Japanese Name and Pronunciation:

dashi in Japanese


Dashi is a fundamental ingredient in Japanese cuisine, often described as the “building block” of flavor. It is a broth or stock that serves as the foundation for many traditional Japanese dishes. Dashi is known for its light and savory taste, which enhances the flavors of other ingredients without overpowering them.

There are three umami components that have long supported Japan’s culinary culture: katsuobushi (inosinic acid), kombu (glutamic acid), and shiitake mushrooms (guanylic acid). These are often referred to as the “Three Great Dashi of Japan,” and when used together, they have a synergistic effect that enhances the overall umami flavor.

The Common Types of Dashi

Kombu Dashi


This dashi is made by soaking dried kelp, known as kombu, in water. Kombu is rich in natural glutamates, which impart a subtle umami flavor to the broth. Kombu dashi forms the base for many vegetarian and seafood-based dishes.

Katsuobushi Dashi


Katsuobushi is dried and fermented bonito (a type of fish) that is shaved into thin flakes. Katsuobushi is rich in inosinic acid, an umami taste. Katsuobushi dashi is made by steeping these flakes in hot water. The resulting broth has a stronger and more pronounced umami flavor, making it a popular choice for heartier dishes.

Shiitake Dashi

dried shiitake

Dried shiitake mushrooms are prized for their natural guanylic acid content, which contributes to the umami taste. To make dried shiitake mushroom dashi, dried shiitake mushrooms are soaked in water until they become plump and rehydrated. The mushrooms are then simmered in the soaking liquid to extract their flavors and create the broth. The resulting liquid is strained to remove any impurities, leaving behind a clear and flavorful mushroom broth. The rich flavor of shiitake mushroom dashi makes it suitable for use in cooked rice, simmered dishes, noodle soup base, vegetarian cuisine, etc.

Awase Dashi

Awase dashi is a combination of both kombu and katsuobushi dashi, resulting in a well-rounded and balanced broth. By combining the two, the umami flavors are enhanced, creating a versatile dashi that can be used in a wide range of Japanese recipes.

Dashi is not only used as a base for soups and broths but also as a flavor enhancer in various dishes such as stews, sauces, marinades, and simmered dishes. It provides a subtle depth of flavor and a harmonious balance to the overall taste of the dish.

The art of making dashi involves careful attention to ingredients, proportions, and cooking time to extract the desired flavors. While instant dashi granules and stock powders are available, many Japanese professional chefs prefer to make their own dashi from scratch to achieve the freshest and most authentic taste.

Dashi is an essential component of Japanese culinary traditions, contributing to the distinctive flavors and umami richness that are characteristic of Japanese cuisine. Its versatility and ability to enhance the natural flavors of ingredients make dashi a vital element in creating delicious and authentic Japanese dishes.