Dashi is Japanese soup stock that builds the bases for many of your favorite Japanese dishes like miso soup, chawanmushi, ramen, and shabu shabu. It is the essence of authentic Japanese flavor, and it tells the dishes apart if other substitutions are being used in place of the soup stock. And what defines dashi is the use of carefully selected ingredients like kombu, bonito flakes, shiitake mushrooms, and anchovies, and each ingredient is uniquely Japanese.
Ingredients for making the Dashi
- ⅓ dried kelp (10 g, 4″ x 4″ OR 10 cm x 10 cm)
- ⅓ dried bonito flakes (10 g, 1 cup)
- 4 cups water (roughly 1000 ml)
Method of making the Dashi
- Gather all the ingredients. Most Japanese recipes would say to gently clean the kombu with a damp cloth. However, these days, kombu is pretty clean so just make sure it doesn’t look musty. do not wash or wipe off the white powdery substance (Mannitol), which contributes to the umami flavor in dashi.
- Make a couple of slits on the kombu, which will help release more flavor.
Make Cold Brew Kombu Dashi
- Put water and kombu in a large bottle and let it steep on the counter for 2-3 hours in the summertime and 4-5 hours in the winter time. You can also cold brew kombu dashi overnight in the refrigerator.
To Make Awase Dashi
- In a medium pot, put the kombu and water. If you have cold brew Kombu Dashi (previous step), add Kombu Dashi and hydrated kombu in the pot.
- Turn on the heat to medium-low heat and slowly bring to almost boil, about 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, clean the dashi by skimming the surface.
- Just before the dashi starts boiling, remove kombu from the pot (Reserve the kombu and see below for what to do with it). If you leave the kombu inside, the dashi will become slimy and bitter.
- Add the katsuobushi and bring it to a boil again, skimming occasionally.
- Once the dashi is boiling, reduce the heat, simmer for just 30 seconds, and turn off the heat.
- Let the katsuobushi sink to the bottom, about 10 minutes.
- Strain the dashi through a fine-mesh sieve over a bowl or measuring cup (Reserve the katsuobushi and see below for what to do with it). Awase Dashi is ready to use.