Dashi is a simple broth made from sea kelp and bonito flakes. It is used in classic dishes like miso soup — it's an essential staple of Japanese kitchens and one of the easiest soup stocks to make. Since it's so easy and quick, most Japanese cooks make it when they need it, rather than making a batch ahead and freezing it. Here is how to make it yourself. One can find powdered dashi mix in Asian grocery stores, but it's worth it to make your own from scratch. Trust us, it's ridiculously easy.
To make dashi, you'll need to find two ingredients: kombu, which is dried sea kelp, and shaved bonito, which is shaved fish flakes. You can find these at your local Japanese grocery, or online. Both ingredients come in convenient packages.
Basic Dashi Soup Stock
2 1/2 quarts water
1 3-inch square of kombu
3/4 cup shaved bonito
Bring the water to a boil. Once boiling, drop in the kombu. Bring the water back to a boil for a few minutes, and then remove the kombu. Add the bonito, and turn off the heat and let the stock cool. Strain the stock through a chinois or fine strainer and use in recipes. If you don't use all the stock, it can keep in the refrigerator for a few days, tightly covered.
And that's it!
Dashi can be used as a base for miso soup, noodle dishes, and other Japanese dishes.
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Recipe originally published July 28, 2008.
(Image: Kathryn Hill)