Little Guy, Big Kitchen

A Little Guy Woking in His Big Kitchen

Dashi Stock for Miso Soup

Dashi is a basic stock used in Japanese cooking which is made by boiling dried kelp (seaweed) and dried bonito (fish). Instant dashi granules are sold in conveniently-sized jars or packets and vary in strength.

Add more dashi to your soup if you want a stronger stock. You can use yellow, white or red miso paste for this soup. Yellow miso is sweet and creamy, red miso is stronger and saltier.

There are basic ingredients for making dashi. One is shaved bonito (fish) flakes, called katsuo bushi. You can also buy a whole, dried bonito and shave it on something that looks like a plane, but this is too much work for me. I just use the preshaved bonito flakes that come in big bags.

Dried kombu seaweed is the second ingredient. This is a leathery seaweed, that comes in large leaves. What I do is to cut up the leaves with scissors into approximately 4 inch lengths, pack them well in multiple layers of plastic bags and store them in the freezer.

The third commonly used ngredient is dried sardines, called niboshi. This produces the most distinctively flavored stock. I rarely use niboshi myself, simply because it's rather hard to get a hold of good, non-rancid niboshi here in Switzerland. If you have some niboshi, sniff it. If it smells strange, your stock will taste strange too. Cats love niboshi, either dried or after they've been used for stock.

Usually, dashi is made of using bonito flakes and kombu. This is also called ichiban-dashi – first stock. Frugal housewives often make niban-dashi – second stock – by re-extracting more goodness out of the kombu and bonito flakes already used for ichiban-dashi. Niban-dashi is fine to use for stewed vegetables and the like.

Basic Recipe: Dashi stock

  • 1 4-inch (3-4 cm) piece of dried kombu
  • A good handful of bonito flakes
  • Cold water, from the tap if you have good local water, or use bottled

Soak the dried kombu piece in 3-4 cups of cold water for about 20 minutes. Bring the water to the boil, then add the handful of bonito flakes. Immediately switch off the heat and let it sit for at least 5 minutes. Strain through a sieve, pressing out all the goodness.

Makes 3-4 cups.

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June 2, 2006 - Posted by | Japanese

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