Dashi is one of the quintessential building blocks of Japanese food, featuring in everything from soups to sauces to okonomiyaki. The rich umami notes give dishes an incredible depth of flavor without relying heavily on salt or fat (which could definitely contribute to Japan’s long life expectancy!).
This broth traditionally comes in 5 easy-to-make varieties, some of which are completely vegan-friendly.
- Katsuo dashi is one of the more common types of dashi, made from dried bonito fish. The mild fish flavor makes it a popular choice for soups and ramen, and it’s my personal favorite for rice soups.
- Iriko dashi comes from dried sardines or anchovies. While the fish flavor is pretty mild, it’s considerably more pungent than katsuo dashi. This one is a popular addition to beef stews and miso soups that can stand up to the flavor and aroma.
- Shiitake dashi is a popular choice with vegetarian and vegan cooks, with a rich color and a hearty flavor. Make sure you use dried mushrooms for this stock, since fresh mushrooms don’t have the same intense flavor.
- Kombu dashi has the most subtle flavor out of all the options, and this versatile vegan broth is a great option for any dish that needs a subtle layer of umami.
- Awase dashi translates to “combined dashi”, and this combination broth is most often made with katsuo and kombu dashi. Instant dashi powders and packets are usually designed to make awase dashi, thanks to the rich flavor it gives.
Dashi can be the quickest kind of broth to make from scratch, with a simmering process that lasts less than 30 minutes. If you’re making shiitake or kombu dashi, you can even cold-brew the broth by soaking the ingredients in the fridge overnight. It’s a low-effort process to make a high-impact ingredient!
If you want to bring some extra savory flavor into your dish, dashi broth might be just the perfect touch you’re looking for!