Dashi

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.

Ingredients:

  • 1kg water (1L)
  • 20g kombu
  • 20g katsuobushi

Tools Required:

  • small pot (2L)
  • Thermometer
  • Strainer

Instructions:

  1. In a small pot, place cold water with kombu and heat on the stove on low.
  2. Once it reaches it around 60-65°C/140-150°F, hold it for one hour.
  3. Remove the kombu, increase the temperature to 80°C/176°F.
  4. Remove from heat, and immediately add dried bonito flakes.
  5. Skim off any impurities or scum that have risen to the surface.
  6. Strain the stock through strainer lined with cheesecloth.
  7. Dashi is ready to be used or can refrigerated for future use.

Variations:

  • 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.

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