Dashi is a stock base which is a staple ingredient to many Japanese dishes. This includes soups, vegetable dishes, casserole and stew-like dishes. It is really very simple to make as long as you have the basic ingredients.
What’s in dashi?
Basic dashi can be made from kombu (seaweed) and katsuobushi (bonito/dried fish flakes). The seaweed is soaked in water, then brought to the boil slowly. It is removed once it starts to simmer. Add in the bonito flakes and simmer for some time. Strain and retain. Easy!
Using dashi in Japanese dishes
Dashi forms the basis of dishes such as miso soup, noodle and seafood soups. It can be used to poach vegetables or fish. Dashi can also be used as a dipping sauce for fresh noodles and tempura. In essence, dashi adds a savoury depth to dishes. It provides good umami to dishes. Umami describes the savoury flavour it brings to the dish which usually means not much more seasoning will be required.
Easiest stock ever
Given that most Japanese living quarters are small, their kitchens too are small. We are living in a studio with a two-burner stove which is probably the norm in many apartments. Dashi is one of those staples that is easy to make and easily stored (fridge/freezer) for use. Seaweed and dried fish flakes are easy to find with a whole aisle in the supermarket dedicated to a range of these products.
The challenge will be, can I find these things when I get home?