Dashi Broth (Ichi-ban Dashi)

Posted by    |  March 9, 2010  |  Filed under: Ingredients, Recipes

I can’t help but giggle at the likely reaction most of you will have to the idea of this recipe even as I begin to write it.  This is going to seem like such a stretch for some of you.

“She wants me to make a broth out of seaweed- kelp, no less- and shaved flakes of dried fish!  Blech!  Are you kidding me?!”

“Seaweed and fish flakes?  Oh sure, I think I’ve got some of THAT in my pantry…”

Hear me out on this, though.

Ever had miso soup at a Japanese restaurant?  Well, guess what- you’ve had dashi.  Miso soup is just dashi broth with a bit of miso paste in it.  It is even faster and easier to make than chicken stock.  It smells amazing- like the breeze of Monterey Bay or Big Sur, California.  It is nutritious and calorie free.  The flavor has a briny, smoky, clean quality to it that is bewitching.

Its a surprisingly simple and rewarding proposition.  You can find the ingredients in the Asian section at Whole Foods or at any Asian grocery. The only trick to making this is having the presence of mind NOT to let it boil.  I’m always hearing you all say that you love a short ingredient list.  Could it get any shorter than this?

Finally, dashi should always be made and used within a few days.  It should not be made in large batches and frozen as the flavors will funk up.  This isn’t a big issue since it’s so darned easy.

2 ounces kombu (kelp)
9 cups cold water
1 cup loosely packed bonito flakes (also called katsuo-bushi) These come in bags with lots of small packages of bonito flakes.  The reason why they’re packaged like that is because their flavor spoils quickly once they’re opened.


  1. Place the kombu in the water in a suitably-sized pot.  Soak the kombu in the water for 10 minutes, then turn the water on to medium heat.
  2. As soon as small bubbles begin to break on the surface and edges of the pot, turn off the heat and remove the kombu.  BE CERTAIN NOT TO LET THE KOMBU BOIL.  You will ruin the flavor if you do so.
  1. Add the bonito flakes.  DO NOT STIR.  Allow the flakes to sink to the bottom of the pot on their own.
  2. When the flakes have all sunk- no more than 3-4 minutes- strain out the flakes using a fine mesh sieve, coffee filter, or cheesecloth.

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