Two Minute Solution to Elevating Your Game | Dashi

We do a lot of Asian cooking here in Persephone’s Kitchen.  I’ve said before that I regularly whip up some version of a stir-fry noodle dish once a week.  I love them because they’re so fast and so delicious.  But I think I found a new secret weapon to really improving the flavor of my dishes.

Two ingredients that can be purchased not just at an Asian supermarket like Tensuke here in Columbus, but at Whole Foods: bonito flakes and kombu.  I know, these ingredients have been around, well, thousands of years.  But that such a simple solution to authentic flavor for my Japanese noodle dishes could be found so easily and took the addition of almost no time to dinner has just left me kind of giddy.  Yes, let’s all discuss it again: Persephone is such a nerd.  Laugh if you want, but dinner tonight took about 20 minutes and had a depth of flavor that was almost staggering.  So there.

Ichiban-Dashi with Salmon, Shrimp and Noodles, serves 2 to 3

1 six-inch piece of kombu

1/2 c bonito flakes

8 cups of water (although I used a lovely vegetable stock, water is just fine)

Soy sauce and Mirin to taste (about 5 T of soy and 3 of Mirin)

1 bundle of udon noodles (I have some that take 12 minutes, check your package, yours might take less time, add them in at the right time)

1/3 pound salmon

1/3 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined

1 carrot, peeled and sliced into thin batons

3 green onions, thinly sliced on the diagonal

1/4 c shiitake mushrooms, torn or sliced into small pieces

3 inch piece of daikon radish, peeled and sliced into thin batons

2  ribs of bok choy, thinly sliced

Sesame seed oil, optional

In wide, deep pan, add the water and the kombu.  Over medium heat, bring to a boil.  Add the bonito flakes.  Turn off the heat, let the flakes settle to the bottom of the pot.  Strain the solids and return to the same pan.  Add in the soy sauce and mirin.  Taste and adjust seasoning. Bring up to a nice low simmer: bubbles, but not boiling away like mad.  Set a timer for 12 minutes.  Add in the salmon and udon.  At ten, add the carrots.  At eight, add the green onions and mushrooms.  At six, add the bok choy ribs, reserving the leafy greens. At five, add the shrimp. At four, add the daikon and remove the salmon to remove the skin, if you have a piece with skin, and flake into large pieces.  Return to the pan.  At two, add in the green tops from the bok choy.  Simmer the rest of the time.  Taste for seasoning and add a bit more mirin or soy if you think it needs it.  I added a few drops of sesame seed oil just before serving.

Divide between bowls and slurp loudly.  It’s only polite.

Playlist included Wait Up (Boots of Danger), by Tokyo Police Club.


6 thoughts on “Two Minute Solution to Elevating Your Game | Dashi

  1. When I was pregnant with Lil, a Japanese woman stayed with us for two weeks. She made many broths with bonito, kombu, and lots of other dried sea treasures. I could not handle the strong flavors as a pregnant woman but now I really wish I had paid more attention to what she was doing!

    1. I was so surprised at how authentic the flavor of the broth was with the short soak and simple addition of these two ingredients! Amazing. I’m sad that you don’t have some recipes from her! That would have been great.

  2. My girls love udon noodles too!

    We cook the soup separate from the noodles. We’d cook the veggies, fish cake etc in the dashi, and pick them out as they cooked. The cooked noodles would be drained, portioned into bowls, and we’d layer the cooked items.

    My father would also make “tamago toji” or bring the soup to a boil, and slowly pour in a lightly beaten egg. Once the egg floated up, cooked, he would gather the egg with a spoon and place on top of the noodles and veggies. Then he’d pour the soup over everything, and garnish with chopped scallion.

    If you are adventurous, you can also drop a very fresh, organic egg into the hot broth. We would cover it with the noodles, and by the time we finished all the noodles and veggies, the egg was lightly poached. My mother would mix the egg with everything at the very beginning. My father and I would finish everything BUT the egg and broth, and we’d swallow the entire egg with the soup. My brother does a variation of both.

    Of course, with all the salmonella scares etc., I rarely do this anymore, but on occasion, I enjoy a flashback to my childhood weekend lunches.

    1. I love when you post comments. You are such a treasure with information! I was going to make a Japanese egg noodle soup tonight for dinner, but since you posted this comment, I will make the tomago toji for dinner tonight. Do any veggies work I was going to use some bok choy and the daikon. Wish I had carrots, but this is a make it work moment.

      1. Sorry didn’t have a chance to revisit earlier. I love your blog – it’s so elegant, and so interesting! Thank you for your kind words.

        We tend to use anything seasonal, and blanch very quickly to keep the crunch. In my family, we would cut carrots into slices, and cook them long enough in the dashi. Also 1 inch pieces of scallions – cooked until the green is brilliant. We also add chopped scallions (about 2 mm wide) at the end for garnish. We also use alot of napa cabbage, spinach. Bok choy works wonderful as well. Daikon slivers are great – I personally am a fan of daikon that has been cooked until translucent. Something very comforting about simmered daikon.

        As a twist, you can also grate daikon and add into the hot soup. I’ve always been told daikon aids with digestion (and cuts down on greasiness), and we will often use it as a condiment when we make shabu shabu, or Japanese hot pot. If you’ve had agedashi dofu (deep fried tofu), they will usually serve the dish with a side of grated daikon (sometimes mixed with grated red pepper, it’s called momiji oroshi, or literally, grated maple) that you mix into the hot dashi. Grated daikon + soy sauce is a traditional condiment to certain grilled fish, such as sanma (saury).

        I digress. The tamago toji is such a comfort dish – I hope you tried or have an opportunity to try.

        Look forward to your blogs! Have a great one!

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