Dashi is a broth used to make miso soup.
One or more of:
- dried konbu (kelp) seaweed (konbu)
- clams (asari or shijimi)
- dried bonito flakes (katsuo-bushi)
- dried mackerel flakes (sababushi)
- dried sardines or anchovies (niboshi)
- dried shiittake mushroom mushrooms (hoshi-shiitake)
- dried young "flying fishes" (飛魚;tobiuo or あご;ago,unique name to Japanese-oceanside.)
- If using sardines or anchovies, remove the heads and intestines. Discard these, keeping the bodies.
- Boil fish in water, as if you were making tea.
- Filter the liquid or scoop the solids out of it. The liquid is your dashi.
When only kelp (konbu) is used, you get kombu-dashi. This is bland, and appears to be unpopular for use in miso soup. A chunk of kelp about 6 inches across might be reasonable for a quart of broth.
When sardines or anchovies also used, you get niboshi-dashi. This seems to be the most popular choice for making miso soup. You might add a bit of sake in this case. About 10 little fish (guppy-sized) per quart of broth should do.
When both kelp (konbu) and bonito flakes (katsuo-bushi) are used, you get katsuobushi-dashi. This appears to be the second most popular choice for making miso soup. About 1 cup of bonito flakes per quart of broth should do. At first you produce primary dashi (ichiban-dashi). This is good for clear soups. If you use the solids a second time, you get secondary dashi (niban-dashi). This is good for thick soups and for cooking vegetables.
Simple Soup Dashi
This Dashi can be used to make a miso soup similar to those served in restaurants in North America.
- 3 large handfuls of dried, smoked, thinly-shaved skipjack tuna (katsuobushi)
- 4 or 5 4 inch long sheets of kombu seaweed
- 4-8 cups of water (7 cups, or 1.5L of water, will make a strong enough dashi for restaurant-quality miso)
- Cut small gashes into the kombu. Do not wash the kombu; the white powder on the exterior is actually natural, crystallized MSG and gives the soup flavour.
- Place the kombu into the water and bring it to a boil, skimming the surface periodically
- Just as the water begins to simmer, remove the kombu (this may be re-infused with less water a second time to make an inferior dashi suitable for cooking)
- Let the stock cool down for approximately 5 minutes
- Add the flaked tuna and stir, returning to heat
- Permit it to boil for about 30 seconds and remove from heat
- After a few minutes, the fish will sink to the bottom. Strain the stock through a fine mesh filter (cheese-cloth works well), squeezing the fish to extract every bit of juice (this may be re-infused as well)
- Store in the fridge for up to 5 days, and in the freezer for up to 6 months
- Both kombu and the fish may be found at most reasonably-sized Asian markets or bought cheaply on-line
- Katsuobushi is sold in many forms, including small, single-serving packets and in mesh bags to aid removal. An 80g bag of the flakes will make about 4L of stock.
- Most cheap restaurants in Japan and abroad use a powdered mix of salt, MSG, and fish-flavour extract from Ajinomoto, the company whose founder discovered MSG and a Knorr-like presence in Japan. This powdered "instant dashi" is also readily available in the places mentioned above. The recipe provided here will provide a less-salty, deeper-flavoured but similar broth.