Dashi is a simple stock, a foundation of Japanese cooking, which typically consists of three ingredients: Kombu (kelp), katsuobushi (dried bonito flakes) and water. The combination of these ingredients creates a stock that amplifies the umami flavour in any dish. It is widely used not only for soups, but a wide range of dishes such as simmered vegetables and even dipping sauces. For this reason, it’s great to make a good-sized batch to have on hand in the fridge to use throughout the week.
- 1kg water (1L)
- 20g kombu
- 20g katsuobushi
- small pot (2L)
- In a small pot, place cold water with kombu and heat on the stove on low.
- Once it reaches it around 60-65°C/140-150°F, hold it for one hour.
- Remove the kombu, increase the temperature to 80°C/176°F.
- Remove from heat, and immediately add dried bonito flakes.
- Skim off any impurities or scum that have risen to the surface.
- Strain the stock through strainer lined with cheesecloth.
- Dashi is ready to be used or can refrigerated for future use.
- To make it even easier, you can use hon dashi which is a commercial dashi (instant stock powder): just add water!
- There are various varieties of kombu that you can use (Ma, Rausu, Rishiri, Jidaka, Tsume) and all have different characteristics. The same goes with the Katusobushi – different varieties have with different fermenting stages and shaving styles.
- Secondary stock: follow the same method but use 25g new kelp along with kelp from primary stock, 1L of water, 20g bonito.
- A Niboshi dashi: uses small fish like anchovies and pilchard
- A kombu dashi: uses only kombu
- A Shojin dashi: uses a combination of kombu and shiitake mushrooms
FAQs, Tips, Troubleshooting:
- For a more subtle flavour, Chef Kunio Tokuoka soaks his kombu for 16 hours in the fridge at a temperature of 5°C/40°F. He then removes the kelp, heats up the stock, and adds bonito.
- For a cleaner flavour, some chefs wipe the surface of the kombu with a moist towel to remove any dirt or impurities – we’re not sure how we feel about this as it will also take away some of the sea salt on the surface of the kelp.
- The optimal way to draw out the kombu’s glutamate (the source of its umami), maintain a temperature of 65°C/150°F for one hour. This step is often omitted, but the resulting flavour won’t be as nice. Note: the glutamic acid in kombu cannot be extracted over 80°C/176°F.
- Results will vary depending on the hardness of the water used.