„The Art of Tastelessness“
Umami, the 5th sense of taste, is translated in German as tastiness or full-bodied. It is also the term that best describes the taste of Japanese dashi broth, because hardly any dish or product can even begin to compete with the umami flavours contained in dashi. This is why dashi forms the basis of various dishes and is used in many different ways in the Japanese cuisine. Dashi is not meant to be intrusive, but to complement and intensify the ingredients. In other words, it should not overpower the dish’s own flavour and, philosophically speaking, can be described as tasteless.
What exactly is dashi?
Dashi is a stock or broth that is considered an important ingredient in many dishes in the Japanese cuisine. It is usually made from kombu seaweed and bonito flakes. It owes its intense umami flavour to these two ingredients. However, there are also a vegetarian versions of the broth. The bonito flakes can be replaced with shiitake mushrooms or roasted soybeans, for example. Compared to other stocks, which are usually made by boiling meat, vegetables and herbs for hours, you don’t need a lot of ingredients or a lot of time with dashi, because dashi is ready to use after around 30 to 60 minutes. You can find out how to prepare your own dashi at home below and everything you need to do so in our shop.
How can dashi be used in the kitchen?
Dashi usually forms the basis, especially in the preparation of Japanese soups. For example, the broth is used in suimono, ramen or the popular miso soup. The unique aroma of dashi is also used as the basis for the broth in so-called “hot pots”. By the way, you can find out how to successfully integrate dashi in the kitchen in our course on “Sushi Tokyo Style“, because what would sushi and Japanese cuisine be without a portion of warming miso soup?
Besides soups, dashi is also excellent for seasoning. For example, you can add a little dashi to homemade sauces to give them a particularly powerful umami flavour. ConFusion secret tip: You can even add a small amount of dashi when cooking rice for that certain special something.
Finished dashi can be stored in the refrigerator for several days. Alternatively, it can be stored in the freezer for several months. However, it is not necessary to build up a very large stock. The ingredients needed for dashi, such as kombu seaweed and bonito flakes, are dried and therefore have a virtually eternal shelf life, so they are always ready to hand at home.
Dashi can be used in many ways in the kitchen and is also suitable as an alternative to stocks in the European cuisine. The simplest use is to add a miso paste to the dashi and the miso soup is ready. In addition to the most popular ingredients such as tofu, wakame seaweed and spring onions, fish, prawns or mushrooms can also be added
For a vegetarian alternative, dried shiitake mushrooms can be used instead of bonito flakes.