today is May 22, 2022

If you love cooking Japanese dishes at home, you will realize very early on that you need to master how to prepare dashi. Dashi (だし, 出汁) is Japanese cooking stock that is used in almost all Japanese dishes. You will certainly need it for miso soup, clear soup, noodle broth, and all sorts of dishes with sauce be it thick or thin. It may even sneak up in grilled and fried dishes such as the popular takoyaki (fried squid balls) and tamagoyaki (rolled omelet). So, let’s learn how to make dashi at home, shall we?

Dashi - Japanese Stock

Dashi - Japanese Stock

Japanese dashi ingredients

There are several varieties of Japanese dashi, but the most common is awase dashi (合わせだし), and it is made from konbu (昆布) and katsuoboshi (鰹節). Konbu is an edible kelp, also known as dasima (다시마) in Korean, and haidai (海带) in Chinese. Katsuobushi is dried and smoked skipjack tuna, usually, we use the shavings for dashi, and the shavings are called hanakatsuo (花かつお).

How to make homemade Japanese dashi from scratch

To make Japanese awase dashi, we will need:

  • 20 gram konbu
  • 20 gram bonito flakes (hanakatsuo)
  • 4 cup water

And here is the process:

  1. Wipe the dried konbu kelp gently with a damp kitchen towel.
  2. Place konbu kelp and water in a pot over medium heat. Remove konbu just before the water boils.
  3. Add bonito flakes. When the water boils, remove the pot from the heat at once.
  4. Once bonito flakes sink to the bottom of the pot, strain through a fine-mesh sieve to obtain dashi.

You can use the awase dashi right away, or store in a clean glass jar for up to 5 days in a fridge, or up to 2 weeks in the freezer.

Vegan-friendly shiitake dashi

For vegans and vegetarians, you may want to try shiitake dashi instead. You will need:

  • 40 gram (6-8) dried shiitake mushrooms
  • 4 cup water

And here is the process:

  1. Gently wipe the dried shiitake mushrooms to remove dirt.
  2. Place dried shiitake and water in a container to soak overnight. If possible, place a plate on top the mushrooms so they will be fully submerged in the water.
  3. Once the mushrooms are fully rehydrated, they will become soft and tender. Squeeze the mushrooms to remove all the water.
  4. The rehydrated shiitake mushrooms can be used in dishes and recipes that call for shiitake mushrooms.
  5. Pour the soaking liquid through a fine-mesh sieve to remove dirt. This liquid is our shiitake dashi.

You can use the shiitake dashi right away, or store in a clean glass jar for up to 3 days in a fridge, or up to 1 month in the freezer.

Japanese recipes using dashi

Now that you know how to make your own Japanese dashi, let’s use your homemade stock to prepare these recipes:

  1. Japanese soups
    • tofu and wakame miso soup
    • tonjiru - pork and vegetables miso soup
    • ozoni - new year soup with rice cakes
  2. Japanese rice dishes
    • oyako don - chicken and egg on rice
    • gyudon - Japanese beef bowl
    • takikomi gohan - Japanese mixed rice
  3. Japanese meat dishes
    • niku jaga - braised beef and potato
    • buta kaku ni - braised pork belly
    • oden - Japanese winter stew
  4. Japanese vegetable dishes
    • broccolini with sesame dressing
    • simmered acorn squash
    • simmered shiitake mushrooms
  5. Japanese tofu dishes
    • inari zushi - sushi in tofu pouches
    • yu doufu - simmered tofu
    • Kyoto style tofu and shimeji in ankake sauce