What is DASHI ?

DASHI is the base of Japanese cuisine.

"DASHI" is Japanese name for "Broth" or soup made by cooking seafood or vegetables. There are many types of fish and other ingredients used as DASHI stock. Often, executive chef of each restaurants decides which ingredients to use depending on dishes or menu.

■Type of Popular DASHI Stock

Bonito (Katsuo) Elegant aroma and sharpe UMAMI, slight sourness is characteristic.
Tuna (Maguro) Very light, soft sweetness. Enhance taste of ingredients.
Mackerel (Saba) Strong sweetness and richness. Strong fish aroma.
Sardine (Iwashi) Strong UMAMI, but characteristic fish aroma and bitterness.
Scad (Agi) Similar to Mackerel, less fish aroma.
Sodagatsuo Strong richness with some tartness.
Kombu (Kelp) Very light DASHI with slight sweetness.

DASHI serves as creating foundation of taste or UMAMI in Japanese cuisine. Without DASHI, the dish will not have depth or richness in taste. Especially, Bonito and Kelp are known as quality broth stock as well as their compatibility with variety of foods.

Let's think in a case of famous Japanese food, "Miso Soup".
A popular ingredients of Miso soup are following.
  ・Miso (soy bean paste)
  ・Tofu (soy bean curd)
  ・Seaweed (wakame)
  ・Green Onion

Each above ingredients has characteristic taste and flavor. If we cook Miso soup with just water we can feel taste of each ingredients separately in mouth. DASHI will unify taste of each ingredients and create new taste and flavor. A simple dish like Miso soup will be upgraded by just changing water to DASHI soup.

Kezuribushi/Dried Fish Flakes
In order to use fish as soup stock, the fish will be dried and shaved in flake form with various thickness depending on usage.

 <Thin Flakes>
Thin flakes are known as Hanakezuri or flowery flake because the flake look like flower petals. Thin flakes give us very clear and flavory DASHI soup that is necessary in Japanese cuisine. Very first DASHI soup made from thin flake are called "ICHIBAN DASHI" and used for kind of dishes emphasis rich flavor or aroma.
 <Thick Flakes>
Thick flake give us very strong DASHI that has impact in taste. A famous dish is a dipping sauce of Soba (buckwheat) noodles. Buckwheat have characteristic flavor and it requires very strong sauce to go with it. DASHI soup to mix with the sauce have to be strong as well to keep the flavor without erased by sauce.

As we mentioned above, Bonito and Kelp are important DASHI ingredients in Japanese cuisines. Each ingredients give us quality DASHI soup, but when we mix them together it is said the taste and flavor will be multiply many times because of synergistic effect. This mixed dashi is a basic Japanese cuisine and used in many dishes.

How to make "DASHI"

① Wipe Kombu with damp cloth to clean. Put water and Konbu in a pot, and soak Kombu for 1/2 to 1 hour.  
② Place pot over medium heat. When small bubbles appear, remove Kombu. Keeping Kombu in pot is one way, it will make soup gruel.  
③ When water begins to boil, add dried Bonito flakes at once. Turn off heat and wait for 1 minute.  
④ Strain DASHI soup through a sieve of fine mesh or paper towel slowly to obtain clear soup.  
⑤ It is the best to use DASHi soup as soon as possible before it lose rich flavor.  

It is tradition and the best to use DASHI introduced in above. However, DASHI making is consuming job along with problems of escalating price of DASHI ingredients.Therefore there are many alternative form of DASHI stock available in market.

Alternative Form of DASHI Stock Powder, Pouch and Liquid

  <Powder DASHI>
Because of its handiness powder DASHI have been widely used among many Japanese cuisine funs. Reasonable price is attractive point as well. However, it is an artificial flavor. We want to chose products carefully by checking amount of additive substance of MSG in the products.
 <DASHI in Pouch/Pack DASHI>
Packed DASHI is very smart product. There are difference in manufacturer, but most of the pack contains fractured actual dried bonitoes or other fish and vegetables. It keeps flavor very close to real DASHI stock and reduce the trouble of filtering.
 <Liquid Seasoning / TSUYU>
"TSUYU" is Japanese name of liquid seasoning that contains DASHI, soy sauce, and other ingredients. DASHI will serves as creating flavor and body of taste, soy sauce and other ingredients to seasoning food. By using TSUYU, we can create quality Japanese flavor easily.