How to make your own dashi

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WHAT'S SPECIAL

Dashi is a broth or soup stock made by soaking or boiling fish, seafood, meat or vegetables, and so drawing out their nutrients and natural umami flavour.
Like French bouillon or Chinese tan in their respective food cultures, dashi is the secret to many delicious Japanese dishes.

There are many kinds of dashi, but the most well-known type combines kombu (a type of kelp found mainly in Japan) and katsuobushi (dried shavings of skipjack tuna). The synergy of these two ingredients packs an umami punch, which you can read more about here.

You can also make dashi from other kinds of fish, such as niboshi (dried sardines). Or you can create an entirely vegan dashi, based on shiitake mushrooms or a variety of vegetables. The washoku approach is to choose your dashi ingredients according to the type of dish you’re making. Changing the ingredients to harmonize with your meal creates a beautiful flavour balance.

I’m not going to lie though. Ready-made dashi powder can be handy when you’ve run out of homemade dashi and just need to get a meal on the table. Another shortcut is the teabag-style pouch filled with dashi ingredients for a quick infusion. You can even find really high-end versions of the dashi pouch, including specialty flavours and minimally processed ingredients.

However, there is a certain satisfaction that comes from having made your entire meal, dashi included, from scratch. This also gives you more control over what goes into your food, whether you’re concerned about animal proteins or chemical MSG. And in line with the washoku philosophy, homemade dashi lets you harmonize flavours according to the dish, the season, and your palate. If you’re still not convinced, give it a taste test and see which you prefer 😉

Store your dashi in an airtight container. It will keep in the fridge for two days, and in the freezer for up to a month. That way you’ll have some handy for udon soupagedashi tofu, and the many other dashi-based Oishi Washoku recipes 🙂

5 from 1 vote

How to make your own dashi

Servings 2
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 10 mins
Total Time 30 mins

Ingredients

  • 4 pieces dried kombu (approximately 5×5 cm)
  • 20 g katsuobushi
  • 900 mL water

Instructions

  • 「PREP」Wipe the powder* off the kombu with a dry cloth and soak in water for 20 minutes.
    How to make your own dashi - Preparation
  • Put the kombu and water into a pot and heat over medium. Just before it starts boiling, quickly remove** the kombu.
    How to make your own dashi - Step1
  • Allow the kombu water to come to a boil, then add all the katsuobushi at once and reduce the heat to minimum. Gently push down the katsuobushi flakes with cooking chopsticks or a wooden spoon to submerge them. Heat over minimum for 2 minutes. Carefully remove any scum that might build up.
    How to make your own dashi - Step2
  • Line a strainer with paper towel and pour*** the boiled liquid through it into a bowl.
    How to make your own dashi - Step3

Notes

* Dried packaged kombu is usually covered with a white powder which helps bring out its natural umami.
** If brought to a boil, the kombu will become slimy and release some residue into the water, so be sure to remove it before it boils. Discard the kombu, or keep it to make kombu tsukudani or lightly pickled turnip.
*** Do not push down onto or squeeze the katsuobushi flakes when straining, as they will release a slightly sour taste and cloud the broth.
Course: Basic
Cuisine: Japanese
Keyword: Basic, Broth, Dashi

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