All About Dashi

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Dashi is an incredibly simple and delicious stock. It forms one of the culinary cornerstones of Japanese cooking and it’s made with just three ingredients: water, kombu (dried kelp), and bonito (fish) flakes. The Vegan version can replace the bonito flakes with umami rich shiitake mushrooms. The resulting broth has a rich aroma and tastes like the essence of the sea. Dashi can be used to make a warming bowl of miso soup or ramen, in dipping sauces, or to add savoury flavour to any number of Japanese dishes.

All About Dashi

What Is Kombu?

Kombu is a type of kelp that has been dried and cut into sheets. Look closely and you’ll see powdery crystals clinging to the surface of the seaweed. These crystals of glutamic acid dissolve in the water and give the dashi it’s umami.

You only need to use a small amount of kombu in each portion of dashi. You can break or use kitchen scissors to cut it into smaller pieces. Be careful not to boil the kombu or else it can give the dashi a bitter flavour and slightly thick texture. Let the kombu and water warm together in a saucepan, and then remove it just as the water starts to come to a boil.

Where To Find Dashi Ingredients?

An Asian grocer is your best bet for finding both kombu and shiitake mushrooms. Supermarkets are starting to carry more and more Asian ingredients, so it’s worth checking out the “international” aisle.  

Instant Dashi (Hondashi)

Instant dashi powder is to dashi what a bouillon cube is to vegetable broth. While dashi is subtle and subdued, instant dashi is punchy and strong. All that flavour is often what you need to liven up a bland dish! Hondashi is made from ground up bonito flakes, mushroom powder, dried seaweed and (sometimes) added msg. There are vegan and vegetarian versions of this available online where the bonito flakes are omitted. There is no steeping or straining required, one teaspoon easily dissolves into a cup of water. To appreciate the true power of instant dashi, you should go beyond a soup. We like to think of it as another spice, useful any time needed to add savoury depth of flavour to a recipe. 

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