Dashi is a wonderfully simple, yet complex Japenese stock that can be used in a multitude of ways and freezes well. Dashi, the quentisential Japanese staple, used much the way we use chicken stock in the US, is light and clean, yet full-bodied with hints of the ocean without tasting fishy. Dashi enhances the flavors of food by providing umami, without imparting too much of its own flavor. And, it is super easy to make- it consists of 3 ingredients (kombu, bonito flakes and water) and takes only 15 minutes of steeping. Kombu, is sea kelp that is harvested from the cold waters of Hokkaido, Japan then sun-dried and cut into rectangles. Kombu is a great source of umami and dietary fiber. Bonito flakes are dried, fermented and shaved smoked bonito fish and are sometimes replaced with katsuoboshi flakes, which are smoked skipjack, and revered by high end chefs, yet often difficult to find. Kombu and bonito flakes have become readily available at grocery stores, asian markets and online and pretty accessible- so please, don't go out and buy powered or boullion dashi, you will be missing out on something magnificent.
- ½ ounces kombu (one 5x6-inch piece)
- 1 ½ ounces (3 cups) lightly packed bonito flakes or shaved katsuobushi)
- 8 cups filtered water
- Gently wipe kombu with damp towel to remove any dirt or grit, but don't wipe away any of the white spots, they are full of great umami flavor!
- Combine water and kombu in a medium, heavy-bottomed pot and set over medium heat.
- Heat uncovered until you see small bubbles break the surface of the water, about 10 minutes.
- Remove from heat immediately, do not allow to boil.
- Remove kombu with tongs, dripping out (but not squeezing) remaining liquid, and discard.
- Add bonito flakes to the pot and stir gently to distribute flakes, and allow to steep for about 1 minute.
- Skim off white froth that accumulates on water surface, and steep for an additional 2 minutes.
- Pour dashi through cheese cloth or sturdy paper towel lined strainer of sieve. Gently press flakes to gather last bit of liquid before discarding the flakes.
- Use dashi immediately or store in fridge for up to 4 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months in air tight container.