Autumn and winter are all about roots, apple cakes, lots and lots of tea and stocks. There is nothing better for cold, unpleasant weather than good, rich broth, especially one from roasted veggies. In cold months I always crave from umami taste. Deep, strong “fifth taste” can be easily find in mishoshiru. And good miso soup has to be made on a base of dashi!
Dashi is a Japanese broth, on which a lot of dishes are prepared. The most popular are of course misoshiru in which dashi is mixed with miso and served with fresh toppings. Dashi is mostly known for its fishy taste, thanks to the main ingredient- bonito flakes (kasuto). The second main ingredient is kombu, meaty, full of umami, sell in large sheets with white powder on it.
Presence of bonito seems to make dashi uneatable for vegetarians, but there is also a fish-free version based on kombu and shiitake mushrooms.
Despite of using only two ingredients to make this broth, preparation and proportions of ingredients vary. It all depends on what dominant taste we want. If you want to have stronger shiitake aroma, you just keep them loner in water before cooking. You can discard them, add kombu and cook, or you can leave them and cook along with kombu. You can add shiitake and kombu before cooking and leave them in cold water, or just start cooking right away. It’s worth to change proportions to find your own perfect taste.
It is important not not boil the dashi while kombu are still in it. If you boil kombu, they can add some unwanted tastes to the broth and give it gooey texture. However do not clean kombu out of white powder- it has the most of umami taste!
You can use shiitake and kombu from the first cooking to prepare the milder one- niban dashi.
You don’t have to make misoshiru, you can simply add few ingredients like soba, wakame, seseame seeds and enjoy good, deep taste of dashi.
Basic recipe for dashi is from Vedge cookbook, but it’s worth to modify it you own way.
fro about 1,4 liter dashi
1 cup dried shiitake mushrooms
1,9 liter water
1/8 cup tamari (optional)
1. Soak shiitake or shiitake and kombu in the cold water 30-60 minutes before cooking (if we want more intense dashi).
2. In large pot cook all ingredients until broth starts to simmer. Low the heat and cook for another 2o minutes. Do nor bring it ta a boil while kombu are inside.
3. Strain. You can store it in refrigerator for 4 days.