What is Dashi?
~ Everything You Need to Know About Japanese Soup Stock ~

what is dashi, dashi recipe

Soup stock is an extract of certain foodstuffs, such as fish, meats, vegetables, and seaweed, and it is often used to add flavor to cooked dishes.
Globally, beef and chicken stocks are the most popular.

In Japan, soup stocks are commonly made from certain fish (e.g., dried bonito flakes, boiled and dried Japanese anchovy, and flying fish), algae (e.g., dried kelp (konbu)), and fungi (e.g., dried mushroom (shiitake)).

These soup stocks are called “dashi.”

Dashi is not only used to make miso, but it can be used in a lof of various dishes.

In this article, we will tell you a lot of stuffs about dashi.
From what exactly dashi is, dashi recipes, to its health benefits.

What is Dashi?

what is dashi, Japanese dashi

The Japanese food culture ‘WASHOKU’ was added to the list of United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s Intangible Cultural Heritage in December 2013.

Dashi, the traditional Japanese stock, is an indispensable part in Japanese cuisine because of its flavor enhancing action and hence sometimes referred to as ‘the heart of Japanese cuisine’.

It is is a basic Japanese stock or broth which can be made from various ingredients.

Dashi is used to add flavor to not only soup but also to Japanese salad and simmered dishes in Japan.

Dashi is a common ingredient of many Japanese recipes, such as boiled dishes, noodles, and soups.

The three most popular ingredients used in making dashi are shiitake mushrooms (Lentinula edodes), kombu kelp (Laminaria japonica), and katsuobushi, dried bonito (Katsuwonus pelamis).
These each contain a large quantity of umami substances: shiitake containing guanylic acid, katsuobushi inosinic acid, and kombu glutamic acid.

Common recipes for Japanese dashi are:
to make bonito dashi, dried bonito flakes are added to boiling water and cooked for a few minutes;
to make konbu dashi, konbu is soaked in water and heated to 100 °C before removing the konbu, etc.

These recipes are less time consuming than either western or Chinese soup stocks, which require longer cooking times.
Later in this article, we will tell you the steps to make various kinds of dashi.

what is dashi, Japanese dashi

In Japan, many forms of instant dashi are widely available, which are based on dietary habits and are chosen based on preferences and types of dishes being prepared.

Dashi is commonly used for daily dishes (such as miso and clear soups), salads, simmered dishes, and fried foods.

There are homemade dashi, which is the one made by ourselves in kitchen, and instant dashi which is sold in large quantities in the market.

Instant dashi is made from seasonings (e.g., free amino acids, salt, sugar, and dextrin), food extracts, and natural ingredients (e.g., dried bonito, konbu, and shiitake).
Instant dashi is often sold as a powder or in a bag.

Even if instant dashi is easier to prepare than homemade dashi, the homemade dashi is much healthier and have more nutrients.

The differences in the flavors of instant and homemade dashi are related to the specific components added; many amino acids are present in homemade dashi, whereas instant dashi contains mostly glutamate.

Types of Dashi and
How to Make Dashi

what is dashi, Japanese dashi

The three most popular dashi are shiitake mushrooms (Lentinula edodes), kombu kelp (Laminaria japonica), and katsuobushi, dried bonito (Katsuwonus pelamis).

But actually, there are more types of dashi that are commonly cooked and used in Japanese dining table.

Here we are introducing you to these types of dashi and how to make them.
They are:

  • ・ Katsuo Dashi (Bonito Broth)
  • ・ Kombu Dashi
  • ・ Niboshi Dashi/Iriko Dashi
  • ・ Yaki-ago Dashi
  • ・ Hoshi-shiitake Dashi
  • ・ Vegetable Scraps Dashi
  • ・ Vegetarian Dashi

Our recommendation is a combination of katsuo dashi and kombu dashi, which are made with katsuobushi (bonito flakes) and kombu (a kind of edible kelp from mostly the family of Laminariaceae).

The combination of katsuobushi's inosinic acid and kombu's glutamic acid will bring out two different flavors, and give a taste seven times as good than when using only one kind of dashi.

The dashi seasoning available in market usually is too strong and tends to make any ingredients have the same taste.

In order to make the best of the taste of the ingredients, the carefully-made natural stock would be the best.

It's a Japanese cooking soup stock that seems troublesome to cook, but it can be called as "instant" when compared to other countries' soup stocks and broths that often required to be cooked/boiled for a long time.

The important thing is the "time spend soaked in water."
Let's decide "the timing of soaking ingredients in water" at before breakfast and after dinner.

Once you have put it into your habit, you can easily make the regular dashi in the same way as making a cup of tea.

Here, we will tell you how to make dashi!

