Dashi stock is the simplest stock you will ever make. There is no cutting involved and barely any measuring. The 2-3 ingredients needed can be kept in your pantry almost indefinitely.
This flavorful stock is the base for many Japanese dishes and chances are you have encountered it in the ubiquitous miso soup. Unfortunately, many restaurants and even Japanese households now depend on boxed dashi stock. While slightly, JUST SLIGHTLY, more convenient, the most popular brands contain 8 additional unnecessary ingredients. Instead of gently coaxing you into bliss with subtle nuances, the boxed stock wallops you in the face with its chemical flavor enhancers. Trust me the homemade stuff is worlds better.
Dashi is traditionally made with kombu, dried kelp, and katsuobushi, dried bonito flakes. If I have any on hand, I also like to add some dried sardines, but that is entirely optional. To really get everything out of your ingredients, make what is known as ichiban dashi/first dashi, save the ingredients, and immediately make niban dashi/second dashi. I use the ichiban dashi for soups where the concentrated dashi flavor is important. The niban dashi is a bit more muddled in its flavors, so it is good when combined with other sauces like soy sauce.
Both stocks should keep in the fridge in a sealed container for 3-5 days. If keeping for longer, freeze in ice cube trays.
This is so easy to make that there are absolutely no excuses for the powdered stuff. NO EXCUSES!
B A S I C D A S H I S T O C K
adapted from Everyday Harumi by Harumi Kurihara
for ichiban dashi/first dashi
Rinse the kombu pieces under cold water to get rid of any extraneous salt. In a medium sized pot, rehydrate the kombu in 5 cups of cold water. Allow to sit for about 30 minutes. Then, set the pot over high heat. Right before it reaches a boil, remove the kombu pieces and set aside for second dashi. Add the katsuobushi and dried sardines. Bring to a boil, and turn off the heat immediately. Allow to steep for 15 minutes. With a fine mesh strainer, strain the liquid. Use a spoon to press out as much of the liquid as possible. Don’t let any go to waste! Save the katsuobushi and sardines.
for niban dashi/second dashi
Combine the saved kombu, katsuobushi, and sardines in the rest of the cold water. Set over high heat and bring to a boil. Let boil for 10-15 minutes. Strain.
* katsuobushi = kitty crack. Many people like to give them to their cats as treats. Be sure to properly close and store your bag when you are done using. If you don’t you will probably find a curious nose buried in the the bag, getting everything inside all hairy.
Make this with your dashi stock:
Tofu Meatballs in Miso Soup
Oven Poached Salmon w/Maitake Mushrooms and Sugar Snap Peas