Dashi is to the Japanese as pasta is to the Italians. It’s the heart of hundreds of Japanese dishes.
Fortunately, it is not like other broths that you have to leave boiling for hours. Dashi is simple to make and only takes 20 minutes.
What you’ll need:
- About a 10cm square piece of dried konbu, about the size of your hand.
Konbu (kelp) is a type of seaweed. It’s better to buy wild konbu as it’s more flavourful and goes further.
- 10-15g (1 generous handful) of katsuobushi.
Katsuobushi are the fish flakes that you sprinkle over okonomiyaki. It’s Skipjack Tuna or Bonito that has been cooked, smoked, pressed, preserved into a block and then shredded.
- 1 litre of water.
1. To begin, place the konbu in a pan with cold water. The konbu is quite tough so it needs a slow approach to release the flavour. Start with a low heat and leave the konbu to warm lightly. When the pan shows signs of boiling the konbu stage is done.
Note: If you’re a vegetarian strain out the konbu and stop here. This is a vegetarian safe dashi that still has the taste of the sea from the fragrant konbu.
2. Leaving the konbu in the pan, add the katsuobushi. Turn the heat up a little to bring it to a slow boil, as the fish flakes are so light it doesn’t take long for the flavour to escape and over boiling it can ruin it. After it’s started boiling, or when the flakes have sunk to the bottom, turn the heat off and let it rest for a minute.
3. All that’s left is to strain out the konbu and katsuobushi and it’s finished.
(Tip: Save the leftover konbu and katsuobushi in the fridge or freezer to make konbu tsukudani another time)
Dashi can be used for loads of other dishes, Tamagoyaki, Miso soup and as a base for Udon to name a few. You could even have it as is, enjoy!
Dan is a first year ALT who enjoys nothing more than a tabe-nomi houdai. He loves Japanese food, travelling and snowboarding.