Dashi (Japanese Soup Stock)

Dashi Ingredients

Dashi (along with soy sauce, miso, and mirin) is one of the four cornerstones of Japanese cuisine. Given the simple, understated nature of many Japanese dishes, good dashi is what sets apart bland salty water from a deeply nuanced miso soup.

While the ingredients used to make dashi varies regionally, the most basic dashi used in most Japanese dishes is made using dashi konbu (kelp for stock) and katsuobushi (dried bonito). The konbu is soaked overnight in cold water to slowly release the flavor and the resulting liquid is brought to a boil before adding freshly shaved katsuobushi, which is then left to steep for 5-10 minutes.

These days, many households use instant dashi granules, which is like the bouillon cube of Japan. Unfortunately, the stock made from these granules tastes nothing like real dashi and it’s often full of salt and MSG.

dashi-pack-2

My compromise is to use dashi bags, they’re like tea bags and contain whole ingredients such as shaved bonito and kelp without any additives. Like tea, dashi bags vary in quality, which is usually reflected in the price. They can be tough to find in the US unless you have a Japanese grocery store near you, but you can also find them at online Japanese grocery stores like Marukai and Mitsuwa.

Dashi Packs

While the ingredients are always translated, the instructions often aren’t. Luckily you can easily figure out the amount of water to use per pack by looking for either “XXX ml” or “XXX cc” (see the examples below). The measurements are given in milliliters or cubic centimeters, which are the same thing. Pyrex measuring cups include marks for milliliters. If you see two measurements given, this is usually for making a concentrated stock (the low amount) versus a regular stock (the larger amount).

dashi-pack

As for time, I usually put the dashi pack in a pot with the appropriate amount of water, bring it to a boil over high heat, turn down the heat to low and then let it steep for 5 minutes. Then just remove the bag and you have dashi.

If you plan to use it on a regular basis you can make a lot of it and store it in the fridge in clean water bottles for up to a week.

  • KD

    Thank you, Marc! The mystery of preparation decoded + now I know from the photos what I’m looking for.

  • http://www.ouichefnetwork.com Oui, Chef

    I just made dashi (from scratch) for the first time last week. It was delicious, but for simplicity I think I might try this dashi bag next time.

  • sophistroland

    I’m surprised that there isn’t kanji for dashi, as it is used so widely. Do you know if there is a reason for that? Fortunately, it makes it much easier to identify the packets if you are just reading the packets and don’t know a whole lot of kanji.

    • http://norecipes.com Marc Matsumoto

      There is kanji for dashi “出汁” but a lot of times it’s just written in hiragana. Don’t ask me why:-)

  • JaneM

    Doesn’t Hime Brand also make the dashi packets? It is a brand of Japanese products that I am most familiar with.

    • http://norecipes.com Marc Matsumoto

      Hi Jane, there are probably hundreds of brands that make dashi packs. The ones pictured are just a few I’ve seen and definitely don’t represent every one. As for Hime Brand, I’m pretty sure that’s a US brand that rebrands Japanese products (not that that’s a bad thing).

  • KD

    Of course the packets I bought at my local (Nijiya) store here in Mountain View had the packets in ounces w/no directions for prep. But I just figured based on your info you provided & googled some measurement comparions; I’d put in 16 oz of water. Turned out perfect. Hawaiian saimin!

    Say, Marc — what about Hawaiian saimin Matsumoto style? Ono!

    • http://norecipes.com Marc Matsumoto

      Glad to hear it all worked out. I need to get myself back out to Hawaii and give saimin a try! Yep, I’ve never had it before.

      • KD

        8-O Honto! Dakine land of fusion no recipe cooking imho. The fact that I’m from there means no bias on my part. ;-)
        I think PBS should sponsor a month long culinary research trip for the wanderingcook in Hawaii.

        • http://norecipes.com Marc Matsumoto

          Hahaha, that would be awesome.

  • Pingback: Oyakodon Recipe

  • Pingback: Yopparai (a Sake Bar and restaurant) | Not Just Vegetarian

  • Pingback: How to Make Miso Soup | Fresh Tastes Blog | PBS Food

  • Pingback: Soba Salad Recipe | Fresh Tastes Blog | PBS Food

  • Pingback: Dashi Recipe

  • Pingback: Making Dashi From Scratch « Food Blok

  • Pingback: Dashi (Japanese Soup Stock) | Oh So Yummy

  • Pingback: Recipes East » Making Dashi From Scratch

Welcome!

I'm Marc, and I want to teach you some basic techniques and give you the confidence and inspiration so that you can cook without recipes too!

How to Poach an Egg
Masa Harina
Wallpaper Wednesday: Gyeongbuk Gong in Fall, Seoul
Black Braised Pork Belly (video)
Corn with Bacon Vinaigrette
Tonjiru
Ramp Chutney
Asian Shrimp Cocktail