In Japanese cuisine, dashi is one of the most used ingredients. However, even though it is a basic in many Japanese dishes like miso soup, udon or eggrolls, most Japanese people don't make dashi from the scratch nowadays. Instead, many people use instant dashi powders or ready-made dashi liquids rather than homemade dashi.
However, homemade dashi is; much more flavourful, has no artificial substances, and most importantly, it is easy to make.
What is Dashi?
Dashi is a broth or stock made by boiling usually one or more ingredients such as:
Clockwise from the top left corner on the photo; dried shiitake mushrooms, dried baby sardines (Iriko or niboshi), dried kelp (Kombu) and dried bonito flakes (Katsuobushi)
For making dashi we can use various combinations of the above ingredients.
Out of the different types of dashi, we will introduce the most common seafood-based stock called Awase dashi. This dashi is a broth of dried kelps (kombu) and dried bonito flakes (katsuobushi).
How to make Dashi:
Ingredients for Ichiban dashi (the first brewed dashi) of Awase dashi :
- Water: 1 Litre
- Dried kelps (kombu): about 2 pieces of 10cm
- Dried bonito flakes (katsuobushi): 20g
*If you want to make more thicker flavor, you can add little bit more amount of dried kelp and dried bonitos.
1. Gently clean the dried kelps by wiping gently with a damp cloth. (Please try not to remove the white powdery on the dried kelp because it is "umami." Also, please do not wash the dried kelp with water.)
2. Put the dried kelps and 1 litre of water in a pot and soak the seaweed for at least 30 minutes to 1 hour (or ideally, overnight).
3. Put the saucepan on the heat, and bring it to a near-boil over medium low heat. Skim the surface if you see any impurities.
4. Just before boiling, take the dried kelp out to avoid that dashi becomes slimy and bitter.
5. Turn off the heat and let the dashi cool down slightly. After cooling down slightly, put the pan back on the heat. (You can choose to skip this step.)
6. Put the dried bonito flakes into the saucepan and boil about 2 minutes on the low heat.
7. Turn off the heat and leave it about 5 minutes to 10 minutes to let the bonito flakes sink down.
8. Take the bonito flakes (katsuobushi) out by straining the dashi with the kitchen paper or a clean woven cloth on the sieve.
9. Now done. We have just made the dashi so called Ichiban dashi (the first brewed dashi).
10. Keep the leftover kelps and the bonito flakes to make Niban dashi (the second brewed dashi).
How to make the Niban dashi of Awase dashi :
1. In the sauce pan, put 1 liter of water and the leftover kelps and the bonito flakes, and bring it to a boil over the high heat.
2. When it starts boiling, lower the heat and let it simmer for about 10 minutes.
3. Strain the dashi with a piece of kitchen paper or a clean woven cloth on the sieve.
4. Now Niban dashi is ready.
How to store the dashi
If you are not using the dashi right away, store it in a bottle or tapper ware in the refrigerator for 3 days or in the freezer for 2 to 3 weeks. (If you have ice cube tray, you can freeze the dashi in it. Then, you don't need to defrost all the dashi at one time when you want to use small amount of dashi. )
Furikake (rice seasoning)
Now you still have the left over kelps and bonito flakes after making the dashi. It is still eatable. Do you want to use the leftover kelps and bonito flakes? Let's make "Furikake" (rice seasoning) from the drained bonito flakes and the kelp.
1. Put the leftover kelps and bonito flakes into the food processor, and mince them.
2. Put the minced kelps and bonito flakes on the baking pan without any oils.
3. Roast it until the humidity goes away.
4. Once the kelp and bonito becomes little bit dried, add 1 tablespoon of soya sauce, 1 tablespoon of mirin, 1 tablespoon of sake.
5. Roast it to evaporate liquid on the medium heat. Make sure you keep stirring it, so it doesn't burn.
6. Add sesame seeds into the pan and stir them well, and turn off the heat.
7. Now Furikake is ready!
8. Enjoy the Furikake on the rice.
*suggestion: you can also make onigiri (rice balls) by mixing the furikake with steamed rice.
Hope you enjoy the whole process of making dashi and furikake from the scratch!