The Story of Dashi

The Story of Dashi

Dashi - a culture which the Japanese are proud of

  • Kombu dashi

    Kombu dashi is a dashi taken from the kombu, plant. The kombu is cultivated in Hokkaido and a part of Tohoku Japan.

  • Ichiban Dashi

    Ichiban dashi (first brewed dashi) is based on kombu dashi to which we add katsuobushi. In addition to the glutamate and aspartate of kombu, umami from katsuobushi; glutamate and nucleotide inosinate are added.
    With the aroma and flavor of katsuobushi, it has strong umami. In some ryotei, Japanese high-end resutaurants, use tuna bushi instead of katsuo bushi.

  • Niban Dashi

    A common way to make niban dashi (second brewed dashi) is to add half as much of the water used in ichiban dashi onto kombu and the katsuobushi used in ichiban dashi, then to cook it slowly. It brings stable umami and goes well with simmered dishes and miso soup.

  • Niboshi dashi

    Compared to katsuobushi, niboshi dashi has a slightly more fishy taste. It can be used for dried food and pungent ingredients and miso soup.

  • Shojin Dashi

    To prepare dashi for shojin, vegetarian dishes, kombu is mainly used. Fish and meat are not allowed to be used in Buddhism, so katsuobushi and animal bone cannot be used. Besides kombu, dried shiitake mushroom, soy beans, dried gourd or vegetable skin is used. Dried shiitake mushroom has a stronger umami and aroma out of these, however, its strong character unbalances the taste. So please be careful about how much you use.

Umami Synergistic Effect in Dashi

Umami substance in Kombu dashi and Ichiban dashi prepared from a traditional ryotei restaurant in Kyoto

Umami Substance in Kombu dashi and Ichiban dashi from a luxurious traditional ryotei restaurant in Kyoto. The umami substance found in kombu dashi is glutamate alone, one of amino acids, while in ichiban dashi, were approximately same amount of the glutamate and inosinate, nucleotide.

Umami substance in Kombu dashi and Ichiban dashi prepared from a traditional ryotei restaurant in Kyoto

Intensity of Umami in Kombudashi and Ichiban dashi from a restaurant in Kyoto

The graph shows the intensity of umami in kombu dashi and ichiban dashi. Kombu dashi contains umami of glutamate, a kind of amino acid. In ichiban dashi, the synergistic effect that occurs from glutamate and inosinate of nucleotide makes us taste umami 8 times more than the quantity of the real umami substance. There is research saying that umami synergy becomes strongest when the amount of glutamate and inosinate is almost the same. So, the recipe of ichiban dashi served at the restaurant in Kyoto can be said to be very reasonable.

Intensity of Umami in Kombudashi and Ichiban dashi from a restaurant in Kyoto

Compared with the umami substance in kombu dashi and in ichiban dashi, the umami substance in ichiban dashi is twice that in kombudashi. However, when we taste it, ichiban dashi brings about a much stronger umami. This is said to be the synergistic effect of umami. The umami of amino acids and of nucleotic acids do not enhance the umami flavor in an additive way but multiply it many times over.
Furthermore, the other academic paper reports the same level of glutamate and inosinate brings the strongest synergy effect.

How to make dashi

Kombu dashi

Kombu is cultivated mainly in Hokkaido, Japan and the Tohoku region. The shape, taste and intensity of umami differs by origin. Kombu is one of the ingredients that contains the highest amount of umami. At the Umami Information Center, we prepare kombu dashi in the soaked or heated way.

【 Soaked Dashi 】

  • Ingredients:
  • ・Kombu (dried) 20g (2% weight of water)
  • ・1 L (33.8 fl oz.) of soft water*
  • *The Umami Information Center uses soft water with low mineral content.
  • Ingredients:
  • Place kombu and water in a container such as a bowl or a bottle. Keep it in a refrigerator overnight to bring out the kombu extract.

【 Heated dashi 】

【 Heated dashi 】

  • Ingredients:
  • ・Kombu (dried) 20g (2% weight of water)
  • ・1 L (33.8 fl oz.) of soft water**The Umami Information Center uses soft water with low mineral content.
  • Ingredients:
  • Place kombu and water in a container such as a bowl or a bottle. Keep it in a refrigerator overnight to bring out the kombu extract.

【 Heated dashi 】

【 Heated dashi 】

Kombu dashi

Kombu dashi

Heated dashi

Dashi of kombu and katsuo( ichiban dashi and niban dashi )

The dashi is called ichiban dashi and is suitable for subtle-tasting dishes, such as Japanese clear soup and steamed dishes. In the ichiban dashi, the flavor of katsuo is crucial. Let’s prepare it right before you use it. Niban dashi is made of kombu and kezuribushi, which used in ichiban dashi. Put them in 300ml water and boil for 2~3 minutes. This is suitable for miso soup and simmered dishes.

  • Ingredients:(for about 500ml dashi)
  • ・Kombu (dried) 4cm square (2~5% weight of water)
  • ・8g shaved katsuobushi (1〜2% weight of water)
  • ・600ml water* 
  • *The Umami Information Center uses soft water with low mineral content.
  • Ingredients:
  • 1. Place the kombu and water in a pan. Heat to medium heat.(When there is enough time to leave the kombu in water, leave it for 30 minutes before heating up.)
  • 2. Take the kombu out right before boiling. Add shaved katsuobushi.
  • 3. When it boils, stop heating and wait until the katsuobushi goes down to the bottom. Strain with a strainer.

Kombu dashi

Niboshi Dashi

  • Ingredients:(for about 500ml dashi)
  • ・20g niboshi (3~4% weight of water)
  • ・600ml water* 
  • *The Umami Information Center uses soft water with low mineral content.
  • Ingredients:
  • 1. Remove the head and stomach of sardines by hand.
  • 2. Place them in water and let them boil.
  • 3. Skim off the foam and continue to heat for 4〜5 minutes. Then, strain with a strainer.

※You can use niboshi dashi just as a dish or you can mix it with kombudashi.

Niboshi Dashi

Shojin Dashi (Vegetarian Dashi)

  • Ingredients:
  • ・Kombu Dashi (Simmered) (30g Rishiri Kombu/1.8L water)
  • ・Dried shiitake mushroom dashi (Soaked in water)  (150g dried shiitake mushroom/1.8L water)  
  • *The Umami Information Center uses soft water with low mineral content.
  • Ingredients:
  • 1. Wash dried shiitake mushroom darts and place them in a bowl of water and leave to soak for half a day.
  • 2. Put the kombu in the water and heat for one hour keeping it at 60℃, then take the kombu out.
  • 3. Add dried shiitake mushroom dashi into 2.
  • 4. Strain 3 with a kitchen cloth, etc.

Shojin Dashi (