor and most authentic experience, it’s easy to make this stock from scratch, as long as you can find the right ingredients. Check your local Asian market, or you can buy online in a pinch.
Recipe originally from Alton Brown, via Food Network
Yield: 2 quarts dashi
Total time: 1 hour
- 2 (4-inch) square pieces kombu
- 2½ quarts water
- ½ ounce bonito flakes or katsuobushi, about 2 cups
- Put the kombu in a 4 quart saucepan, cover with water and soak for 30 minutes.
- Set the saucepan over medium heat until the water reaches 150 to 160 degrees F and small bubbles appear around the sides of the pan, 9 to 10 minutes.
- Remove the kombu from the pan. Increase the heat to high and bring to a boil, 5 to 6 minutes.
- Reduce the heat to low and add the bonito flakes. Simmer gently, stirring frequently, for 10 minutes.
- Strain the liquid through a fine mesh strainer lined with muslin or several layers of cheesecloth. Squeeze any remaining liquid from the bonito flakes. Reserve the bonito flakes to add to other dishes, or simply discard.
- While it is best the day it is made, the stock will keep for a week, or up to a month if frozen in an airtight container.