Dashi is the basic stock used in Japanese food, and the foundation for it. Dashi contains much "umami"(a savory taste), which is one of the five basic tastes (together with sweet, sour, bitter and salty).
Compared to stocks using meats and bones, which take hours to prepare, dashi can be prepared in just 5 to 10 minutes.
Though professional dashi can be easily prepared at home, Japanese who never use instant dashi, insisting on making their own dashi, are in the minority. You can both make professional dashi at home and use instant dashi.
If dashi is stored in the refrigerator, it will lose the flavor. So you should make it each time you need it.
Depending on dashi, the results of dishes will change. You sould be particular about dashi. Enjoy Japanese cuisine.

The representative dashi

  • Dashi of shaved dried bonito(katsuo-bushi)

    It is called "katsuo dashi" in Japanese. It is the most popular dashi, and used in most japanese dishes. And it is used both at home and at high-class japanese restaurants. There are three kinds of dashi, "ichiban dashi", "niban dashi" and "awase dashi" in it.
    Ichiban dashi means the first dashi. It is made by soaking shaved dried bonito(katsuo-bushi) in boiled water for a few minutes. It doesn't have much savory taste(umami), but it has a rich flavor. It is generally used for miso soup, osuimono, or noodles such as soba and udon.
    Niban dashi means the second dashi. It is made by simmering katsuo-bushi used in making ichiban dashi. It doesn't has much flavor, but it has much savory taste(umami). To compensate for lack of flavor, katsuo-bushi is often added in it. That is called "oigatsuo". Niban dashi is generally used for "nimono"(simmered dishes) or "nabe"(hotpot dishes).
    Awase dashi means mixed dashi. It is made by adding katsuo-bushi in dashi prepared from kombu(kelp). It has a great balance of katsuo-bushi and kombu. It is an all-around dashi, and widely used in dishes ranging from soup to simmered dishes.

  • Dashi of dried kelp(kombu)

    It is called "kombu dashi" or "kobu dashi" in Japanese. It is prepared by soaking kelp in water. There are also "ichiban dashi" and "niban dashi" in it. There are "hidaka kombu", "rishiri kombu", "rausu kombu" and "ma-kombu" in kombu for dashi. Hokkaido is very famous for kombu.
    kombu dashi has very refined flavor and taste(umami). It is necessarily used at traditional japanese restaurants. It is for dishes which treasure the flavor and tastes of ingredients, such as chawan-mushi, yu-doufu(hot tofu), osuimono and nabe dishes, etc. Dashi of just kombu does not go well with miso soup.
    Though it is used throughout Japan, it is used especially in Kansai region(western Japan). Kobu dashi is very important for udon soup in Kansai region.
    Kombu is often used to prepare dashi with katsuo-bushi.

  • Dashi of dried baby sadines(niboshi)

    Niboshi is called "iriko", too. Generally, niboshi(iriko) is made by drying simmered japanese anchovy called "katakuchi-iwashi". Nagasaki Prefecture is a main producing district of it.
    Niboshi(iriko) dashi is a homely and country taste. It is taken by soaking niboshi in water one night, or simmering it for about 10 minutes. In case of the latter, you have to get rid of the internal organs. It is usually used in miso soup and simmerd dishes.
    Niboshi can be eaten just as it is. It contains much calcium, and it is a quite healthy food.

  • Dashi of dried shiitake mushroom(hoshi shiitake)

    It has a unique and excellent flavor, and taken by soaking dried shiitake mushrooms in water for a few hours. Soaking dried shiitake mushrooms is not only for taking dashi, but also for eating them. Commomly, it is used together with other dashi such as katsuo dashi and konbu dashi. It is mainly used in simmered dishes, nabe dishes and noodles soup.

  • Dashi of dried flyng fish

    Flying fish is called "tobi-uo" or "ago" in Japanese. Dashi of dried flying fish is called "ago dashi". Dried flying fish is made by drying simmered flying fish.
    Ago dashi has a refined taste and flavor. It is used in various dishes ranging from miso soup to simmered dishes. Especially it goes well with noodles. It is mainly used in Kyushu region.

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