Everything You Need to Know About Japanese Dashi

Everything You Need to Know About Japanese Dashi
05 February, 2020

Photo: Stockfood

Japanese food

Don’t throw out the kombu and katsuobushi when you are done - you can use it again for a less intense but still flavour- and umami-full dashi, called niban dashi (up next in the list).

Uses: miso soup, oyakodon (chicken and egg rice bowl), oden (fish cakes), ramen broth

dashi

2. Niban dashi (the second dashi)

After the primary dashi comes the second brew dashi, called niban dashi. As the name suggests, this is simply made from the once-boiled kombu and katsuobushi that gets a second life in a milder flavoured dashi

How to make niban dashi: simply add the saved ingredients to cold water and bring to a boil. Remove the kombu just as the water starts boiling, and allow the katsuobushi to cook for a further 4 minutes. Turn off the heat and strain.  

Uses: use this milder dashi where a recipe doesn’t specify an ichiban or awase dashi, but can still benefit from added umami notes. Perfect for stews, marinades, sauces and vegetable dishes where dashi is more of a background component. 

kombu

3. Kombu dashi

A very simple dashi made just with kombu (dried kelp), kombu dashi is a vegetarian and vegan friendly stock with a mild taste. 
Kombu is high in glutamic acids, an amino acid that gives foods their umami taste. (In fact, the word ‘umami’ originated from the flavour of kombu dashi, identified by the Japanese chemist Kikunae Ikeda in 1908.)

Uses: kombu dashi is great in Japanese dishes that contain seafood, such as clam soup; also for shabu shabu (Japanese hot pot)

4. Shiitake dashi

Shiitake dashi is also made with a single ingredient, in this case, shiitake mushrooms. Any good Japanese pantry should have a bag of dried shiitake mushrooms ready to go (they’re also a common ingredient in Chinese and Korean cooking).

shiitake mushroom

Photo Susan Slater - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0

Vegetarian and vegan friendly, shiitake dashi is made by simply rehydrating the dried mushrooms in cold water for a few hours, or overnight. The soaking liquid is used as the stock, and the hydrated mushrooms can be sliced or chopped to use in the dish you wish to create. 

Uses: shiitake dashi can be combined with other stronger dashi stocks. Used for chawanmushi (steamed savoury egg custard), stir-fries, steamed fish and vegetable dishes, udon noodle soup

Some Japanese recipes to get you started

Miso Soup with Tofu, Bean Sprouts and Herbs

Japanese miso soup

Deep-Fried Tofu with Wasabi, Daikon and Herbs

Deep fried tofu recipe

Marinated Japanese Chicken Wings

Japanese chicken wings

Melted cheese dish

6 melted cheese dishes from the mountains

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