YouTube Video on Awase Dashi here.
Amazingly simple to make, packing a subtle yet complex Umami flavour, Dashi is Japanese for stock is the mainstay of many Japanese soups, sauces & a host of other dishes.
Dashi is so easy to make from scratch that after reading this, you’ll never reach for a sachet or ready made version – ever! If you have a Japanese store nearby where you get anything Japanese, chances are, they’ll stock at least one of the two combination ingredients you’ll need to make Dashi.
There are a few variations of Dashi:
Awase Dashi – made with
Kombu – a seaweed with a tough leathery feel that comes in rectangles about 8″ long
Katsuobushi – flakes of dried bonito
Iriko Dashi – made with
Iriko/Niboshi – dried baby sardines or dried anchovies
Hoshi-shiitake Dashi – made with
Dried shiitake mushrooms
My grounding in Japanese cooking came from a former landlady. Having just moved out of the family home, I was very fortunate to have met the world’s best landlord! Within a week of me moving in, it was obvious that we were going to get on like a house on fire, we had so many things in common – food, music, dancing & most importantly, the same sense of humour!
She was horrified at my ignorance of all things Japanese and made it her ambition in the year that I was with her, to Japanify me, in her own words.
My very first Japanese cookery lesson? Yup, I learnt to make Dashi! For a whole week, until I got it just right – the way her mother made it! Boy did we have a lot of frozen Dashi cubes in the freezer that week!
But it was quid pro quo. On alternate weeks, I’d teach her local cooking. We really had the best year, we must have had so many people over for lunch and dinner, no cooking class is complete without guinea pigs! Once a month, she’d invite her Japanese friends over and I would make dinner, completely on my own, the only help I got was in serving the food! Wonderful memories!
Anyway, let’s start with the first Dashi recipe – Awase Dashi. The interesting thing about this stock is that you can have 2 versions of it, Ichiban Dashi and Niban Dashi.
Ichiban Dashi is the first stock, made with fresh ingredients and Niban Dashi is the second stock, reusing the kombu & katsuobushi for a slightly lighter dashi.
Ichiban Dashi (makes about a litre)
1.2 litres water
1 8″ strip of Kombu, snipped in half
a good handful of bonito flakes (or a good cupful)
1. Soak the kombu in the water in a large saucepan for 20 minutes.
2. Put the saucepan on the stove on medium heat and let it come to a simmer, simmering it for 5 minutes.
3. Turn the heat off, scatter the katsuobushi all over and let sit for 10 minutes at which point the flakes may or may not have sunk to the bottom. Don’t fret if yours haven’t!
4. Double line a sieve with the muslin and strain the stock into a bowl. Keep the kombu and katsuobushi for the Niban Dashi.
1 litre water
Kombu & Katsuobushi from Ichiban Dashi
1. Simmer everything for 15 minutes, strain.
Dashi can be kept in the fridge for 3 days, afer that, I find that it loses its potency. What you can do though, is freeze it. Ice cube trays are perfect for small portions!