Chef Yamada's "1.5" All-Purpose Dashi

Chef Yamada's "1.5" All-Purpose Dashi

Learn how to prepare iten goban dashi, a versatile version of kombu-katsuobushi dashi, taught by Chef Isao Yamada. This straightforward technique falls between the delicate taste of ichiban and the powerful taste of niban, making it perfect for various Japanese dishes.

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.)