Today’s recipe is back to the basics. When you decide to make Japanese food, you will realize that a lot of recipes require dashi. With this unfamiliar ingredient, you may think it’s not easy to cook Japanese food. However, it’s very simple, quick and easy to make dashi from scratch, and you will be well equipped to make more delicious Japanese food after this post (I hope!).
Dashi is Japanese stock, and it is a fundamental ingredient in many Japanese dishes. Dashi is made from kombu (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 provides great umami from all these ingredients and you don’t need to season the food much if you have good dashi.
The dashi that I’m sharing today is the most common seafood based stock called Awase Dashi: a combination of kombu and bonito flakes. Although the preparation may be slightly different for each family and restaurant, the basic principle is pretty much the same.
I have an existing HOW TO Page where I share many tips and techniques that I use for cooking, including How To Make Dashi. Please note that today’s recipe is an updated version of the page as I improved the recipe.
Next week I will be sharing Vegetarian Dashi recipe. I hope today’s post will help you become more familiar with Japanese culinary adventure.
- 0.7 oz (20 g) dashi kombu
- 2 cups (30 g) loosely packed bonito flakes (Hana Katsuo or Katsuobushi)
- 4 cups (1000 ml) water (or 8 cups - see Note)
- A sieve
- Paper towel
- Gently clean the dashi kombu with a damp cloth but leave the white powdery substances which contribute to the umami flavor in dashi. Do not wash the kombu!
- Make a couple of slits on the kombu.
- In a medium pot, put the kombu and water. If you have time, soak for 3 hours or up to half day. Kombu’s flavor comes out naturally from soaking in water. If you don’t have time, skip this process.
- Heat up the pot slowly on medium low heat. It will take 20-25 minutes to a boil. Meanwhile, clean the dashi by skimming the surface.
- Just before the dashi starts boiling (you will see bubbles on the bottom of the pan), remove the kombu and keep it for "Niban Dashi" (see Note). If you leave the kombu inside, the dashi will become slimy and bitter.
- Either turn off the heat or add a little bit of water to let the dashi cool down a bit.
- Add bonito flakes in the dashi and bring it to a boil again. Continue skimming.
- Once the dashi is boiling, reduce the heat and simmer for 30 seconds (not minutes!). Continue skimming and then turn off the heat.
- Let the bonito flakes sink to the bottom, about 10 minutes.
- Line the sieve with paper towel (cheese cloth/linen cloth) and set over a large bowl. Strain the dashi through the sieve.
- Gently twist and squeeze the paper towel to release the extra dashi into the bowl. Keep bonito flakes for "Niban Dashi" (see Note).
- If you are not using the dashi right away, save it in a bottle and keep in the refrigerator for 3-7 days or in the freezer for 3 weeks.
I use this recipe whenever I need good quality dashi to get intense flavor.
For my daily use, I replace 4 cups of water with 8 cups. I use dashi for some dishes and the leftover goes to miso soup. I usually finish the dashi in 2-3 days.
"Niban Dashi": It means second dashi and it is light dashi using leftover kombu and bonito flakes from "Ichiban Dashi" you just made.
1. In a pot, put 4 cups of water and leftover kombu and bonito flakes used in Ichiban Dashi and bring it to a boil over high heat.
2. Lower the heat and cook for 10 minutes while skimming.
3. Add additional .18 oz (5 grams) of bonito flakes and turn off the heat.
4. Let the bonito flakes sink to the bottom and strain the dashi through the sieve.