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Preparing Dashi

There are three basic types, of dashi, which are essential to many Japanese dishes: Taking the best from both Bonito and Kelp, Ichiban-Dashi has a fragrant aroma an a delicate flavor, and is uses mainly in clear soups. Niban-Dashi, a less refined version of Ichiban-Dashi, is often used as a simmering liquid. Both are usually used with vegetable dishes rather than meat or fish dishes to achieve a complete balance of flavors. In the same way, Konbu-Dashi, made only from Kelp, is used with meat and fish dishes, in addition to dishes that call for gentler, unobtrusive seasoning, such as Sushi Rice.

Most Japanese no longer make Dashi from scratch, preferring to mix it from concentrate: a mixing chart is included after the recipes. One advantage to using concentrade is that you can easily make just a small amount. If you choose the make Dashi from scratch, you can freeze any extra, and it also will keep in the refrigerator for about 3 days.


Ichiban-Dashi

To make 3 cups, use:
1 piece of kelp (about 5 x 10 cm / 2 x 4 in)
3 ¾ cups water
1 cup dried shaved Bonito flakes

  1. Gently wipe the kelp with a clean, dry cloth, trying to leave as much white powder as possible on the surface. Make a scratch on the surface several times.

  2. Heat the kelp and water in a pot with over medium heat. Remove the kelp just before the water begins to boil.

  3. Add a tablespoon of water to restrain the boiling, then add the bonito flakes and reduce the heat. Let the flakes sink to the bottom of the pot for a few minutes.

  4. Strain the flakes from the Dashi. Keep the kelp and flakes if you are making Niban-Dashi.



Niban-Dashi

To make 2 cups, use:
Reserved Kelp and Bonito flakes from making Ichiban-Dashi

Bring the ingredients to a boil over medium heat. Reduce the heat and let simmer for 3 to 4 minutes, then strain.


Konbu-Dashi

To make 3 cups, use:
1 piece kelp (about 5 x 7 cm / 2 x 7 in)
3 ½ cups water

  1. Gently wipe the kelp with a clean, dry cloth, trying to leave as much white powder as possible on the surface. Make a scratch on the surface several times. Place the kelp and water in a pot and let sit for 6 to 8 hours.

  2. Simmer over low heat for 20 to 30 minutes, then remove the Kelp.



Hints:
  • The white powder on the surface of Kelp adds flavour to the broth. Try not to wipe it off, although sometimes this is unavoidable.

  • If room temperature is over 25°C, place the pot of water an kelp in the refrigerator for 8 hours before simmering.



Udon Noodle Soup - Japanese noodles harmonise with Dashi base soup well