Japanese ingredients for your healthy life

How to use dashi

Adaptable and delicious

Dashi (It is the Japanese word for Stock) is the key ingredient in many Japanese recipes, looking through Japanese recipe books you will find that most of them arenft able to be completed without this ingredient.
Some chefs have been known to refer to dashi as gPerfumed waterh.


Dashi is a class of soup and cooking stock. Dashi forms the base for miso soup, clear broth, noodle broth and many kinds of simmering liquid. The most common form of dashi is a simple broth or fish stock which is made by heating water that contains kombu (this is edible kelp) and kezurikatsuo to near boiling, you then strain the resultant liquid.


Japanese cooking is a combination of simplicity in presentation and a depth of flavour to bring out the best in fresh produce. Many of the recipes with the depth in flavour are thanks to great condiments such as Japanese Mayonnaise, Wasabi or dashi.
Dashi is made in less than twenty minutes and using only three ingredients (water, dried fish and dried kelp. It is optional to add in shitake mushrooms too), try making it at least once. There are powdered and granulated dashi packets available for purchase in many Asian grocers but these can contain nasty additives and MSG which is why the health conscious will always recommend attempting your own. There really actually is nothing to making dashi and you will be surprised at just how easy it is and how many recipes it can be used in.


Firstly, letfs just give you a brief rundown of a number of the things you can cook with dashi, so you will get a better understanding of just how versatile it can be in any recipe:

  • Miso Soup
  • As the base for noodle broth or clear broth
  • As a simmering liquid
  • Turnips cooking in dashi with a miso glaze
  • Russian Kale with dashi and smoked salt
  • Udon Noodle Soup with dashi
  • Steam vegetables using dashi
  • Make soup using dashi


Ok, so there you go ? you probably can see just how easy it can be to start incorporating dashi into your recipe catalogue. Letfs now focus on a couple of the most popular.


Miso Soup is a traditional Japanese soup using the dashi stock, and softened miso paste is mixed, on top of this many ingredients are added to the recipe depending on regional and seasonal recipes, and of course your own personal preference.


Outside of Japan, American or European style miso soup is sometimes made by dissolving miso in a western vegetable stock, other non dashi bases can even be used, however there is some great debate over whether or not miso soups made using these non-traditional bases count as true miso soups.


Miso soup can be prepared in several different ways depending on the person cooking it and the style of soup. Japanese miso soup recipes most often call for vegetables and meats to be cooked in simmering dashi ? in particular these vegetables are mushrooms, daikon, carrots, potatoes, tofu and for the meats, fish. The miso is put separately in some dashi stock removed from the simmering mix, to keep the paste from cooking, which can alter the flavour and also kills beneficial bacteria therefore reducing the health benefits of biologically active miso paste. When the vegetables are cooked, the stock is removed from the heat, the separate concoction of miso paste and dash are mixed in and any uncooked ingredients are added in, simple as that ? the dish is served.


Miso soup and white rice make up the traditional central dishes of a Japanese breakfast. The soup is a favourite of commoners and royalty for many centuries.


Many of you will be aware of the newer phenomenons outside of Japan, Pho. The base of most pho dishes is dashi. Otherwise known as Noodle soup, this is a favourite of Japanese culture. Similar to Miso soup, how it tastes and what you add to the recipe will always depend on who is making it, and the mix of flavours the chef enjoys. For those of you who havenft tried noodle soup or Pho, Noodle soup refers to a variety of soups with noodles and other ingredients served in a light broth, the broth is prepared using the dashi sauce and is an Asian staple. The types of noodles that are added to the broth to make these types of soup range from rice noodles to egg noodles.


Traditional Japanese noodles in soup are served in a hot soy dashi broth and garnished with chopped scallions and there are many variations and recipes. Popular toppings include tempura, tempura batter or deep fried tofu. Noodles using in Japanese noodles include soba noodles and udon noodles.


These recipes are all phenomenal, there is nothing better than a beautiful warm broth or soup on a cold wintery day, so hop to it, get preparing and in case you donft know how here is a quick how to on the preparation of dashi.


Making dashi is not too difficult, to make it you will need one or more of the following ingredients: katsuobushi which is dried bonito flakes (bonito is part of the tuna family), Niboshi which is dried baby sardines or dried shiitake mushrooms. As well as this, youfll need kombu which is a kelp that is taken from the sea and dried in the sun. Itfs rich in vitamins and minerals, dietary fibre and protein so itfs very good for you. Lastly, youfll need water.


Making dashi is pretty simply because the ingredients do the work. All you do is soak a piece of kombu in water in order to steep out as much flavour as you can. Once this part is complete, put it on the stove and cook it until just before the water starts to boil then remove it from the heat, put in the katsuobushi and let everything sit. Pretty easy right!


Lastly, just put the stock through a lined strainer directly into a bowl where the stock can be kept. That's it, youfve just made dashi, there really is not more to it than that, if youfve got this far then you have completed it!