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Everything you need to know about Dashi..


Dashi is the word the Japanese use for stock. (In fact, the word "dashi" is a shortform of the word "ni-dashi" which means to "draw out by boiling" and in this case refers to drawing out flavours into a liquid by cooking.) Japanese dashi stock stands apart from other forms of stock. Why? Because it uses seafoods - dried kelp (konbu) and dried and flaked bonito (katsuobushi) as it's basic ingredients. Not only that but dashi stock is the only stock to be made using only ingredients that have been dried or smoked.


Dashi is a cornerstone of Japanese cooking and a mainstay ingredient of the famous "fifth taste", umami.) Dashi has been around since the Edo Period, so about 500 years. Whoever invented it back then must have got it right because the recipe for dashi stock has changed little since those times. Dashi stock is used in Japanese soups, stews, bowls of noodles and many other things. What you might not know is that there are two forms of dashi - ichiban dashi and niban dashi, meaning literally, first dashi and second dashi, where first dashi is the premium product and second dashi considered of a slightly lower quality. (Think of first pressed and second pressed olives used to make olive oil or grapes used for wine - it's the same kind of idea.) What this means is that when you make your own dashi from scratch, you can actually make two lots, a first dashi and a second dashi from the same ingredients.


You might be thinking, "So how do I use these two dashi stocks?" If so, look at some of the ideas below. You can click on each recipe to go straight to that page.




Of course, you don't have to make dashi from scratch. If you don't have the time or inclination, you can purchase ready made dashi in the form of granules or in the form of stock bags. (You may have come across jars of dashi paste which you just mix with hot water - I don't recommend these as I've never found one which was any good.) If you are looking for granules or bags, then Ajinomoto and Shimaya are the brands to look for - you'll get a good product that is great for everyday use.


But, if you want to make a fresh, absolutely top quality dashi, making it yourself is definitely the way to go though. You'll only need two ingredients - some konbu (dried kelp) and some katsuobushi (dried flaked bonito). Konbu actually comes in two types, one meant to be used directly in cooking and one that is specifically for making dashi. So, when you buy your konbu, look out for a product called "dashi konbu" rather than just "konbu". You can find both konbu and katusobushi in Japanese and Asian stores and there are plenty of online stores selling these products as well. One other thing that I should mention is that dashi granules and dashi bags already contain salt. If you like saltier flavours, you should add a little when you make your own dashi once it is made.


So, once you have got your dashi konbu and your katsubushi in hand, what do you need to do to produce a crystal clear, light amber coloured, fragrant ichiban dashi? And how to recycle the ingredients for your second dashi? Just scroll down the page to find the recipes. If you want to take a look at the Youtube tutorial just click Perfect Japanese Dashi Stock.


Happy cooking! Kurumi XXXX.

 

ingredients;


(makes approx 0.9 litre / 1.8 pints of first and second dashi stock)


10g / 0.4 oz konbu

1 litre / 2 pints water

15g / 0.6 oz katsuobushi


you'll also need a sieve and a muslin cloth or a square of kitchen paper towel

 

how to:


(first dashi)


wipe the konbu with a piece of damp cloth damp or kitchen paper to clean off any residue


put the konbu and 1 litre / 2 pints of water into a saucepan and leave to soak for 30 minutes


when the 30 minutes is up, bring the water to the boil over a medium heat.  (this will take about 10 minutes)


just before the water comes to the boil, remove the konbu and set it aside


next, add the dried bonito flakes to the saucepan. simmer for about 2 minutes, then turn off the heat.  now, wait for a couple of minutes for the flakes to sink to the bottom of the pan


strain the dried bonito flakes through the sieve with the muslin cloth or the sheet of kitchen paper. when most of the liquid has drained through, gently take out the muslin or paper towel and gently squeeze the remaining stock out using your fingers or a pair of chopsticks


(second dashi)


to make your second second dashi, you now recycle the konbu and bonito flakes. put them both back into your saucepan with a fresh 1 litre / 2 pints of water


bring to the boil over a medium heat and gently simmer for 6 - 8 minutes. remove the konbu strain the bonito flakes through your sieve in the same way as you did when you made your first dashi


once you've finished making your first and second dashi, don't discard the konbu and katsuobushi - you can use the bonito flakes with a dash of soy sauce as a filling for onigiri. you can also use the konbu to make a dish called Tsukudani.


 




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