Chef Yamada's "1.5" All-Purpose Dashi

Chef Yamada's "1.5" All-Purpose Dashi


When Chef Isao Yamada recently returned to my place for another cooking session, one of the first questions I asked him was prompted by a reader's comment asking for a method for an all-purpose version of kombu-katsuobushi dashi, the fundamental Japanese stock. Back in February, Yamada-san taught me the classic technique for preparing ichiban and niban dashi. But what about a versatile dashi a home cook can prepare, without going through the two-step ichiban/niban process? What Yamada-san suggested was a dashi in between the delicate taste of the ichiban, and the powerful taste of the niban, what he called iten goban dashi -- or, "one and a half dashi." The technique is very straightforward. I've been using this dashi since Yamada-san taught it to me for everything from miso soup to nimono; it's perfect. Here's how you prepare it:

4 cups of water
1 piece of kombu, about 6 inches long
2 handfuls of katsuobushi (this estimation works)

Heat the kombu and water in a saucepan over medium heat until it just about boils (you'll see tiny bubbles along the bottom of the pan). Remove the kombu and bring the liquid to a boil. Boil for about 10 to 20 seconds and remove any scum that rises to the surface (impurities from the kombu). Keep boiling and drop in the katsuobushi. Boil for 1 minute, then remove the saucepan from the heat. Let the katsuobushi steep for 5 to 10 minutes, depending on how potent you want the dashi (test to find your sweet spot; I like 10 minutes for something like miso soup). Strain through a cheesecloth and you have your dashi.

(As always, my deepest appreciation and thanks to Yamada-san.)

Posted by Harris Salat in Dashi | Permalink | Comments (11) | Email | Print

Comments (11)

Yes - I am making dashi very often these days. It is easy and the flavor is delicious. I am experimenting with ways to have some on hand when you don't have time to make it or you are out of katsuboshi. So my next batch is going into ice cube trays and 1 cup ziploc bags and then into the freezer. I want to see if this is preferable to using the dashi packs, which are fairly high quality.

On my last trip to Japan in January, I did an unscientific survey of all my Japanese female friends and asked do if they made dashi from scratch? "On New Year's," said one. If I was in their homes they opened up the cabinet and showed me the variety of ready-made good dashi available. I don't want to overstate the results so I will report that 99% do not make dashi from scratch. It isn't that they never do, just almost never.

Japanese cookbooks in Japanese even use dashi powder on the ingredient list.

As I am presently working on a Japanese cookbook, I need to be able to convince an American public, that is interested in Japanese cuisine, that it is worth the effort to learn how to make it. Maybe not all the time, but the flavor is pure and you can be certain there are no additives. Probably one of the easiest of all stocks around.

I would be very interested in hearing your and others thoughts on this.

no soaking of the kombu necessary?
you can, say for 30 minutes before heating the water, to tease out more umami, but for a quick, all-purpose dashi, just heating the water without soaking will give you loads of flavor -- H
I don't use dashi all the time, but when I do, I make bunch and freeze them. I have a question. How long is it good to keep them in freezer? Is it okay to keep the dashi in freezer more than a month? hiroko
hi, i think that should be okay, i'll find out exactly and add a comment - H
The cheesecloth straining is to pull out *all* particulate matter, right? Straining through a very fine strainer would be all right, wouldn't it?
I would like to see these dashi-packs you use, Harris (please?? :-)). You wrote, you use some like tea bags, with everything inside, but it isn’t dashi powder. Where do you buy these? I would like to order some. Right now I’m testing available dashi powders, my opinion riken dashi is nice, I also discovered vegan instant kombu-shiitake dashi from Muso, this is great too. Katsuo flakes are very expensive in Germany, so dashi cooking is a kind of luxury. In my opinion, dashi is fantastic stuff and worth the small effort to cook it fresh, at least sometimes.
I tried the 1.5 dashi recipe last night and it was fantastic. Umami-rich and SO easy to make. I used mixed flakes from Uneno in addition to kombu and used the dashi as a base for a veggie nabe of brussel sprouts, daikon and kabocha. Served the nabe with rice, nori and umeboshi that I picked up in Oita. Super-tasty. Thanks again for the dashi 1.5 recipe. It saves on time without skimping on flavor!
This looks very yummy and so easy. thanks for the recipe!
During my exploration of my local japanese market, I found that kombu is sold in a variety of different forms. Some are flattened, at least 2-3 inches across and some are scrunched together. This recipe calls for 6 inches of kombu, but how long across? Does it matter? I have a feeling that these different types of kombu may vary in their flavor intensity. Any comments would be great. Thanks Harris.
Hi Christopher. Thanks for your comment. I've tackled this myself because there are a number of different kinds and grade of kombu. The 6 inches across instruction was for the kombu typically found in Japanese markets in the USA, dashi kombu. Pick up the book "Dashi & Umami" for a primer on kombu in the back, and try some out. -- Harris

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