Katsuo Dashi

The katsuo dashi is a dashi made with katsuobushi.
It is characterized by its refined taste and rich aroma, and it's an all-purpose dashi that brings out the taste of any ingredients.

This dashi doesn't need much time to soak in the water like other ingredients, so you would be able to make it quickly when you want to eat miso soup.

The flavor of katsuo dashi will be improved by combining it with the vegetable-based kombu dashi.

Ingedients for4 servings
Cooking Time20 minutes
Katsuo Dashi


1 litre
30 grams

 How to Make

Put water in a pot and turn on the heat, then turn off the heat when it's boiling.
Put katsuobushi in the boiled water and wait 1 to 2 minutes.
Drain the katsuobushi with cloth, kitchen paper, or strainer.
Then, your katsuo dashi is completed!

Kombu Dashi

The features of kombu dashi are characterized by the gentle taste of the dashi and how it can make the best of original taste of the ingredients without a crease.

The flavor of kombu dashi will be improved by combining it with the animal-based dashi like katsuo dashi or niboshi dashi.

Besides the boiling step, there are also soaking step in the making of kombu dashi. In the case of the soaking step, please add a little more of amount of the kombu.

Ingredients for4 servings
Cooking Time20 minutes
Kombu Dashi


1 litre
20 grams

 How to Make

Lightly wipe the surface of kombu with a well-squeezed cloth and remove small rocks and sands possibly sticking on the surface.
The white powder-like substance attached to the surface of kombu is a flavor component called mannit, so be careful not to scrape it!
Soak the kelp in a pot/bowl of water and leave for 30 minutes to 1 hour.
Put the pot on a medium heat, then take out the kombu when small bubbles are formed, and your kombu dashi is finished.
Please note that if you over-cook the dashi, it will be slimy and its flavor will worsen.

Niboshi Dashi/Iriko Dashi

Niboshi (煮干し), often called Iriko (炒り子) in Western Japan, are Japanese dried infant sardines (sometimes incorrectly translated as anchovies).
They are one of many varieties of small dried fish used throughout Asia in snacks and as seasoning for soup stocks and other foods.

Niboshi or iriko dashi is one of the more common forms of dashi.

Niboshi dashi is made by soaking and boiling niboshi in plain water. If left overnight or brought nearly to a boil, the flavor of the small sardines permeates the water and makes a delicious dashi.

Niboshi dashi or iriko dashi has feature that is characterized by the strong taste of fish.

It's suitable for simple and homely miso soup.

There are soaking step and boiling step in the making of niboshi dashi. If you use it for miso soup, it's recommended that you do the boiling step sufficiently.

Ingredients for4 servings
Cooking Time20 minutes
Niboshi Dashi Iriko Dashi


1 litre
・Niboshi (Iriko)
30 grams (The weight after heads
and internal organs are removed)

 How to Make

Remove niboshi's head and internal organs.
In this step, you lightly fry the niboshis in a frying pan, it'll be more delicious.
Soak niboshi in the water in a pot/bowl and leave it for several hours to half a day.
If the room temperature is high, you can put it in refrigerator.
Heat the pot, and boil with strong heat.
After it's boiling, turn to low heat and boil for about 5 minutes while removing the scum from the stock.
Drain the niboshi/iriko with cloth, kitchen paper, or strainer.
Then, your niboshi dashi (or iriko dashi) is completed!

Yaki-ago Dashi

"Ago" is a Japanese term for "tobiuo (トビウオ、飛魚)" means Flying Fish.
Flying fish is a family of marine fish in the order Beloniformes class Actinopterygii .

While "yaki (焼き)" is Japanese word for grilled or roasted.

So, "yaki-ago" means "grilled flying fish."
Yaki-ago refers to a dried, grilled flying fish. A dashi made from yaki-ago is called yaki-ago dashi.

Yaki-ago dashi is a premium Japanese dashi with clear elegance and deep flavor.

The characteristic of this yakiago dashi is it has slightly savory aroma and sweet flavor.

Recommended dishes are udon soup, oden, shabu-shabu, and other dishes that clearly show the taste of the soup, but of course miso soup will also be delicious with yaki-ago dashi!

Ingredients for4 servings
Cooking Time20 minutes
Yaki ago dashi


1 litre
・Yaki ago
30 grams

 How to Make

Remove the heads and internal organs of the yaki-ago.
・You can still make a proper taste of yaki-ago dashi without taking the head and internal organs. But if you take it, you can avoid the off-flavor (bitterness or other unpleasant taste) being formed in the dashi.
・In this step, you lightly fry the yakiago in a frying pan, it'll be more delicious.
Break the yakiago into small pieces, soak in water in a pot/bowl and leave for half a day.
If the room temperature is high, you can put it in refrigerator.
Put the pot on a low heat, and turn off the fire when the foams start to rise.
Don't boil it until big bubbles are forming, because it will make the dashi smelly.
Drain the yaki-ago with cloth, kitchen paper, or strainer.
Then, your yaki-ago dashi is completed!

