(Japanese basic soup stock)
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If you don't have the time nor inclination to make your own dashi, jars of instant stock base, called hon-dashi, are available in most supermarkets. Just add water! It's what most Japanese use these days, although the flavor will never be quite so fresh as homemade.
Makes about 1 quart
- Cold water -- 1 quart
- Kombu (dried kelp), rinsed briefly in cold water -- 1 piece, about 4 inches square
- Katsuobushi (bonito flakes) -- 1/3 cup
- Place the cold water and kombu in a saucepan and set aside to soak for 15 to 20 minutes.
- Set the saucepan over medium heat and bring water just to a boil. Add the katsuobushi and immediately remove from heat. Make sure not to boil the kombu for any period of time as it will turn slimy.
- Let to dashi set for 5 to 10 minutes, and then strain, pressing down to remove as much liquid and flavor as possible. Discard the solids. or use again to make niban dashi (see below). Use the dashi as directed in recipes.
- Ichiban Dashi (First stock): Stock made from the initial use of kombu and bonito flakes. Use for soups.
- Niban Dashi (Second stock): Stock made using kombu and katsuobushi strained from making an ichiban dashi. Niban dashi is for general use in dishes where it doesn't play a starring role, i.e. for simmering meats and vegetables.
- Konbu Dashi (Vegetarian stock): Soak the kombu for an hour and eliminate the bonito flakes. Bring just to a boil and strain. Use for tofu dishes.
- Hoshi-shiitake Dashi (Mushroom stock): Follow the same steps using 4 to 6 dried shiitake mushrooms instead of the kombu and katsuobushi. Let set 20 to 25 minutes before straining.
- Niboshi Dashi (Sardine stock): Remove head and entrails from 1/2 cup dried sardines (niboshi) and soak in 1 quart water for 30 minutes to an hour. Bring just to a boil and strain. Used for miso soup.
- Katsua Dashi: A liquid form of concentrated dashi stock. Add to fresh water to get a quick facsimile of homemade.
- Dashi-no-Moto: A pelletized dried version that is mixed with hot water to make a quick dashi stock. Can be bought in small bags to be steeped like tea in hot water.