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I learned to make dashi a basic broth used in Japan from The Book of Tofu and a friend. In school I made some soup for a friend from Japan and he had seconds, it was from flakes. He asked where I learned to make it. It made me happy. It was not until years later that I started to wonder if he thought it was bad, but who knows. Self doubt is rough.

How much kombu you start with is a matter of taste. But for the sake of giving someone a recipe, take a piece of dried kombu seaweed, a little bigger than 4"x8", the size of a letter sized envelope, rinse it quickly and put it in about a quart of water. Bring the water to a boil. If you want to extract a lot of flavor do this slower, but if you are going to boil the stuff like a barbarian, never mind the slower. It does not matter much. When the water has just come to a boil, or just short of the boil, turn down or off the heat. Take out the kombu and dry it. You can then use it to make #2 dashi. I leave mine in although sometimes I remove it and cut it into slices. Take a tablespoon or two of dry katsuobushi flake, dried bonito flake, and dip it in with a stainless steel ladle extracting the flavor as you would perhaps with tea if you were not set up to really make tea and think that the leaves are yucky or something. Or if you are a barbarian just drop them in. It makes for a less subtle and smooth broth, but does not waste the protein. Taste it as you go.

This broth can be used as a basis for miso soup. Seasoned with soy sauce or tamari it is the basis for some other Japanese soups. I almost always include some shitaki mushrooms in this. Dashi is a base that is used in all sorts of foods Japanese, and there are many varieties. Dried sardines can be used instead of katsuobushi or along with it. Shitake mushroom, already mentioned, should be soaked overnight before simmering. Use the soaking water too.

The question becomes, "why this broth?". The Japanese word "Umami" was coined by Kikunae Ikeda, a Japanese chemist, in 1908

I think it was Akio Takamori who gave my my first whole piece. I used a wood plane for years to shave it. This was a gift from Japanese student's mother but the fish is a refill I just ordered. I am on a low salt diet. Making ta broth rich before adding miso or tamari is really helpful when I am in the Japanese food area. Having great miso or tamari cuts the amount needed down significantly subtle can be more powerful than brute force in flavors. For a while I was working on low salt varieties of miso but I have found that I favor darker misos and end up using less (violates the subtle rule just stated). I also use katsuobushi in less Japanese dishes. I prefer it when it is really fresh shaved and when the piece has not been out of its bag much. I have no problem with MSG except the sodium part of it. A few years ago I bought some non-soduim glutamate, L-glutamic acid. 1/16th of teaspoon in a serving is a lot and it is very similar other than the sodium bite. Life is complicated. I am interested in all things umami-ish and have been thinking about seeing if other non-koji enzymes can do a number on proteins to make glutamates, its not on my must do soon list though. I have wondered about roasting soybeans before making miso out of them. I made some miso out of tempeh and it was tasting very good before it started to get flys because I covered it poorly. Its on my future project list.

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Page last modified on May 23, 2023, at 07:20 PM