Hoshi-shiitake Dashi

Shiitake is a Japan’s most well-known mushroom.

This flavoursome, slightly chewy mushroom is believed to have many benefits to the health and contains significant quantities of vitamins B and D.

Meanwhile, "hoshi (干し)" means dried.

So, Hoshi shiitake means dried shiitake mushroom.

Hoshi Shiitake are large, flat, dried shiitake mushrooms.
They have a more concentrated, meaty flavour than fresh shiitake mushrooms, and have chewy texture.

They are dark brown on top, and tan or orangey-brown underneath where the gills are.

Hoshi shittake (dried shiitake mushroom) can be made into delicious dashi, the hoshi-shiitake dashi (or dried shiitake dashi).

This dashi is often used for boiled foods, such as Japanese nabe/hot pot, etc.

For those who do not prefer dashi with animal ingredients in it, like vegetarians, hoshi-shiitake is a handy ingredients along with kombu.

Hoshi-shiitake dashi also has good compatibility with kombu.
We recommended you to make a combined dashi of kombu and hoshi shiitake.

Ingredients4 servings
Cooking Time20 minutes
Hoshi shiitake dashi


・Cold water
1 litre
・Hoshi shiitake/
Dried shiitake mushrooms
40 grams

 How to Make

Clean the dirt from hoshi shiitake lightly.
When washing with running water, don't use strong flow of water.
Put cold water in a container (pan/bowl), soak the dried shiitake mushrooms, and cover it with a lid.
Leave for half a day in the refrigerator.
If you don't have time, you can crush the shiitake, or take it out in the middle of process and slice it. Then, you can make the dashi with just a few hours of soaking.
Add the dashi to your dishes, heat it before eating.

Vegetable Scraps Dashi

As the name suggests, it is soup stock made from vegetables.

Using the cut ends, skins, and cores, scraps of vegetable that is usually used for cooking, such as white radish/daikon, cabbage, onions, carrots, celery, etc., this soup is a representative of health-consciousness.

Each vegetables have different nutrients, so it's recommended to use many kinds of vegetables.

Of course, the fishery-type dashi is not only nutritive, but also tasty.
But, for nutrient intake, the vegetable broth is the best.

The recommended dish for this vegetable dashi is vegetable soup.

Ingredients4 servings
Cooking Time30 minutes
vegetable scraps dashi


1 litre/1000 cc
・Vegetable scraps such as
cut-ends, skins, and cores of
radish, cabbage, onion,
carrot, celery, etc.
About the amount
of your two palms

 How to Make

Pour the water into a pot, then turn on the heat.
Pour a teaspoon of cooking sake/cooking liquor and the scraps of vegetables into the pot.
Boil for 30 minutes with a not to strong heat, just slighty boiling heat.
After the color comes out in the soup, take the vegetable scraps with kitchen paper or strainer.
If you feel the taste is too light, add a little bit of shoyu (soy sauce) and accent it with coarse pepper.

Vegetarian Dashi

This is a soup a vegetarian dish that does not use animal ingredients.

It's a dashi made with dried shiitake mushrooms, kombu, kanpyo (dried gourd strips), soybeans, etc.

It's a suitable dashi for dishes that you would like to bring out the original taste of the ingredients, and boiled vegetables.

Ingredients4 servings
vegetarian dashi


・Cold water
1 litre/1000 cc
10 grams
dried gourd strips
1 piece
・Hoshi shiitake/
Dried shiitake mushrooms
10 grams
15 grams

 How to Make

Before preparing the soup stock, lightly roast soybeans in a frying pan to bring out the fragrance.
Soak all of the ingredients in water and leave overnight (one night).
Boil the already soaked ingredients with high heat until just before boiling,
after that, boil for about 20 minutes on medium heat.
Drain the ingredients from the soup with cloth, kitchen paper, or strainer, and the dashi is completed!

Dashi Powder

If you don't have time to make your own dashi, don't worry! You can always use dashi powder.

Dashi powder is a powdered dashi, flavor ingredients are powdered and dried together with salt, sugar, and seasonings.

Dashi powder can save a lot of your time.

You just have to add it in hot water, and the dashi is ready. Very convenient, isn't it?

More over, you can make dashi even during cooking another dishes by sprinkling dashi powder over the food while cooking.

Combining familiar seasonings and ingredients at home, you can easily make your favorite instant dashi!

