Dashi is a soup stock that is essential in Japanese cuisine. You’ll find it as a base for many dishes, such as miso soup, noodle soup, hot pot, and a variety of sauces. Dashi gives a savory or umami flavor to the food, thanks to the glutamic acid and inosinic acid from the ingredients it’s made from.
Dashi is usually made of water, kombu (dried kelp), and katsuobushi (dried bonito flakes). There are some varieties where other ingredients are added, such as shiitake mushrooms, niboshi (dried baby sardines), or iriko (dried anchovies).
There are different types of dashi, depending on the ingredients used:
- Awase dashi: made from kombu and katsuobushi
- Kombu dashi: made from kombu only (vegan-friendly)
- Katsuo dashi: made from katsuobushi only
- Iriko dashi: made from iriko or niboshi
- Shiitake dashi: made from shiitake mushrooms (vegan-friendly)
Making dashi is very simple and quick. Here are the basic steps:
- Soak the kombu in water for about 15 minutes to extract its flavor.
- Bring the water to a boil and remove the kombu before it boils.
- Add the katsuobushi and simmer for a few minutes.
- Strain the liquid and discard the solids.
Dashi is used whenever liquid is called for in a Japanese recipe. It adds depth and richness to the dish. Some of the common uses of dashi are:
- Miso soup: add miso paste and tofu to dashi and bring to a boil
- Noodle soup: add soy sauce, mirin, sake to dashi and bring to a boil. Serve with noodles and toppings of your choice
- Hot pot: add soy sauce, mirin, sake, and salt to dashi and bring to a boil. Add vegetables, meat, seafood, tofu, and noodles and cook in the broth
- Sauces: add soy sauce, mirin, sake, and arrowroot to dashi and bring to a boil. Use as a sauce for tempura, katsu, or teriyaki
Dashi is not only delicious but also nutritious. It has many purported heath benefits. It’s hydrating by providing a source of water and electrolytes to the body. It’s known to be a mood elevator and relieve mental fatigue due to it’s amino acid makeup. Dashi has been reported to assist in lowering blood pressure and assisting the body in preventing heart disease thanks to the superfood Kombu. It also can assist in thyroid functioning due to its iodine content, though please note that some people with thyroid conditions may need to forego this. It can even assist the body with bone health from its high calcium content.
Here is an easy recipe for making awase dashi at home. This recipe is even fantastic to have when you are on a functional cleanse. Make it ahead of time and heat some up each morning in lieu of our Vegan Bone Broth.
All you will need:
- 4 cups of water
- 10 grams of kombu
- 20 grams of katsuobushi
- Wipe the kombu with a damp cloth to remove any dirt. Cut a few slits on the surface to help release its flavor.
- Place the kombu in a pot with water and let it soak for 15 minutes.
- Heat the pot over medium-high heat and remove the kombu just before it boils.
- Add the katsuobushi and bring the water to a boil again.
- Lower the heat and simmer for 5 minutes.
- Strain the liquid through a fine-mesh sieve or cheesecloth. Discard the solids or use them for another purpose.
Your dashi is ready! You can use it right away or store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months. This recipe is great to keep in your easy to use arsenal for protecting your microbiome through food.
Next time a recipe calls for liquid replace it with your dashi!