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Sauces and Condiments

Bonito flakes and konbu seaweed dashi

Bonito flakes and konbu seaweed dashi
Glenn Koenig / Los Angeles Times

At the heart of so much of Japanese cooking is the fragrant broth called dashi. And at the heart of dashi are the delicate pink petals of katsuobushi, shaved flakes of dried bonito fish. When steeped with the dried seaweed ... Read more

Total time: 40 minutes | Makes about 7 1/2 cups
  • 1 piece dashi konbu seaweed (6 to 8 inches long)
  • 5 cups loosely packed dried bonito flakes
  • 8 1/2 cups water, divided

Step 1Using scissors, make several crosswise cuts in the konbu. This helps to extract the flavor during cooking.

Step 2Place the konbu and 8 cups of water in a large saucepan and set it aside for 10 minutes. Place the pan over medium heat and cook until the water almost comes to a boil, then pluck out the konbu.

Step 3Keep heating the water to a boil, then remove from the heat. Add one-half cup of cold water. Wait for the liquid to cool a minute or two, then gently add the bonito flakes. Do not stir. When the bonito flakes have settled, about 3 minutes, strain them through a sieve lined with cheesecloth or paper towels. Don't stir the stock because that will cloud the dashi. The dashi should be aromatic and have a light amber color.

Note: The primary dashi is called ichiban dashi, which is used for clear soups and seasoning food. It's enjoyed for its fragrance and clean flavor. The secondary dashi made with used konbu seaweed and bonito flakes from the primary dashi is called nibanashi. This is also a multi-purpose dashi that is used for miso soups and seasoning foods, but the flavor is blander than the first one. The used konbu can be sliced and eaten straight, in soups or seasoned with soy sauce. The dashi will keep in the refrigerator for three days, or you can freeze it for a month.

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