What Is Dashi? A Quick Guide To Japanese Soup Stock

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What is dashi? Make your soups truly special with this delicious Japanese soup stock. Learn about their unique ingredients and how to make them in 4 different ways!

dashi ingredients and kombudashi in a saucepan.

Dashi is the foundation of all Japanese cooking, lending flavor and deliciousness with a few simple ingredients. This soup base adds enchanting depth to various classic dishes, from miso soups to nimono (simmered dishes).

In this guide, learn about the different kinds of dashi plus the ingredients and uses each one offers.

    This recipe is for you if:
  • You love Japanese cousine.
  • You want to know about Japanese dashi.
  • You are looking for how to make dashi.

Let’s get started!

What is Dashi?

dashi ingredients illustration.

Dashi is a simple soup stock with a key Japanese flavor that brings a delightful umami taste. From hearty soups and stews to delicious noodles – this wonderful broth adds an extra layer of flavor that will make any dish more delicious.

Making dashi involves only a short soak in water or a brief cooking time as we use aged dried ingredients, unlike other types of soup stocks that need to simmer for hours.

Dashi is commonly made by mixing two or more savory elements. The standard version is Awase dashi, which combines kelp seaweed and bonito flakes.

What Does Dashi Taste Like?

Traditional Japanese dashi is savory and flavorful with an inviting aroma, all thanks to umami. Umami is the fifth taste found in many Japanese ingredients (such as soy sauce and miso paste), bringing an extra flavor depth.

Dashi Ingredients

dashi ingredients.

In Japanese cooking, the key ingredients for dashi broth are Katsuobushi, Kombu, Dried shiitake mushroom, and Niboshi. They are used alone or combined (See homemade dashi recipes at Types of dashi).

  • Katsuobushi – Bonito flakes made by boiling and drying bonito fish meat. It’s the umami-packed ingredient that is also used for toppings and garnishes.
  • Kombu seaweed – Edible kelp. It adds an extra layer of flavor to dishes with its umami taste.
  • Dried Shiitake mushrooms – Fresh shiitake mushrooms are nutritious vegetables, but drying them makes them even more nutrient-dense and aromatic.
  • Niboshi – Dried fish. Various kinds of fish are used for making niboshi, but sardine niboshi is the most common. It adds a unique flavor and intense aroma of fish.

Ways to Use Dashi

4 Japanese classic dishes.

Dashi isn’t just for soups and stews — Try using it as you would with any other stock. It is a great ingredient to add savory flavor to noodle dishes, rice dishes, and many more.

Types of Dashi Stock and How to Make Them

3 types of dashi in a glass jar.

There are different types of dashi used in Japanese dishes as follows.

  1. Awase Dashi
  2. Kombu Dashi
  3. Niboshi Dashi
  4. Shiitake Kombu Dashi

Let me go through the unique characteristics of each dashi and how to prepare them.

1. Awase Dashi

awase dashi.

Awase dashi (Awase means “combine” in Japanese) is made from two ingredients, katsuobushi and kombu. Combining both ingredients creates a synergistic effect and brings a rich flavor. It’s the most common type of dashi used in various classic Japanese dishes.

When making dashi, you will have leftover kombu and katsuobushi. You can reuse them and make niban dashi (2nd-time broth). The flavor is lighter than Ichiban dashi (1st-time broth) but is perfect for dishes with a stronger taste.

2. Kombu Dashi (Vegan)

kombu dashi.

Kombu dashi tastes milder than other dashi but adds a deep umami flavor to enhance any dish. Its flavor varies based on which type of kombu is used.

3. Niboshi Dashi (Iriko Dashi)

niboshi dashi.

Niboshi dashi has a rich flavor and intense aroma of fish and goes well with miso soups and vegetable dishes. It’s also a good source of calcium. This is my favorite for making miso soup.

4. Shiitake Kombu Dashi (Vegan)

shiitake kombu dashi.

Shiitake kombu dashi is a vegan dashi and is used for traditional Shojin ryori (traditional Buddhist cooking). This dashi has mild umami and aroma.

Easy Way To Make Dashi

Making your own dashi gives you an authentic flavor and feeling, but if you don’t have time to make it, here are easy options!

Instant Dashi powder (Dashi granules)

3 types of Japanese dashi powder.
Dashi powder – 3 variations

If you want something quick and easy, these instant dashi powders help you. Add a couple of teaspoons to a saucepan with water. They are easy to dissolve.

Choose the one that suits your preference, but if unsure, pick katsuobushi dashi, which is standard for miso soup.

The variations:

  • Kombu dashi powder – made from Kombu seaweed. It’s vegan. The flavor is mild.
  • Katsuobushi dashi powder – made from katsuobushi (bonito flakes), kombu, and shiitake mushroom. This brings a well-balanced umami flavor.
  • Niboshi dashi powder – made from niboshi (baby anchovy), katsuobushi (bonito flakes), kombu, and shiitake mushroom. It has a more intense flavor than the other two.

Dashi packets

dashi packets.

Another option is a dashi packet, which is easy to use and gives authentic flavor.

Grounded dashi ingredients are in the packet. This one contains bonito, sardines, dried shiitake mushrooms, and kombu.

How to make dashi with the packet is simple. When you make miso soup, add one packet to a saucepan with water and cook. Then take it out before adding miso paste.

Where to Buy Japanese Ingredients

If you live in the US, you can find Japanese ingredients in the list below.

  • Japanese market: Mitsuwa MarketplaceMarukai
  • Asian market
  • Whole Foods Market
  • Health food stores
  • Online stores: Instacart, Walmart, Amazon

FAQ

What is dashi made of?

Japanese dashi is made of these ingredients: Katsuobushi, Kombu, Dried shiitake mushroom, and Niboshi. They are used alone or combined.

What does dashi taste like?

Traditional Japanese dashi is savory and flavorful with an inviting aroma, all thanks to umami. Umami is the fifth taste found in many Japanese ingredients (such as soy sauce and miso paste), which brings an extra depth of flavor.

Can you buy dashi?

Yes, you can buy instant dashi powder (dashi granules) or dashi packets at Japanese grocery stores, Asian grocery stores, or online stores.

Is dashi the same as ramen broth?

It depends. Ramen soup is generally made from chicken broth, but some ramen shops use dried sardines or kombu seaweed.

Thanks For Stopping By!

kake udon (udon noodle soup) in a bowl with chopsticks.

Thank you for taking the time to read my blog♡. If you’ve tried this recipe (or any other recipe on the blog), please give it a star rating below!

Also, feel free to leave comments if you have any questions. I love hearing from you!

Chef JA Cooks is a Japanese food blog that shares simple and healthy Japanese home cooking recipes, including vegan and vegetarian. From traditional Japanese recipes to modern recipes with step-by-step instructions.

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Kombu dashi in a jar.

4 Japanese Dashi Recipes to Try at Home

5 from 3 votes
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Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 10 minutes
Total: 20 minutes
Servings: 2 servings
Author: Juri Austin
Make your soups truly special with Dashi, the delicious and versatile Japanese soup stock. Discover different flavors of dashi, learn about their unique ingredients, and how to make them in 4 different ways!

Ingredients

  • Katsuobushi
  • Kombu
  • Dried shiitake mushrooms
  • Niboshi

Instructions

Video

Notes

 
    •  
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: Japanese
Keyword: udon noodles
Did You Make this recipe?Please Leave a star rating!

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