‘Dashi’’s Story What is ‘Dashi’ ? What is ‘Umami’ ?
‘Dashi’ is a Japanese broth which determines the flavor and taste of dishes.
How is ‘Dashi’ made?
‘Dashi’ is made by extracting ‘Umami’ from different types of ingredients in either cold or hot water. What is ‘Umami’ then? It is said that people savor 5 different tastes with the receptors on one’s tongue. Sweetness, bitterness, sourness, saltiness and ‘Umami’. This ‘Umami’ does not simply mean indescribably delicious but is one of the tastes when the receptor responds to glutamates and nucleotides contained in the ingredients. ‘Konbu’ (Kelp), ‘Edamame’ (immature soybeans), and tomatoes contain glutamates while ‘Konbu’ and other types of seafood and meat contain inosine acid, a nucleotide. Dried ‘Shiitake’ mushrooms contain guanylic acid while oyster and scallops and other types of shellfish contain succinic acid, both nucleotides. Combined, they create a somewhat sweet, tongue-covering savoriness. We call a broth that is made from these ingredients ‘Dashi.’
We can make ‘Dashi’ using almost any ingredients. However, some ingredients contain more ‘Umami’ than others and some are easier to extract ‘Umami’ from than other ingredients.
In Japanese food preparation, the most common ingredients are ‘Konbu’ (kelp), and ‘Katsuo-bushi’ (dried bonito flakes). The ‘Dashi’ determines the taste and quality of the restaurant. Every restaurant has its own way of making ‘Dashi’ as the ingredients and techniques all vary. We would like to show you how we make the broth at our restaurant.
There are many varieties of both kelp and bonito flakes. For kelp, there are 5 main varieties; Rijiri, Hidaka, Ma-konbu, Rausu and Naga-konbu. There is also a grading system which determine the quality of kelp from 1 to 10. Each kelp has its own character. In our restaurant, we use 1st grade Rijiri (1st and 3rd grade Rijiri kelp are shown in the photo).
Similarly, there are varieties of bonito flakes, with the two main varieties being fermented and non-fermented. For both types, bonito fish are first filleted and simmered then smoked for a certain number of hours each day for up to 1 month. (In the photo, the slightly white one at the top is fermented and the blackish one below is unfermented). Unfermented bonito flakes have a lighter taste compared to the fermented bonito flakes which have a stronger taste and flavor. We use fermented bonito flakes.
Not, let us show you how we make our broth.
How we make ‘Dashi’ broth
We use 80g of Rijiri Kelp and 120g of bonito flakes for every 2 liters of water.
Bonito flakes are shredded thinly so the ‘Umami’ can be fully extracted.
We use soft water taken from our well which is fed by mountain spring water (hardness; 30mg/L).
Using such soft water allow the kelp’s ‘Umami’ (glutamine) to fully emerge.
Heat water and kelp together in a pot. (High heat) When the temperature reaches 65 degree Celsius, reduce the heat. For 1 hour, keep the temperature between 65 and 70 degree Celsius.
After 1 hour, turn up the heat. Just before boiling (90℃～95℃), take out kelp. Then add bonito flakes and immediately turn off the heat.
After 30 seconds, drain the broth using a cotton cloth or cooking paper.
This ‘Dashi’ broth is called ‘Ichiban (#1) Dashi’ in which the best parts from both the kelp and bonito flakes are extracted into the broth. We can simply enjoy this broth as a clear soup. Additionally, we can use both the kelp and bonito flakes again by adding water and boiling for 10 to 15 minutes. This becomes ‘Niban (#2) Dashi’ which we use for cooking vegetables and marinating ingredients.
‘Dashi’ broth determines and defines the taste of the restaurant. We hope you enjoy the ‘Dashi’ in our dishes to the utmost!