DASHI – Base of Japanese cooking


People often ask me how to make miso soup and continue “Just pour hot water onto miso paste”?

My answer is “No- not quite”
Missing DASHI (and Gu – which means some ingredients to add, such as vegetables)!

For those who have cooked Japanese food before, probably know how important DASHI is in Japanese cuisine.

Simple easy explanation of DASHI is… clear broth or soup stock from either fish, vegetable, seaweed or combination of these.

However,  there is a very interesting deep world of DASHI, and it expands Japanese food culture!!  DASHI is base of Japanese food. Base of Umami comes with beautiful aroma.

I was in Kumamoto/Japan, and visited Ms Hayashi, representative of Yamaichi – DASHI company (specialised Kezuribushi, shaved dried fish) and learnt more about DASHI.


Leaning about difference of each fish DASHI, the purpose of using specific DASHI. How you can blend these DASHI… so interesting.


Here is the today’s 4 type of DASHI. (There are heaps more options!!)


From the front pot, dried sardine flakes, dried mackerel flakes, dried bonito flakes and Rausu kombu. To make easy fish flake DASHI,  put some flakes in the pot and pour hot water. Not 100 degree, around 80-85 degree. Same as green tea, easy to remember. That’s all. How easy way to make DASHI.

Taste each DASHI, all different characteristic. Colour is different, aroma is different!  Taste of course different.


What amazed me was… when you blend these DASHI.
It is not 1+1=2. 1+1=4? 5? The flavour expand so much by blending. Chemical reaction works in really good way.  Amazing.


For example, Kombu-DASHI 1 : Bonito DASHI 2 (Ratio)
Very elegant and gentle. But much better than single DASHI. This DASHI is good for simple DASHI soup, thin noodle, with boiled vegetables, savoury egg pudding, with rice etc.

Add half mackerel DASHI (1/2) to the above (Kombu : Bonito = 1:2)
Ohh, more familier flavour. This is perfect for Soba noodle!!
When you make soba noodle soup with this DASHI (make it cold!), this DASHI is full body, but doesn’t disturb Soba-buckwheat aroma when you eat. So you can simply enjoy soba itself! What a perfect balance. Then, when you finish eating soba noodle, then you can pour Sobayu into your soup cup. Sobayu-is soba boiled water. Soba has many nutrition such as fiber, Vitamin B1, B2, protein, Rutin. They are water‐soluble so you can perfectly take all of soba’s nutrition by drinking Sobayu! Normally Sobayu is hot. When you pour this hot Sobayu into your cup, then all of sudden, you can smell beautiful aroma from noodle soup with DASHI!! DASHI’s aroma stands out when it is hot (with steam). So make sense. Enjoy soba’s aroma with soup’s umami first, then with Sobayu, you can enjoy DASHI’s aroma. I love this DASHI’s moderate attitude.

Back to DASHI.
Add quoter of sardine’s DASHI to above (Konbu 1 : Bonito 2 : Mackerel 1.5).
Well balanced strong DASHI now. Umami, Aroma, both strong.
This DASHI is perfect for Udon noodle. Also for hot pot, Oden, stew etc.


Shaving bonito block. To make these block of fish, takes 1 month – it is a fermentation process.  Yes, real bonito flakes are fermentation food. Although, there are not fermented bonito flake. Price will tell.

You can adjust the blade to make thin flakes to thick flakes.
Just for safety reason, wear the glove.

It’s pretty hard. Do you know that proper bonito block is the hardest food in the world? It is harder than crystals! Just little bit softer than diamond 🙂


And making fresh DAShi. Proper way!

What a beautiful colour! Clear-golden. The room is full of aroma!!  Happy aroma. This aroma makes people (at least Japanese) at rest, relaxed, satisfied and calm. This is the aroma we want to smell when we get home (Hopefully when we open the door!).

Taste comparison. 1- DASHi without squeezing flakes. 2- DASHI with squeezing flakes. I’ve never compared these but it really tastes different!
1 is very very elegant clear flavour. Taste fancy.
2 is…taste little bit sourness in the soup. A bit country flavour. Still yummy though.

They are different, but for home cooking, I think 2 is totally fine. You get more soup! (cost performance ◎)  1 is taste of fancy restaurant. So when you want to make something special, we can use 1.

At the super market, there are many instant powder to make soup (they call it Dashi), but it is just so different thing. Specially aroma. Natural flavour ummai and beautiful aroma makes our life so satisfying. DASHI is so important and so base of Japanese food. Why don’t we make real DASHI, not fake? Making Dashi is not difficult at all and I will guarantee it aroma makes you satisfying.


Thank you Ms. Hayashi to share interesting world of DASHI.

Dear vegetarian, I know many yummy vegetable DASHI, I would like to share them in the future post x


5 thoughts on “DASHI – Base of Japanese cooking

  1. Very nice article! ありがとうございます! We are about to write a post on dashi. We recently discussed the making and use of real katsuobushi. Very few flakes are actually fermented with A. glaucus anymore. ケン

  2. I love your site! I have been making dashi for years, and have a かつおばこshaving box and katsuo. You have inspired me to try these different combinations and comparisons. Also using local sea veg from here in the UK. ありがとございました 

  3. Thank you! I look forward to your vegetarian version. I make one with shiitake, kombu, a little jujube, and dried diakon (sometimes adding garlic). Other dried mushrooms as well–adding small amounts of turkey tail, reishi–sometimes using oyster mushrooms as a base instead of shiitake. The flavors are very good.

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