Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Making Dashi Stock with Donabe

Every Saturday, I make dashi stock with my classic-style donabe. I wish I could make my own dashi stock every day, but during the week, I sometimes have to use the dashi "tea" bags for the short-cut (after coming back from work, I don't have time for soaking the combu for 2 hours to make my own dashi).

Living in Los Angeles, I hear many American people think cooking Japanese dishes is difficult because making dashi stock is difficult. That's true, if you want to make the real artisanal dashi stock like the professional Japanese chefs do. But making the home-style "rustic" dashi is VERY EASY (you don't even need a knife to chop anything) and it's really nothing is better than cooking with your own dashi stock!!

Also, by making the dashi with donabe, with the slow even cooking, you can achieve the dashi with the deep flavor filled with umami. Personally, I think I make awsome dashi with donabe;-)

So, I hope more American people will try making dashi with the donabe and start to enjoy cooking Japanese dishes.

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First thing I do is to infuse the dashi konbu (dry kelp) with pure water for 2 hours. (You can cut the soaking time for as short as 30 minutes, but the longer soaking can achieve the better flavor.) The kelp will grow really big in the water. If a piece grows to big to fit the donabe, you can just cut it into half with scissors.

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Put it over medium-heat. Once you think it's close to boiling, remove the kombu. Then, add the fish flakes and wait until they rest in the bottom after turning off the heat.

For your "perfect" dashi, you want to strain it through the strainer and fine mesh cloth. For my "rustic" style, I don't use the cloth, so it will leave a small amount of residue in the bottom. As long as I don't stir, the residue stays in the bottom when I use the dashi stock. So it's just fine with me. Freshly made dashi stock should be kept in the fridge and used within 2-3 days.

You can find the complete recipe on toiro's website. So, please check it out.

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Don't throw away the kombu used for making dashi! You can put the "used" kombu in the ziploc and keep in the fridge for a few days. I often slice them and add to a stir-fry, or add a square piece to Kamado-san (the double-lid rice cooker donabe) when cooking the rice. You just need to put it on the rice with water and cook normally. Even though it's used once, the kombu can still infuse the soothing flavor and your rice can taste upgraded by cooking with the kombu. What to do with the kombu after used for cooking the rice? I just snack on it!