For example:

  • ① Chinese-style soup: grated ginger + sesame oil + salt
  • ② Asian soup: Nam pla + sesame oil + coriander
  • ③ Italian soup: grated cheese + tomato ketchup
  • ④ Japanese style soup: umeboshi + nori
  • ⑤ Quick miso soup: miso paste + wakame seaweed

But, there are many types of instant dashi powder that have chemical seasoning additives.

Here, in Kawashima the Japan Store, we have dashi powder with zero chemical seasoning, additive-free, and made from 100% vegetable.

With zero animal ingredients, it is a healthy and vegan-friendly dashi powder.

Please check the recommended products section below this article or click this button below!

Here is the Recommended Products for Dashi

How to Use Dashi

When you hear the word dashi, what's the dished that you automatically associated with it?
Is it miso? Or nabe?

Some of you might just know that dashi is identical with miso, or nabe, or just few Japanese dishes.

But actually, dashi can be used for a wide range of dishes!

A kind of dashi might be most suitable for a dish while the others not.

Here we give you a list of already introduced dashi and the most suitable dishes to use it for!

Type of Dashi Ingredients Usually used for
Katsuo Dashi Katsuobushi Clear broth soup
Miso soup
Nimono (simmered dish)
Chawanmushi (Japanese egg custard)
Broth for nabe (hot pot)
Broth for noodle
Kombu Dashi Kombu seaweed Nimono (simmered dish)
Nabe (hot pot)
Combination of Katsuo and Kombu Dashi Katsuobushi and kombu Clear broth soup
Miso soup
Nimono (simmered dish)
Chawanmushi (Japanese egg custard)
Soup for nabe (hot pot)
Soup for noodle
Niboshi Dashi Niboshi (Japanese dried anchovy/sardine) Miso soup
Ramen soup
Shiitake Dashi Hoshi shiitake (dried shiitake mushroom) Broth for sōmen
Yaki-ago Dashi Yaki-ago (grilled flying fish) Soup for udon
Ramen soup
Nimono (simmered dish)
Vegetable Scraps Dashi Vegetable Scraps (such as cut ends, skins, and cores of vegetable) Miso soup
Nimono (simmered dish)
Vegetable soup
Vegetarian Dashi Hoshi shiitake, kombu, kanpyo (dried gourd strips), soybeans, etc. Simmered vegetable dish

How to Preserve Dashi

When you are busy, preparing dashi will take time, so it's convenient to just make more and keep it in stock.

Although dashi is best used immediately after you made it, you can also preserve dashi for later use.

You can store dashi for 2-3 days in the refrigerator and about 3 weeks in the freezer.

Since it will be damaged immediately when stored at room temperature, when storing for a long time, be sure to store the dashi in a refrigerator or freezer.

There is almost no difference in the storage period due to the type of soup stock.

Normally, if the salt concentration is high, it will last longer, but normal soup does not contain salt enough to delay spoilage, so we recommend you to use it as soon as possible.

Health Effects of Dashi

Generally, the dashi improves symptoms of shoulder stiffness, visual fatigue, dry and rough skin conditions, and mood status such as fatigue, vigor, and tension-anxiety.

Collectively, the dashi has beneficial effects on fatigue/stress-relating symptoms. Since insufficient blood circulation has been found to lead to the development of various symptoms relating fatigue such as shoulder stiffness and neck pain, improvement of peripheral blood flow, and blood fluidity after dashi ingestion may be involved, at least in part, in decreased fatigue-related symptoms. (source)

But the health benefits of dashi broth depend on what your dashi is made from.

Here are the health benefits of some of the dashis.

※ Katsuo Dashi (Dried Bonito Broth)

dried bonito katsuo dashi health effect

Katsuo Dashi (Dried Bonito Broth) which is made from katsuobushi, the distinct umami flavor of katsuobushi comes from its “inosinic acid” content. The high energy produced by the inosinic acid activates body cells. This will lead to anti-aging effect.
With katsuo dashi, you can enjoy the umami flavor and helps you stay young.

Katsuobushi is also really rich in amino acids that the human body cannot produce which are fundamental to keep your body healthy, and crucial for how in the production of strong teeth and bones. It also has low fat content.

Some research also shows that katsuo dashi may improve the mood states, may reduce mental fatigue (fatigue relief effect), and may increase performance on a simple calculation task. (source)

The daily ingestion of this broth also lower systolic blood pressure, reduce levels of a urinary oxidative stress marker, and improve emotional states. (source)
It might improve mental condition by increasing blood flow; that is, by enhancing peripheral circulation. (source)

※ Kombu Dashi

kombu dashi health effects

Kombu Dashi, which is made from kombu, has a lot of minerals. The iron content in kombu helps prevent both iron deficiency and anemic symptoms, its iodine content can improves thyroid function, and the fucoidan in kombu might be a possible trea