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What is Dashi, and How Do You Make It?

by Krystina Quintana

Dashi History

Dashi is an ancient Japanese soup stock with a history dating back to the Edo period. There was no written evidence of dashi stock until the 1800s, when it appeared in a cookbook. The history of this soup broth is not clear-cut, as there is no single event that you can pinpoint, noting where or when dashi broth was created. Instead, it seems that people were testing different ingredients, and after multiple tries, this delicious stock came about.

Dashi stock, umami liquid gold

What is Dashi?

Dashi is a stock made from two main ingredients: kombu, dehydrated pieces of seaweed, and katsuobushi (dried bonito flakes), and is used in many Japanese dishes. These ingredients are boiled with water and then strained, offering a delicious umami flavor. Not only does this stock work well with soups, but you can also use it as a base for dipping sauces. Many combine this stock with soy sauce powder, mirin (rice wine), and sugar for a sweet, salty, umami-flavored sauce in Japanese food.

Common Japanese dishes you can make with dashi include the following:

  • Miso soup

  • Shabu Shabu

  • Japanese noodle soups (e.g ramen, soba, udon)

  • Takoyaki

  • Tamagoyaki

Types of Dashi

There are multiple varieties of dashi, ranging from kombu dashi (only using seaweed) to shiitake, bonito, and katsuo dashi.  

Awase Dashi

Awase Dashi

Awase dashi is the most common type. The Japanese term “awase” means “to combine,” “to blend,” or “to join.” That is the basic principle of the awase dashi. It’s a delicious combination of the ingredients of two or more dashi, particularly kombu and katsuobushi.

This combo adds a lot more umami flavor to your cooking. The awase dashi tastes best when used with the following traditional dishes:

  • Datemaki

  • Oden

  • Miso soup

  • Nikujaga

  • Tamagoyaki

  • Chikuzenni

  • Oyakodon

Kombu Dashi

The Kombu dashi is the easiest to make. It’s also a popular stock in other Asian countries like Korea (haidai) and China (dasima).

The major ingredient in this type of dashi is the kombu or dried kelp. Because this is a seaweed, kombu dashi is a great option for vegans.

To get the best umami flavor from this dashi, I recommend that you try it with these dishes:

  • Clam soup

  • Kenchinjiru

  • Vegetable Ohitashi

  • Yudofu

  • Shabu Shabu

Shiitake Dashi

This is another fantastic vegan option. You can make yours by soaking dried shiitake mushrooms in a little water.

It has one of the most intense umami flavors among the types of dashi. The mushroom is also quite expensive. Hence, it may not be for everyone.

If you want to enjoy shiitake dashi, you should combine it with the following:

  • Miso soup (vegan version)

  • Ramen

  • Takikomi Gohan

  • Kenchinjiru

  • Kitsune Udon

  • Nabeyaki Udon

Bonito Dashi 

This is also known as katsuo dashi. As the name implies, it’s main ingredient is katsuobushi, dried fillets from bonito fish.

The katsuo dashi serves as a good source of inosinic acid, which enhances food flavor and aids digestion.

You can enjoy this type of dashi with foods like:

  •  Dashimaki Tamago

  • Simmered Kabocha

  • Chawanmushi

  • Vegetable Ohitashi

  • Okinawa Soba

All kind of dashi ingredients

Iriko Dashi

The iriko or niboshi dashi is a popular anchovy stock. Many consider it to be the best for miso soup, myself included. The ingredients are highly affordable and easy to find. It also tastes just as good as the other types of dashi when prepared correctly.

You can make it by boiling dried anchovies or baby sardines. The result is rich in calcium, minerals, and protein. Some people use dried sardine extract powder.

Here’s a list of my favorite dishes to pair with the iriko dashi:

  • Udon

  • Mentsuyu

  • Miso soup

  • Simmered Kabocha

Vegan Dashi

Vegan dashi is a modern recipe made by combining the processes of making shiitake dashi and kombu dashi (the two vegan options mentioned earlier). It offers a stronger umami flavor while maintaining plant-based ingredients. Many refer to this stock as the shojin dashi.

Check out these Japanese recipes you can make with vegan dashi:

  • Kabocha squash

  • Vegan miso soup

  • Taro

  • Koyadofu

  • Udon

How to Make Dashi at Home

There are a few ways you can make this delightful soup base at home. It’s an easy stock to make, with the most time-consuming method only taking about 20 minutes.

Below are my favorite methods for making homemade dashi in 2024.

Instant Dashi powder

Method 1: Instant Dashi Powder

One of the easiest ways to recreate this tasty stock is by using instant dashi powder. This is my favorite method because I can make dashi in a couple of minutes without sacrificing the umami flavor.

I recommend the Ajinomoto Hondashi Soup Stock. Hondashi is a popular powder that serves as the base for Japanese soups and other dishes.

Ajinomoto Hondashi Soup Stock

This amazing powder will help you create flavorful hondashi (real broth), the backbone of many Japanese soups and stews like miso soup, oden, shabu shabu, and ramen. It's even mixed into meals like takoyaki and okonomiyaki. But dashi isn't limited to Asian cuisine: you can add this savory powder to just about anything needing a punch of umami.  We can't wait to see what you cook up with instant dashi.

Learn more about what dashi is and how to cook with it in this article.

Common Allergens: Fish.

$5.49
2.11 oz

Now, back to making instant dashi with this powder.

Ingredients:

Directions:

  1. Pour 1-3 cups of water in a pan and boil

  2. When the water starts to boil, add your Ajinomoto Hondashi powder, 1 teaspoon for each cup of water

  3. Stir the mixture to your satisfaction

  4. Add your instant dashi to your favorite dish and enjoy.

You’ll still get the umami flavors that you’re craving. You can use these powders for flavoring in recipes like soup, noodles, rice, and even pasta; use less water according to the recipe.

