How to Make Japanese DASHI Broth Easily: Fish & Kelp Soup Stock

Boil water, add 2 ingredients and let it sit. Anybody can make a healthy Japanese traditional soup stock “Dashi” at home! Here are all details that will help you.

Table of Contents

What is Dashi?

The word “Dashi(だし, 出汁)” means “extract”,”broth” or “soup stock” in Japanese. The soup stock used for Japanese Foods are mainly taken from Niboshi(にぼし,煮干,small dried sardines), Katsuo(かつお, 鰹, bonito), Kombu(こんぶ, 昆布, kelp) or Hoshi-Shiitake(ほししいたけ,干し椎茸, dried shiitake mushroom), but we often see that any of these soup stocks are collectively called as “Dashi” outside of Japan.

There are many ways to make soup stock and any method is OK as long as the extract is out, so I will show you my favorite way that is an easy to get strong flavor out from the ingredients.

For anyone who doesn’t have time to make Dashi from scratch, you can always buy instant Dashi products. Just add hot water and done. But keep in mind the instant products contain less nutrition, more sodium and chemicals.

Instant Dashi Products

Instant Dashi Powder(Left: Bonito Broth, Right: Kelp Broth)

Ingredients for Rich Japanese Broth

Japanese Dashi Ingredients

In this page, you’ll learn an easy way to make Niboshi and Kombu Broth(fish and kelp broth).

  • 1 to 5 Niboshi(にぼし,煮干,small dried sardines)
  • 1 inch(3 to 4 sq. inches) Dried Kombu(こんぶ, 昆布, kelp)
  • 2/3 cup(160ml) Water

How to Find Good Niboshi (small dried sardines)

Niboshi

I bet you can find from very small 1.5″ dried sardines to big 3″ dried sardines at markets. Bigger ones are more expensive but preparation will be easier. Anyway, the quality is more important than size. So, pick nice silver ones. Yellower ones tend to be lower quality.

How to Find Good Kombu (dried kelp)

Japanese Kelp

First things first, I always recommend using any “Product of Japan” (products made in Japan) whenever available, in order to to make authentic Japanese broth. There 4 kinds of Japanese kelp and they taste a little different, but we will not refine the details here.

  • Ma-Kombu 真昆布
    It tastes delicate and clear.
  • Rausu-Kombu 羅臼昆布
    It tastes rich and strong.
  • Rishiri-Kombu 利尻昆布
    It tastes rich and clear.
  • Hidaka-Kombu 日高昆布
    It tastes poor compared to the other 3 kelps above.

How to Make Japanese Dashi Broth

With this technique, you can make Niboshi Broth(Fish Broth), Kombu Broth(Kelp Broth) or Niboshi’n’ Kombu Broth(Fish and Kelp Broth)!

Step 1: Prepare Ingredients

Take off the head and gutts from dried sardines, then snip it half if you want. Clean the dried kelp a little with a dry cloth and cut as much you need with scissors.

Prepare Niboshi for Dashi

Prepare Kombu for Dashi

Important Tip

The white powder on the surface of dried kelp is a kind of Glutamic acid which is a umami component, so you don’t have to clean that.

Step 2: Boil Water and Add Ingredients

Add Ingredients

Boil water and turn off the heat. Then, add prepared fish pieces and kelp.

Step 3: Let it Sit

let it sit

Close the lid and leave it for at least 15 minutes.(I usually wait for 30 minutes, while I cook other dishes.)

Step 4: Remove Fish and Kelp

Remove all pieces of fish and kelp from the water. If you have a little skimmer, this process is very easy.

skimmers

If you want to eat the ingredients that you pulled up from the water, divide fish and kelp then freeze them until you have enough to make a side dish. They still contain a lot of nutrients.

dashi-gara

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