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Dashi: The essence of Japanese cuisine

July 4, 2016

This all important soup stock is at the heart of Japanese cuisine, lending subtle depth to a wide range of dishes. Dashi is a key to delicious food that's good for you.

Complex but simple

Unlike Western or Chinese basic stocks that involve simmering meat, seafood or vegetables for hours on end to extract every last drop of flavor, a delicious dashi stock can be made in less than half an hour with just water and a couple of dried ingredients. Although the process differs slightly from one ingredient to the other, the idea is to briefly simmer dried seafood or vegetables to extract just the umami and nothing else.

The result is a stock that is light in body but rich in umami, enhancing the taste of just about anything.

Free of salt and fat

Various kinds of instant dashi products are available on the market, but like instant stock cubes they tend to have a high salt content. So do try making dashi from scratch; it's so easy, and the flavor and aroma cannot be matched by the instant kind. "Real" dashi is also free of salt and fat, which is probably why it is one of the first things given to babies to wean them off mother's milk.

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