Dashi is the basic soup stock used in Japanese cooking, which is quickly made from scratch, so there is no need to bother with the instant dashi granules, which are high in sodium and often times contain MSG.

There are just two ingredients: bonito flakes and konbu seaweed, which are available at Asian markets, but also at a Whole Food or very well stocked regular supermarket as well.

The first steeping is also called ichiban-dashi – first stock. Frugal housewives often make niban-dashi – second stock – by re-extracting more goodness out of the kombu and bonito flakes already used for ichiban-dashi.

Basic Recipe: Dashi stock (ichiban dashi)

  • 1 4-inch (3-4 cm) piece of dried kombu seaweed
  • A handful of bonito flakes or one small packet
  • 4 c. Cold water, from the tap (you might consider filtering it if it is too hard or chlorinated)

Rinse the dried seaweed and cut 5-6 times with a scissors into a fringe, which allows easy extraction from the pot yet provides more surface area for the seaweed to extract into the broth. Bring the water to a simmer, not a full boil, then add the handful of bonito flakes. Immediately switch off the heat and let it sit for at least 5 minutes. Strain through a sieve, pressing out all the goodness with a wooden spoon, but don’t go crazy extracting its goodness, as you can make it bitter.

Makes 3-4 cups.