This one’s a fun one for anyone interested in Japanese cooking, it’s the building block of most Japanese soups, and sauces.  We’re talking about dashi!  It’s a fish stock/broth that really doesn’t require much cooking, it really doesn’t require much of anything considering it’s two ingredients and water, but those ingredients speak for themselves, and that’s the entire point.  Minimalism, simplicity, and allowing good ingredients to be the stars.  Obviously for your first couple tries you’re going to want to use the cheap stuff, but once you’ve made a few dashi stocks you’ll want to improve the quality of your ingredients as well as refine your technique.  I’ve heard of several different methods of making dashi, and this is one of my favorites because of its speed and attention to the ingredients.

Katsuoboshi or Bonito Flakes, available at any Asian Market

Katsuoboshi or Bonito Flakes, available at any Asian Market

INGREDIENTS

  • 1QT – Water
  • 1 – 5×3 Rectangle of Kombu
  • 3/4Cup – Katsuoboshi (Bonito Flakes)
Kombu, Dried Kelp, also at Asian Markets

Kombu, Dried Kelp, also at Asian Markets

RECIPE

  1. Bring water to a simmer, remove from heat
  2. Add in the kombu
  3. Allow to cool to room temp, about 30 minutes
  4. Remove kombu
  5. Bring water back to a simmer, remove from heat
  6. Add bonito flakes, let sit 3-4 mins
  7. Strain through chinois or cheese cloth lined colander
Miso Soup is made with Dashi. . . but that's for another article!!!

Miso Soup is made with Dashi. . . but that’s for another article!!!

There you have it, the basis for Japanese soups, broths, and sauces.  Remember that this is just one way to make it, and why did I decide on this version?  Because it doesn’t require you to soak your kombu overnight, it also doesn’t require you to boil your kombu.  Soaking overnight develops great flavor, but most home cooks don’t want to dedicate that much effort to stock, and even though it’s faster to bring your kombu to a boil then cut off the heat and steep it that way, you also run the risk of damaging the flavor of the kombu.  By treating the kombu itself like a teabag you will be able to steep all the flavors without damaging any of the delicate nature of the kelp.  Theoretically, one of the best methods would be to bring your water to a boil, remove from heat, and add both your kombu and bonito flakes(in cheesecloth sachet), then just retrieve the bonito after 5 minutes, and leave the kombu to steep for another 25 minutes.  I’ll try it out, and I recommend you do the same if you want to make delicious miso soup, or shiitake mushroom soup!