Making Dashi

Dashi, Japanese stock, is an essential ingredient to Japanese cooking. The straightforward process of making basic dashi involves extracting the fundamental umami from both konbu (kelp) and katsuobushi (dried shaved bonito flakes). This savory taste element embodies the flavor for which Japanese cuisine is known. Below are instructions for making basic dashi.

Dashi / konbu and katsuobushi

Dashi / konbu and katsuobushi

Basic Dashi (makes 3 cups)

  • 1 piece of konbu, approx. 5cm x 10cm (2 in. x 4 in.)
  • 3 3/4C water
  • 1C katsuobushi

  1. Heat konbu in water in a pot over medium heat. Remove konbu just before the water begins to boil. (photo1)
  2. Add 1T of water to slow the boiling; add katsuobushi and reduce heat. Simmer for a minute, them remove from heat. Let the katsuobushi sink to the bottom of the pot for a few minutes. (photo2)
  3. Strain the katsuobushi from the dashi. Set aside both konbu and katsuobushi to make niban-dashi.* (photo3)
    * Niban-dashi (literally, second dashi): in a pot of cold water, bring the used konbu and katsuobushi to a boil together and simmer for 3-4 minutes.
photo1 photo2 photo3

No ingredients are wasted in the making of dashi. The used konbu may be simmered in soy sauce and sugar to make tsukudani, while the katsuobushi may be used as furikake, a seasoned dried condiment to sprinkle over rice.

Varieties of Dashi

konbu-dashi
Made only from konbu. There are two ways to make konbu-dashi: one is to simmer as in making basic dashi; the other is to soak the konbu in water for several hours. (In warm climates, konbu and water must be kept chilled.)

Katsuo-dashi
Made by simmering katsuobushi as in making basic dashi.

Niboshi-dashi
Made by simmering niboshi, dried small sardines. Remove head and gut from niboshi before cooking. This dashi is often made at home for miso soup.

Niboshi
Niboshi

Other ingredients such as dried shiitake mushrooms are also used to make dashi.