Tuesday, February 19, 2013

How to Make Japanese Dashi Stock (Ichiban & Niban Dashi)

My family loves eating Japanese food very much, and during weekends, it is common for us to dine in a Japanese restaurant for lunch. Other than the occasional beef teriyaki, hambagu or cold soba, I very rarely cook Japanese at home.During the BBW Sale last year, I got a cookbook called "Japanese Bible" and vowed to learn some Japanese basics so that I can cook more Japanese for my family.

One of the first things I learnt to make is dashi stock, as this is a key ingredient in Japanese cooking. It is the foundation of most soups as well as simmered dishes. A quality dashi will ensure that the other ingredients will complement each other in flavour, texture and appearance.

Basic dashi stock

The most common dashi is called awase dashi and is made from kombu (edible kelp) and katsuobushi (thin shavings of dried bonito flakes). Umami is introduced into dashi from the use of katsuobushi, since it is high in sodium inosinate. Both kombu and dried bonito flakes can be obtained easily from Jusco MidValley.

Using the recipe from the book, I made a basic dashi (ichiban dashi) as well as secondary dashi (niban dashi). According to the book, basic dashi has a fresh, refined and distinctive 'Japanese" flavour which is usually used for soups. Secondary dashi has a stronger flavour and is mainly used for stews and noodle dishes. The dashi stock will keep for up to 7 days in the fridge.

Other than making it from scratch, I sometimes use dashi sachets which I also got from Jusco MidValley (brand is TopValu). It takes about 5 minutes and saves a lot of time when I need to prepare dinner quickly. Since the instructions on the packet was in Japanese, I referred to my friend Nami's blog to confirm the steps.

Once you know how to make dashi stock, then you can use it in many Japanese dishes such as miso soup, noodle broths, as well as soba tsuyu.

Dashi Stock I (Basic Dashi - Ichiban Dashi)
Preparation time: 5 minute
Cooking time: Depends on your hob
Makes 1l

10cm (4-inch) length of kombu (kelp)
1 1/2 cups (30g) dried bonito flakes
1.5l + 1/4 cup cold water

1. Place 1.5l cold water and the kombu in a large pot over medium high heat. Just before the water comes to the boil (ie when u see first bubbles forming), remove the kombu and reserve it to make dashi stock II. (Please see note)


2. Bring water to the boil, then quickly add 1/4 cup cold water to reduce the temperature quickly. Add the bonito flakes, increase the heat to high and return to a rapid boil. Remove from the heat immediately.

3. Allow the bonito flakes to settle and sink to the bottom of the pot. Strain the liquid through a fine mesh sieve lined with muslin (reserve the bonito flakes to make dashi stock II).

A. The kombu (from Step 1) and bonito flakes (from Step 3) can be stored in separate sealed contained in the fridge for 2-3 days.
B. Do not allow stock with kombu (Step 1) to boil, or to boil longer than 2-3 seconds when the bonito flakes are added (step 2) as it will become bitter.

Dashi Stock II (Secondary Dashi - Niban Dashi)
Makes about 750ml

Kombu (kelp) and bonito flakes reserved from dashi stock I
Extra 3/4 cup (15g) dried bonito flakes

1. Place 1.5l cold water in a large pot and add the reserved kombu and bonito flakes. Bring to the boil over high heat, then immediately reduce heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes or until stock is reduced by half.

2. Remove from heat and sprinkle the extra bonito flakes on top. Allow the flakes to settle to the bottom, then strain the stock through a muslin-lined strainer. Discard the kombu and bonito flakes.

Making dashi using sachets
Cooking time: 3-5 minutes
Makes 600ml

600ml water
1 (9g) dashi sachet

1. In a medium saucepan, add water and dashi packet. Over medium high heat, bring to the boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to medium low and simmer for 5 minutes.

2. Discard the packet and dashi stock is ready to use.

*Recipe for miso soup here.


  1. I generally just use the dashi stock sachet haha. Should try making it with this method next time, since I'm out of dashi powder.

  2. ooh, sounds like quite a convenient, fuss-free process :D

  3. HI Yen! I do not cook much Japanese food... but agree that good stock is the key to good Japanese cooking! I also follow Nami's blog (Just one cookbook) closely for any Japanese cooking recipes and tips.

  4. Actually we have few cookbooks at home. But.... so far didn't try anything from these book yet, hahaha. :P

  5. Hmmm...not really a fan of Japanese food, and the soups...even less. But I did hear that the miso soup at the restaurants here isn't nice as they use all those pre-mixed, pre-packed packet stuff. In the authentic restaurants, they use natural ingredients starting from scratch and the miso soup is very much nicer. I tried and true enough, it was nicer...but no, I'm still not a fan. LOL!!!

  6. Most of the Japanese food requires dashi. If you cook Japanese food regularly..it would be nice you prepare your own dashi. More fresh.. no preservative as well. Thanks for sharing ;-)

  7. I saw this on Nami's blog and thought to myself how I never really thought to make this myself until she showed how easy it was. You did a great job! :D

  8. What do you do with the leftover Kombu and Bonito flakes? Can we make something out of that?

    1. Usually it's just discarded... but I eat the kombu just like that. Haha!

  9. Need to try making that sometime :D Gonna hit the local Jusco here later this week .

  10. so clever one.. i just buy mine! hah

  11. Yen, thank you so much for the kind mention here. Dashi is easy to make, but sometimes it's just one step that we need to do prior to cooking something... bu the homemade dashi definitely tastes more delicious than powder kind. :)


Please drop any comments or questions you may have here. Thank you so much for reading!


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