For most of us ‘stock’ begins with a combination of fish or meat with vegetables such as carrot, onion, leek and celery together with herbs like bay leaf, thyme and parsley. Dashi, the classic stock from the Japanese cuisine, is very different: it takes between one and four ingredients and takes only 30 minutes to prepare. The ingredients are kelp (kombu), dried small anchovies or sardines, dried shiitake and dried bonito flakes (katsuobushi). The simplest dashi is made from kombu only. Its taste is gentle with a touch of umami. Great vegetarian stock.
The best known is (awase) dashi and it’s made from kombu and katsuobushi. This one is the basis for oden, miso soup and many other dishes. It’s also the basis of our Dashi with Matsutake and Shrimps and for Dashi with Nameko and Shrimps. If you add a splash of dashi and some Japanese mustard (karashi) to your mayonnaise you can make your own Japanese mayonnaise.
Katsuobushi is made from bonito or tuna. It’s a complex and time-consuming process, so don’t be surprised to pay between € 10,00 and € 15,00 per 100 gram. For one litre of dashi you only need 20 gram, so don’t worry too much about the costs. And you can make a ‘second’ dashi by repeating the process with the same kombu and katsuobushi.
A true Japanese chef will begin her or his day with shaving katsuobushi. We simply buy shaved katsuobushi. It comes in bags of 25 or 40 grams.
What You Need
- 1 litre of Water
- 20 gram of Kombu
- 20 gram of Katsuobushi
What You Do
With a wet cloth gently clean the kombu. Put the kombu in the cold water and heat slowly to 80° Celsius or 175° Fahrenheit. Take you time! When the temperature has reached 80° Celsius or 175° Fahrenheit, remove the kombu (and store for using it for a second dashi). Bring the liquid to the boil, reduce heat, add the katsuobushi, bring to a boil and remove from heat. Let sit for 10 minutes or so until the katsuobushi has sunk to the bottom. Pass the liquid through a sieve. You can also use a clean cloth, but don’t squeeze it. You want a clear broth. The dashi can be used immediately, stored in your refrigerator for a few days or kept in the freezer for a few weeks.