Many Japanese soups and noodle dishes require dashi to make their stock, and this makes Japanese cooking difficult for vegetarians (the common dashi type contains dried bonito fish flakes). However, you may find that this simple recipe is sufficient to provide great broth and stock flavours for your Japanese cooking adventures.
There are actually 5 types of dashi that are use in Japan and I have highlighted the vegetarian ones:
- Kombu Dashi – made from kombu
- Katsuo Dashi – made from dried bonito flakes
- Iriko Dashi – made from dried anchovies/sardines
- Shiitake Dashi – made from dried shiitake mushrooms
- Awase Dashi – made from a combination of all above or two (eg, kombu + shiitake)
In our main recipe below, Awase Dashi, we combine Kombu and Shiitake and add a little miso for a deeper flavour to give it a wider use. It can be used for noodle dishes, vegetarian ramen, steamed and simmered dishes, stir fries, soups, and vegetarian versions of Japanese dishes.
Read about the different types of Kombu here.
How to Make Awase Dashi | Vegetarian Japanese Stock
2 postcard-sized pieces of kombu – seaweed available from Asian grocery shops or online
3 dried shiitake mushrooms
1 l water
1 heaped tspn light miso paste
Soak the kombu and mushrooms in the water for at least 1 hour, then heat slowly in a saucepan over a low-moderate heat. Bring the water to almost a simmer, and then when the kombu begins to float, remove it.
Increase the heat and boil rapidly for 2 minutes and remove from the heat. Allow the liquid to cool a little, and stir in the miso. When it is cooler, remove the mushrooms (you can retain and use in another dish), and strain the stock.
It will store in the fridge for several days, or the stock can be frozen.
- Buy thick dried shiitaki mushrooms with deep white fissures on the cap for more flavour.
- Use cold water to soak dried shiitake mushrooms to slowly bring out the flavour from mushrooms – soaked overnight gives the best results.
Kombu Dashi can be made as above, without the shiitake.
Alternatively mix simmered kombu with equal amounts of light soy sauce and mirin.
Shiitaki Dashi can be made as above, without the kombu.
Alternatively mix simmered dried shiitake mushrooms with light soy sauce and mirin.