Dashi - Basic Stock

Dashi, a light fish stock, is a fundamental ingredient in Japanese cooking, and one of the most delicious stocks I've ever tasted. In Kaiseki cooking, dashi is used in Nimono and miso soups, for sauces and dressings, and for flavoring simmered ingredients.

Dashi is easy to make and you will be delighted with the results. It takes only 45 minutes or so. You will need katsuo, or dried bonito flakes (the book has supply sources if you can't locate this) and a dried seaweed called kombu. Never wash or rinse kombu; simply wipe it lightly with a damp cloth before using.

makes 8 cups

5 pieces of Kombu approximately 3x5 inches
10 1/2 cups of water
1.75 ounces or 5 cups of densely packed Katsuo (Bonito flakes only)
2 tablespoons sake
pinch salt
3 teaspoons light soy sauce

Bring the Kombu and water to just under simmer and cook for 25 minutes, tasting frequently as the flavors develop. Make sure it doesn't boil.

With tongs, remove the kombu from the pot and discard it. Add the remaining 1/2 cup cold water to the broth to bring its temperature down.

Add the katsuo, a handful at a time, allowing the flakes to settle into the water without stirring. Taste the broth after adding a few handfuls, then taste again when you've added all the katsuo. This will give you a sense of how flavors develop.

Immediately remove the broth from the heat and strain it through a fine mesh sieve into another pot. You now have the basic dashi used in many Kaiseki recipes.

To seasoned the dashi, heat the broth to just under a simmer; never let it boil. Add the sake, salt, and soy sauce.

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