Method 2: Making Dashi from Scratch

If you're feeling adventurous and want to try authentic Japanese cooking by making dashi from scratch, you can boil kombu and J-Basket Katsuobushi Bonito Flakes to make delicious awase dashi.

J-Basket Katsuobushi Bonito Flakes (10 servings)

Katsuobushi are flakes of bonito, or skipjack tuna that provide a hit of savory flavor on rice dishes, in simmered vegetables, and so much more. Katusobushi and kombu seaweed are often combined to make dashi, a stock used for all kinds of soups and sauces in Japan! Take an individually-sealed pack and sprinkle this smoky and not-too-fishy topping over okonomiyaki, rice, salads, or any other dish in need of an umami boost.

Read more about using katsuoboshi to make dashi in this article!

 

Common Allergens: Fish.

$4.99
0.71 oz

This method is more complex and time-consuming than the first one, but you should be done in less than 25 minutes.

Ingredients:

Directions:

  1. Add 0.25 liters of water into a pan

  2. Add 2g of dried kombu into the water and boil with medium heat

  3. Remove the pan from the heat and add 2g (1 serving) of J-Basket katsuobushi flakes

  4. Allow the mixture to sit for five minutes

  5. Strain the flavored dashi liquid into a bowl using a fine mesh, sieve, or strainer; this is your ichiban dashi (first dashi)

  6. You can discard the leftover kombu and katsuobushi flakes or use them to make niban dashi (second)

  7. Pour dashi into any dish of your choice.

Dashi premade soup mix

You have a homemade version of dashi stock ready to use for a variety of recipes. Feel free to store it in a refrigerator, but I wouldn’t recommend storing it for over a week.

Method 3: Premade Soup Mixes

For those who want to avoid dashi powder or don’t want to make a homemade version, you can use premade soup mixes like Nagatani Matsutake Osuimon. This packet is by far the most flavorful and affordable on the market.

Nagatanien Matsutake Osuimono Mushroom Clear Soup

Autumn is the season of mushrooms in Japan, and many love to enjoy a nice warming bowl of osuimono soup! Literally meaning “food you can sip", osuimono is a fragrant clear soup that’s made with mushrooms and dashi bonito broth. To enjoy this light, nutritious soup, just add boiling water - no foraging required!

Common Allergens: Fish, Wheat, Soy.

$2.99
0.4 oz

The premade soup method is the easiest way to make dashi at home. Here’s how to make it in about five minutes.

Ingredients:

Directions:

  1. Add 2 cups of water into a pan

  2. Add one packet of the Nagatani premade soup

  3. Boil over medium heat

  4. When the mixture starts to boil, switch to low heat and allow the mixture simmer for two minutes

  5. Add the flavored soup to your meal and enjoy.

You can use this method for ramen or udon noodles, and don't forget the toppings like soft-boiled eggs and pork belly for the complete Japanese cuisine experience!

Or, use Daisho Torinanban Nabe Soup to create a hot pot at home filled with veggies, tofu, chicken, and other inclusions.

Daisho Torinanban Nabe Hotpot Soup Base

During the cold winter season, it is common for Japanese folk to enjoy nabe, or “hot pot”. This ultimate umami soup is called “torinanban” and consists of a dashi and soy sauce base with the addition of bonito and kelp. Torinanban refers to a flavorful European-style chicken dish that originated in Miyazaki. So obviously, it is recommended that you enjoy poultry with the nabe soup, but anything you add is sure to come out a flavorful dream!

Common Allergens: Soy, Wheat, Fish.

$5.99
1.65 lb

My Favorite Ways to Enjoy Dashi

I love dashi because it can take nearly any Japanese dish and give it that undeniable umami flavor. I’ll reveal my favorite ways to use dashi. Feel free to try them out in your kitchen!

  1. Iridoufu

This tofu recipe has always been one of my favorites because of how easy it is to make. Dashi just takes it to a whole new level. Add dashi after cooking the vegetables and other ingredients. Let it simmer for a few minutes before adding your iridoufu. After that, cook the mixture until the heat has spread through the entire dish.

  1. Konnyaku

In my opinion, your Konnyaku dish is not complete without two key ingredients: Japanese curry powder and dashi! The powder complements the meal and the dashi gives it an explosive umami flavor.

  1. Vegan Ohitashi

This is one of my favorite dishes to prepare for my vegan friends. The ohitashi is not typically vegan, but you can make it so with the help of vegan dashi. Do this by blanching the vegetables quickly. This will preserve their freshness.

  1. Sauces

Of course, you can use dashi in sauces as well. Consider adding this soup base to any recipe for a deliciously meaty, umami flavor. Here’s a delicious way of incorporating this tasty base into other recipes: by making a rice bowl.

 

Interested in trying more Asian grocery items, including Japanese grocery foods? Avoid heading to Japanese grocery stores or Asian grocery stores by checking out Bokksu Market. Bokksu Market is an Asian grocery store where you can order groceries online, making it convenient to purchase your favorites and find new favorites simultaneously.

 


Author Bio

Krystina Quintana is a 29-year-old copywriter living outside of Chicago, IL. Her passion for Asian culture began at a young age as she learned to create Asian-inspired recipes like homemade sushi with her family. This interest in Asian culture continues today with time spent in the kitchen and copywriting pursuits. Krystina has worked with customers ranging from small businesses to food Youtubers with 70,000+ subscribers. With a passion for food and travel, she seeks to help businesses bring traffic to their page by writing blog posts that are engaging, informative, and fun to read.
What is Dashi, and How Do You Make It?

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