Dashi

Dashi is a stock made from kelp and dried bonito flakes. There are three basic types of dashi: Ichiban dashi has a fragrant aroma and delicate flavor and is used mainly in clear soups; Niban dashi is a less refined type often used as a simmering liquid. Both are often used with vegetable dishes rather than meat or fish to achieve a complete balance of flavors. The third type of dashi is Konbu dashi, made only from kelp. It is used with meat and fish dishes, in addition to dishes requiring gentler, unobtrusive seasoning.

Ichiban dashi

(makes 3 cups)

1 piece kelp (about 5x10 cm / 2 x 4 inches)
3-3/4 C water
1 C dried shaved bonito flakes

Wipe kelp with a clean dry cloth, leaving as much white powder as possible on the surface.
Heat kelp and water in pot over medium heat. Remove kelp just before water boils.
Add tablespoon of water to restrain the boiling; add flakes and reduce the heat. Simmer for 1 minute then remove from heat.
Let flakes sink to bottom of pot for a few minutes.
Over a bowl, strain the flakes from the dashi. Keep kelp and flakes if making Niban dashi.

Niban dashi

(makes 2 cups)

2 C water
Reserved kelp and bonito flakes from making Ichiban dashi

Bring ingredients to a boil over medium heat.
Reduce heat, let simmer for 3-4 minutes.
Strain over a bowl.

Konbu dashi

(makes 3 cups)

1 piece kelp (about 5x17 cm / 2x7 inches)
3-1/2 C water

Wipe kelp as in Ichiban dashi.
Score several times, place in water and let sit for 6-8 hours.
Simmer over low heat for 20-30 minutes then remove the kelp.

Hints

* The white powder on the surface of the kelp adds flavor to the broth.
* If room temperature is more than 25C / 77F, place pot of water and kelp in the refrigerator for 8 hours before simmering.