life and culture

Japanese meals can not be cooked without ‘Dashi’

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It is the second post about Japanese food. The Japanese food introduced at this site is not like traditional Japanese course dinner, sushi or tempura at restaurant.
I will introduce routine and frugality meals that busy modern people can eat at home. So, even if you do not where Japanese restaurant is, you may be able to experience Japanese cuisine in your daily meal without knowledge of Japanese cooking.
First post>>  Tasting of Simmered Mackerel in Miso Sauce

Features of Japanese home cooking

It is to eat other than Japanese food. Italian, French, Indian, Chinese and so on. Various countries foods are cooked at home in Japan. And the characteristic is that they are placed on a table at the same time. For example, no one cares, although croquette, miso soup and curry on one table. And many people eat them with chopsticks.
Moreover, people often arrange foreign meals to Japanese style. Tonkatsu, tempura and ramen are known as Japanese cuisine also popular among foreigners, but the original is not Japanese cuisine.

What is Japanese Cuisine

It is difficult to define Japanese cuisine because Japanese food also refer the ideas from foreign cuisine. The characteristics of the Japanese food when registered as UNESCO intangible cultural heritage were the following four.

  • Variety of fresh ingredients and respect that taste
  • Healthy eating habit with excellent nutritional balance
  • To express natural beauty and seasonal change
  • Having close relationship with annual events.

In addition to this, ‘Umami will be regarded as important’. People care that the dish has “Umami”, whether it is a Japanese cuisine or a foreign cuisine.

The taste Umami – soup stock

Soup stocks influence Umami. Soup stock is called ‘Dashi’ in Japanese language and indispensable for Japanese cooking. And people often transform foreign cuisine to Japanese style using the ‘Dashi’. I introduce traditional and popular Japanese soup stock.

Katsuo – Dashi

It must be the most popular soup stock. It is made from dried bonito which is the hardest food in the world. When it is cooked, dried bonito is shaved like paper.

Konbu – Dashi

It is made from dried kelp (seaweed). It is as popular as ‘Katsuo – Dashi’. ‘Konbu – Dashi’ is easy to use except Japanese cuisine, too. Added it with your pasta sauce or stew and so on. The taste becomes deep.

Iriko – Dashi

It is made from small dried fish.

Ago – Dashi

It is made from flying fish.

Dried shiitake mushroom

Extracts after returning dry shiitake with water can be used for cooking. It has a distinctive flavor than the above ‘Dashi’s.

Use soup stock

When cooking vegetables soup using the ‘Dashi’, Japanese dish is completed. When the taste is weak, add salt. If you can get soy sauce or miso, using them. It will be closer to Japanese dish more.
The combination is free. Use them according to your taste. The point is that vegetable soup is good for animal food such as meat or fish. For vegetables, animal-type soup stock such as ‘Katsuo – Dashi’ is better. In my case, when cooking miso soup, following combination.

  • Cabbage with Katuo – Dashi
  • Onions with Iriko – Dashi
  • Chicken with Konbu – Dashi
  • Tofu with dried shiitake

It is just my preference. And it is also possible to mix several kinds of soup stock.

One day’s meal

  • Boiled tofu by dried shiitake soup stock.
  • Salmon milk soup based on Konbu-Dashi.
  • Omelette used Katsuo-Dashi and soy sauce.
  • Boiled cabbage by Iriko-Dashi.
  • Vinegared seaweed.

Traditionaly, milk isn’t used for Japanese meal. However, it become familiar taste by Konbu- Dashi.

How to get Dashi

Originally, cooking ‘Dashi’ needs preparation. It takes time and effort. It is difficult for people who do not have enough time to cook every day. But don’t worry!


(from the left) Konbu, Iriko, Katsuo, dried shiitake

Granule type soup stocks are sold into small packed. You can use this (the dried shiitake photograph is not a granule type). Certainly the method is lazy way. It is not a fine Dashi like fine restaurants. However, it is not needed to have stressed with everyday meals cooking.

If you trip to Japan, the Dashi pack may be a good souvenir. It is sold at supermarkets and convenience stores, and it light and possible to storage long time. You can distribute one pack, if you have friends who interested in Japanese food. It is a good size to try Japanese cooking once.

Mail order

(from the left) Katsuo-Dashi, Konbu-Dashi, Iriko-Dashi, Ago-Dashi. Use with 500 cc of hot water per pack.

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