Sunday, August 22, 2010

Making dashi stock with Donabe

I make dashi stock in the morning. I normally soak the dashi konbu (dry kelp) in a bowl overnight, transfer the konbu with the soaking water into the donabe (classic-style all-purpose donabe), and immediately start heating it when I get up. You can, of course, make the dashi stock by using a regular pot. But to me (and to most of serious Japanese chefs), donabe can make the best dashi stock. It's the way this traditional clay pot distribute the heat inside to infuse the konbu flavors...donabe does the even distribution of the heat and makes the really nice "complete" flavor of dashi stock. (Sorry, it's really hard to explain by words, but I know so by the aroma and taste.)

Over medium+ heat, konbu is infused and removed before the water starts boiling.

Shaved dry fish mix (from Kyoto) is added. (For a different version, I also use my special "Hongare-bushi" dry bonito by hand-shaving it right before adding to the broth. In this case, I add the shaved bonito right before turning off the heat and let it sit for about 2-3 minutes - until the shaved bonito sink in the bottom - then strain.)

After 3-4 minutes of simmering (shaved fix mix is good for simmering to infuse), I turned off the heat and strained the broth into a bowl. This is the pure dashi stock. You can find the full recipe of basic dashi stock making on toiro's website.

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The used konbu and shaved fish are never wasted in my kitchen. I thinly sliced the konbu and minced the shaved fish, then simmered them together in a small amount of water (to make the konbu softer and also to infuse more flavors). Once the water is reduced to almost nothing, I added some Japanese sea salt, black sesame seeds and drizzled some sesame oil and stirred with the mixture. After cooking down, the mixture is transferred to a container. This is my homemade "furikake" (seasoned topping) for rice. It tastes really nice with a freshly cooked donabe rice. You can keep it in the fridge for a few weeks.

Happy donabe rice.