Kombu and katsuo Ichiban Dashi
The way of making dashi/Japanese broth is roughly divided into two ways, cooking the ingredients to bring out the flavor or simply using instant dashi products. If you would like to use instant products, please read the instructions carefully and follow them. High-quality products are better but of course, it costs more than using mediocre products. You should use them properly depending on what you make.
Nowadays, even instant dashi products taste good. However, many of them contain artificial seasonings, so I hardly use them.
If you’d like to make dashi with natural ingredients, I think this article helps you with that.
What is Ichiban dashi?
There are many types of dashi and many different ingredients for making dashi. When you try to look up how to make dashi, most of the time you would see the recipes for “Kombu and Katsuo Ichiban dashi”.
一番 (ichiban) means “the first” in this case. Ichiban dashi made from Kombu seaweed and katsuobushi/bonito flakes is the most common, although there are some kinds of ichiban dashi made from only katsuobushi or other dried fish.
The “kombu and katsuo Ichiban dashi” is extremely flavorful and aromatic. The harmony between inosinic acid that comes out of katsuobushi and glutamic acid that comes out of kombu makes the ultimate umami flavor.
This is luxurious dashi and should be used for dishes where you can enjoy the rich aroma as well as the flavor, such as Japanese clear soup, chawanmushi, and so on. Also, this rich umami flavor helps your low salt diet because you can be satisfied with the flavor even though you don’t add a lot of seasonings.
There’re many types of kombu here in Japan. I’m going to introduce Japanese kombu and its usage in the future. So let’s focus on how to make dashi here.
I usually use this 利尻昆布(Rishiri kombu) because it allows me to make rich and flavorful dashi.
I guess 利尻昆布(Rishiri kombu) isn’t easy to get in your area, even here in Tokyo it’s not common at local markets.
If you don’t know well about katsuobushi, please check out the article below so that you can easily understand the further explanation.
Since I’m particular about dashi, I usually make my dashi from scratch. What I’m trying to say is “I like to shave my katsuobushi first”.
I know it’s time-consuming, and the shape of my katsuobushi flakes don’t look as good as the ones shaved by a machine at a market. However, once you smell the aroma of freshly shaven katsuobushi flakes, you’ll probably want to shave your own like me.
Also, as you can see, the color of katsuobushi flakes are different between freshly shaven flakes and pre-packed products. Dried katsuo starts to oxidize as soon as it’s shaven, and turns a brownish color.
This traditional way is not common in current Japan. However, it’s popular among cooking enthusiasts. If you are, you should try it!
Using pre-packed katsuobushi flakes is a common way of making dashi. If you make your dashi in this way, I recommend using Honkarebushi flakes. Please make sure this kanji 本枯節 (Honkarebushi) is written on the package so that you can experience the beautiful aroma.
Please don’t mind if you can’t find Honkarebushi flakes at the Japanese grocery store nearby. You can enjoy the umami flavor even if you use different katsuo flakes. But unfortunately, the aroma is much less than Honkarebushi flakes.
Water is one of the key ingredients for dashi. Please make sure you use soft water when bringing out the umami of natural ingredients. A lot of minerals in hard water seal the surface of the ingredients and hold the umami on the inside. It’s good for stewing meat and poultry. On the other hand, soft water doesn’t contain abundant minerals and allows us to bring out the umami of the ingredients. We have softwater in Japan, so I can use tap water for making dashi. However, I always use filtered water for it. The difference between them is obvious to me. That’s why I think water is also one of the ingredients.
If you use this Ichiban dashi for strong-flavored dishes, it ruins the beautiful aroma. Also, the flavor is a little too weak for those kinds of dishes. I also think that Ichiban dashi is a little too extravagant for daily meals.
For your everyday dishes, you can use 二番だし(Niban dashi) which means the second dashi, or if you think its aroma would be too weak, you can use the mixture of Ichiban dashi and Niban dashi.
Can you see the difference between Ichiban dashi and Niban dashi?
Ichiban dashi is thicker, and more clear than Niban dashi because Ichiban dashi is carefully made to make sure unwanted flavors don’t come out.
On the contrary, Niban dashi is made to bring out the flavors as much as possible even if some other flavors are contained. The miscellaneous flavors in Niban dashi are not so strong and wouldn’t bother you when you make a thick flavored dish. At least I don’t mind it when I make daily meals.
Here is the recipe for Niban dashi.
The importance of the timings
The way of making Ichiban dashi is quite simple and doesn’t take you a long time. I’ve heard this is the fastest way to make broth in the world. However, you have to see some perfect timings carefully.
I’m posting larger photos to show you the signs for the timings although I’m going to instruct the process in the recipe.
Please take a closer look at the kombu in the pot. Can you see the small bubbles at the edges of the kombu? That is the perfect timing to remove the kombu from the pot. If you cook the kombu too much, some unwanted flavors come out. The temperature is approximately 60℃ (140℉).
Next, when you can see the small bubbles on the bottom of the pot, it’s the perfect timing for adding katsuobushi flakes. The temperature is approximately 85℃ (185℉).
Of course, you don’t need to measure the temperature each time you make that. I just do that to show you the signs for the perfect timings.
Let’s use the leftovers
After you made dashi, you’ll have the leftovers with you.
As you know, food waste is a big problem in the world. If you have a compost pile, it must be a good idea to add the leftovers to that. Unfortunately, compost is not common here in Japan because we have a huge population in this small country. Leftover ingredients from dashi don’t have rich flavors anymore, however, they still have nutrition. I’ll show you some of my ideas to use the leftovers in the future.
Now let’s go on to the recipe for Ichiban Dashi!
Thank you for allowing me to share my recipe with you. I hope to see you again soon.
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