Making Dashi from scratch is surprisingly simple and quick compared to other long simmered broths and stocks. However, many Japanese people sadly do not make it from scratch anymore but rely on instant dashi granules/powder nowadays. Those dashi granules/powders are readily available and also come in many different varieties.
What is Dashi Granules/Powder?
So with dashi granules and powder, you can make dashi instantly. It is similar to chicken or beef stock cubes but it comes in granules or powder form. When I was much younger and still living in Japan, there was only one kind of dashi named “Hondashi” available. Nowadays though, you can get all different types of dashi; Katsuo, Kombu, Shiitake, Niboshi and Awase dashi in granule form.
Where to Get Instant Dashi from?
I am sure Japanese grocery stores or Asian Grocery stores stock all sorts of different flavoured Dashi granules sachets. If you can not access these Asian Grocery stores, they are also available online at stores such as Amazon.
What to Look for ?
The downside to the convenience of instant dashi granules is that they often contain MSG and are high in sodium. I often use Awase Dashi Powder with No MSG (Bonito and Kelp Soup Stock) too. Because often buying ingredients for making dashi can be pricey when you live outside of Japan. So What I look for is a Japanese word 無添加(mutenka), which means nothing added. Also some packets might state MSG-free which is written 化学調味料は使用しておりません in Japanese.
How do you use it?
Generally speaking, you need to dissolve 1-2 teaspoons of dashi powder with 1-2 cups of hot water. The amount varies depending on what you are making and also the package. So you need to follow the direction on the packet. It is also often just sprinkled onto the dishes. For example, I sometimes sprinkle 1/4 tsp dashi granules into beaten eggs to make Tamagoyaki.
So What is a Dashi Pack?
A Dashi pack is another convenient and short cut method of making Dashi stock. The dashi ingredients such as bonito flakes and Niboshi in flake forms are packed into bags similar to tea bags (but bigger). You can also buy empty bags to make your own dashi packs. You can pack the ingredients of dashi into the bags and keep them in an airtight container for instant use.
Where To Get and How to Use Dashi Packs?
Dashi packs are also available from Japanese grocery stores and general Asian grocery stores. Katsuo and Kombu Dashi Pack (Bonito and Kelp Soup Base Bag) is available from Amazon. Generally, you need to place a pack in 2 cups of water in a saucepan over medium heat. Once the water boils, turn the heat down and let it simmer for 3-5 minutes. Or follow the packet’s instructions.
Japanese Recipes That Call for Dashi
Here are some examples of Japanese recipes that use dashi typically.
Dashi is the backbone of Japanese dishes such as Miso Soup, Udon, and Chawanmushi. I recommend to make it from scratch, but I understand how difficult it can be to get ingredients to make it from scratch. Sometimes it is just easier to get instant dashi. There are mainly 5 different types of dashi in Japanese cooking. See the following posts to make them from scratch.
- Katsuo (bonito flakes) Dashi
- Kombu (dried kelp) Dashi
- Niboshi (dried infant anchovies) Dashi
- Shiitake Dashi
- Awase (combination) Dashi
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