How To Make Dashi Stock
What Is Dashi?
Dashi is a Japanese stock or broth, and it is a fundamental ingredient in many Japanese dishes. Dashi is made from kombu (dried kelp), bonito flakes (dried and smoked skipjack tuna that is shaved into thin flakes), sardine (iriko or niboshi), or a combination of all or two of them. Dashi stock creates a savory umami flavor from all these ingredients and you don’t need to season the food much if you have good dashi.
Types of Dashi
There are several types of dashi stocks. How do we decide which kind of dashi to use for a particular dish? Well, each household may have preference, but here’s how I generally decide based on flavor and ingredients of the dish.
- The most common seafood based stock with a combination of kombu and bonito flakes.
- I use Awase Dashi for most of dishes that requires “dashi”.
Dishes I use Awase Dashi include:
- The vegetarian stock with kombu.
- I use Kombu Dashi when the flavor of ingredients are subtle. When the main ingredient is fish, I usually use Kombu Dashi because bonito flakes from Awase Dashi may overpower the flavor of the fish I’m cooking.
- It’s probably the easiest dashi to make.
Dishes I use Kombu Dashi include:
3) Iriko Dashi (煮干だし、いりこだし)
- The seafood based stock with dried baby sardines.
- I use Iriko Dashi when I want a nice savory stock to go with other strong distinct flavors, or seasoning like soy sauce. I don’t use Iriko Dashi to cook fish as sardines may overpower the flavor of the fish I’m cooking.
Dishes I use Iriko Dashi include
- Miso Soup
- Noodle soup dishes (Curry Udon, Kitsune Udon, etc)
- Donburi dishes
- Takikomi Gohan
- Simmered dishes (Simmered Kabocha), etc.
How To Make Dashi Stock
1. Making From Scratch
Although the preparation may be slightly different for each family and restaurant, the basic principle is pretty much the same.
Iriko Dashi Recipe: Coming Soon!
2. Dashi Packet
Personally, I use this method for my daily use and it is good enough to make savory dashi stock without losing authenticity or requiring you to spend too much time.
- 3 cups water
- 1 (9g) Awase or Katsuor or Kombu (vegetarian) Dashi packet
- In a medium saucepan, add water and dashi packet (some brand may ask you to add the packet after boiling). Start cooking covered over medium high heat. After boiling, reduce heat to medium low and simmer for 5 minutes.
- Discard the packet and dashi stock is ready to use.
You can keep dashi stock in the fridge for 3-7 days. I don't recommend to freeze it, but I know some people do and you can keep for up to 3 months.
3. Instant Dashi Powder
If all you need is dashi stock just to make one cup of miso soup, you can use instant dashi powder to save time. Nowadays there is MSG-free Dashi Powder available at a Japanese grocery store, so look for MSG-free sign on the package. In Japanese it’s written 無添加 (mu-ten-ka) or 天然素材 (ten-nen-sozai).