There’s nothing like making homemade dashi stock from katsuobushi and konbu. It takes roughly 10 minutes of active prep and 20 minutes of active ‘cooking’. Compare that to the all day cooking of traditional beef and chicken stocks, and you can’t really complain that it ‘takes too long’. Because it doesn’t. Dashi is full of umami and has a wonderful, yet delicate aroma that Japanese cuisine so often embodies. Here’s how I make dashi from scratch.
What is Dashi stock（出汁)?
Dashi stock can be made from many different ingredients.
Some of the ingredients used vary depending on the region, but today we’ere going to talk about dashi made with konbu (昆布) and katsuobushi (鰹節).
Konbu is kelp that comes in a dried form.
The majority of konbu in Japan is produced in Hokkaido, the Northern part of Japan. Read more about konbu in this article.
Katsuobushi is also a dried, smoked, fermented skipjack tuna that generall comes in 4 sections.
The fish is cut the long way into quarters, so that is why you end up with different shapes of dried katsuobushi blocks. Read all about katsuobushi here.
These two ingredients are full of flavor and umami and are the base of the stock we will be making below.
Premade Dashi Stock
You can buy premade dashi liquid, powdered packs or the powder (だしの素 – dashi no moto ) to make your broth.
That is the quickest way to ‘make’ dashi if you’re short on time.
You’ll have your stock ready in less than 5 minutes.
However, if you have an extra 20-30 minutes to spare or plan ahead, you may want to try making it from scratch.
Like anything made from scratch, the flavor will be as good as it gets.
E.g. Comparing instant chicken broth to a broth that was made from a chicken carcass and fresh vegetables just won’t taste the same.
Now I know not everyone can tell the difference, and there’s nothing wrong with that.
I admit sometimes I can’t tell the difference.
So why bother?
Well, if you want a solid quality dashi, you’ll want to make it from scratch.
After all, your final dish will only be as good as the ingredients you put into it. Right?
So first we’ll talk about making ichiban dashi (一番だし), which is the first extraction from the konbu and katsuobushi.
Ichiban dashi (一番だし)
Ichiban dashi is the first extraction of konbu and katsuobushi. Literally translated, number one dashi.
It can be used to prepare dishes where you want to maintain the the flavor of konbu and katsuobushi.
The first extraction has a delicate and unique flavor on it’s own, so you don’t want to adulterate or muddy it by adding too many or the wrong kind of ingredients to the mix.
Hence, some of the uses for ichiban dashi include:
- suimono 吸い物 (soup)
- chawanmushi 茶碗蒸し (custard)
- ozoni お雑煮 (soup for New Year’s)
- mentsuyu めんつゆ (noodle soup base)
Niban dashi (二番だし)
The flavor of niban dashi is not as robust as ichiban dashi. Literally translated, number two dashi.
You can tell most of the goods were extracted on the first pass.
But there’s still some goodness in the katsuobushi and the konbu.
So that’s the purpose of doing a second extraction. You can also add oikatsuo (追いかつお) to add additional flavor to the broth.
Niban dashi isn’t as much about the flavor of the konbu and katsuobushi.
It’s more so about getting the umami from the katsuobushi and the konbu.
So, it has different uses.
- nimono 煮物 (simmered foods like stews, fish, meat, vegetables)
- misoshiru 味噌汁 (miso soup)
You don’t have to stick hard and fast to this ‘rule’.
Some people use ichiban dashi for nimono and misoshiru, while others think it’s an absolute waste of dashi flavor to use it in those dishes.
I don’t make suimono or chawanmushi that often, so the primary use of ichiban dashi for me, is mentsuyu.
Try making both and decide for yourself how you want to use it!
In the video below, I walk you through making both ichiban dashi and niban dashi.
Let me know what you think!