DASHI – Base of Japanese cooking

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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.

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

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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 🙂

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And making fresh DAShi. Proper way!
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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.

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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

Garlic soy

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This is so useful thing to have in your kitchen for your cooking.
So simple. So yummy. Amazing aroma.

What you need is only Soy sauce (or Tamari) and garlic cloves!
Peel garlic skin and drop peeled garlic cloves into the soy pot.

That’s it.
Then pure Soy sauce become garlic soy.

Int the soy pot, garlic clove become like this – very black after while.
You can use this clove for your cooking as well. (sumer yummy)
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If you smell this garlic soy, I’m sure you will come up with lot’s of ideas what you want to cook with it. Really beautiful aroma. It stimulates your appetite.

For example, this is what I ate today.
I wanted to make something very quick but yummy. Kind of healthy but not too light.

Umeboshi pasta with garlic soy
Ingredients
Pasta (wholemeal)
Umeboshi
Tuna
and Garlic soy

I use genuine Umeboshi, which I made with my mom.
Wanna know more? about Umeboshi making? ->Making Umeboshi.
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While you are cooking pasta, make Umeboshi into paste using knife.
Mix with cooked pasta and add tuna.
Pour garlic soy at the end and mix. That’s it!

If you have greens from the garden, nice to add.
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Also, if you have seaweed in your pantry, cut them thin and use them as a garnish.
It makes this pasta all of sudden Japanese flavour.
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Hope you enjoy garlic soy x

Soy sauce making workshop

Soy sauce making workshop
I am very happy to run this Soy sauce making workshop this winter!!

May 28, 2017 (Sun) 10:00-12:30 / 14:00-16:30
June 3, 2017   (Sat)  10:00-12:30 / 14:00-16:30

I believe making (fermenting) these important condiment at home is a wonderful thing and very happy to share these technique with you!
In this workshop, we will use all Australian organic ingredients and start brewing your OWN soy sauce in Japanese traditional way.

It will be a exciting project for you! You will get high quality soy sauce which you can never purchase from supermarket!!

Just a allergic information. We use SPELT grain in this workshop.
For those who have trouble having spelt, please wait for Tamari workshop, which might been run in the future x

Please book through Contact page and let me know your requested date and time.
Looking forward to seeing you soon xx

Wooden barrel for Miso

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This is my lovely wooden barrel.
Beautifully made by artisan.
The joint is amazingly made.

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This miso (Brown rice miso) is just made (mixed), so the colour is light.
Over a year in this wooden barrel, it ferments nice and gently.

Surface is sealed with this bees wax wrap.

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After that, all we do is wait for the Miso to mature in this wooden barrel.

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I just love this handsome look.

Miso making workshop this weekend

Getting colder, miso making weekend is coming!
This weekend, April 29 and 30, 2017, miso making workshop will be held in Melbourne-Preston.

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It’s 2.5 hours workshop, you will make YOUR OWN miso by yourself!! There are 4 sessions over the 2 days, so please chose your convenient day & time, and let me know by “Contact form”.

Today’s brekkie

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All of sudden, it became cold in Melbourne. And all of sudden, I felt that I wanted to do something “Right for me”, which is to make proper Japanese brekkie.

Under this weather, I prefer cooked veggie. In Japanese cooking, we often use “simmer” technic、 because it is believed that raw veggie (salad etc) will make your body and guts cold, which we want to avoid. Dried food is perfect for simmer food, because we can get Dashi (Yummy stock) from dried food when we soak them in the water!

We often says “Eat 30 different things a day” and it is not so difficult when you eat Japanese food. For example, it’s already 27 from this morning.

Rice
Bi-Dynamic short grain rice
Amaranth
Kanten
Black sesame seed

Miso soup
Dried taro stem (From dad’s garden)
Dried Dikon soaked water (as Dashi)
Dried little fish (as Dashi)
Home made 1 year miso (Soy, Rice koji, Sea salt)

This dried taro stem, perfect preserved food!! I wasn’t fan of this when I was kid, but now like them so much.


After dried, cut in small pieces, and use for soup, simmering…etc all through the year.

Pumpkin skin Kinpira
This is basically the off-skin when I made simmered pumpkin.
Waste food recycle. Every time I cook pumpkin, I make this, just extra 2-3 min work and get another little dish.

Pumpkin skin
Soy sauce
Chilli
Buckwheat grain as garnish.

Simmered Pumpkin
Pumpkin (from our garden!!)
Shio koji
This is cooked with Shio koji, but check how to cook here. It’s sweeter version.

Simmered Kiriboshi Daikon 
Check how to make here

Kiriboshi Daikon (Dad’s Dried Daikon)
Spring onion from the garden
Fu/Seitan
Goji berries (I wanted to use carrot, but there is none, so use Goji berries to add some colour!)
Shiitake
Soy
Mirin

Pickles 1
Ginger pickled in Rice vinegar

Pickles 2
– Nuka (Rice bran) pickling
Cucumber (From the garden!)
Pink radish
Purple radish

I felt so right after having this meal.
I realised again, beauty of Japanese food is not used “oil” so much, but still very yummy.