Japanese ingredients for your healthy life

Dashi products

Dash in get some

Homemade dashi is not very popular these days and granulated or liquid instant dashi brands have been replaced in households in favour of the homemade variety. Instant dashi has a stronger and less subtle flavour,
Despite dashi being very simply to make, these days it is more commonly purchased in granulated powder form and mixed with water to replicate this simple homemade dish that became popular in Japan around the 1800s.

 

To those who are unfamiliar with dashi, let me solve your uncertainty. Dashi simply means eStockf in Japanese, yep, thatfs all. And it is even easier to make than western style stocks.

 

Dashi is a class of soup and cooking stock used as ingredients in Japanese cuisine. Dashi forms the base for miso soup, clear broth, noodle broth and many kinds of simmering liquid.
The most common form of dashi is a simple broth or fish stock which is made by heating water that contains kombu (this is edible kelp) and kezurikatsuo to near boiling, you then strain the resultant liquid. Today, there are many brands and many types.

 

Many brands of dashi are commonly found in Asian supermarkets and grocers; they can also be purchased online from large auction sites such as Amazon and eBay.
Some of the common brands of dashi powders are:

  • Maruachi Muramatz Katsuo Dashi Base (This is a popular powdered one as it does not contain any MSG)
  • Welpac Dashi Kombu
  • Ajinomoto Hon Dashi (this one can be purchased in liquid or powder format)

 

So many people these days favour the MSG free dashi base brands.
To help you understand the MSG component here is a quick explanation of why MSG can be a concern to some people. MSG is the sodium salt of glutamic acid, one of the most abundant naturally occurring non-essential amino acids. It has been classified by the U.S Food and Drug Administration as generally recognised as safe. MSG is used to improve the overall taste of certain foods, adding MSG means lowering the salt that is put into certain foods, as we all know excessive salt is a bad thing that can lead to instant side effects or on very rare occurrences complications later in life. MSG is safe when eaten at customary levels, but you have to keep a watchful eye over it as studies have shown that excess consumption can lead to headaches, heart palpitations, breathing difficulties, nausea and vomiting. Some tend to avoid MSG rich foods because they are sensitive to the additive, others donft see any side effects. Monitored and ingested in small doses MSG is categorised as perfectly safe, hence the reason for why big brands often use it.

 

With the amount that people use Dashi in Japan, if using a powdered version it is best to keep a mindful eye over just how much you are consuming, if you have an MSG intolerance it is absolutely best that you make yours at home. Like anything in history, tracing steps right back to when the product was first invented is the way to go. Back hundreds of years ago when dashi was first made and packaged products werenft available there were no big brands available and you wouldnft have found MSG in them, so why ingest it now. Take a lesson from your ancestors and get in the kitchen and make it!

 

The main ingredients to making dashi are kombu which is a form of kelp that is harvested and dried in the sun. Itfs really good for us because it has lots of good things like protein, vitamins and minerals, katsuobushi which is dried bonito flakes (bonito is a fish similar to tuna) and niboshi which is baby sardines and dried shiitake mushrooms. the only other thing youfll need is water.

 

To make this fine dish all youfll need to do it soak the kombu in water for a long time to step out as much of the flavour as you can from the kombu. After this process, you just need to put this is a pot and put this on the stove and removed it just before the water starts to boil. At that point, take it off, add in some katsuobushi and let everything sit. The great thing about this is that the ingredients do all the work.

 

Next, put the stock through a strainer to leave you with just the stock, make sure to put it into a clean container. At this stage you have prepared stock and it is now ready to be used in cooking! It really is not that difficult as you can see. Even the big brands make their dashi in a very similar way. The key is to use good ingredients, if you do, you can make a good dashi.

 

Try a few different combinations out using the mushrooms and dried fish, you can use one, two or all three of these ingredients to get various flavour combinations for your stock, and you will soon work out which one is your favourite.

 

Once you have made, or purchased your brand of dashi, here are a couple of beautiful and interesting ways you can use it.

 

You can make the classic miso soup, udon noodles with dashi, steamed vegetables with dashi or use it as a base for any noodle soup. You can use it as a liquid to simmer things in or perhaps boil some turnips in it.

 

Its most commonly used form is in Miso, noodle or clear soups. Miso Soup is a traditional Japanese soup using the dashi stock, and softened miso paste is mixed, on top of this many ingredients are added to the recipe depending on regional and seasonal recipes, and of course your own personal preference.

 

So, whether you are making dashi, or using one of the many brands available for purchase itfs clear that you should try incorporating it into your next attempt at Japanese cooking. What is so brilliant about Japanese cooking is that it is a combination of simplicity in presentation and a depth of flavour to bring out the best in fresh produce. Many of the recipes with the depth in flavour are thanks to great condiments such as Japanese Mayonnaise, Wasabi or dashi. There are so many big brands to try from and find your favourite!

 

So what are you waiting for? Dash(i) (see what we did there) to the local Asian grocer and get some!