Dashi (, だし) is a family of stocks used in Japanese cuisine. Dashi forms the base for miso soup, clear broth soup, noodle broth soup, and many simmering liquids to accentuate the savory flavor known as umami.[1] Dashi is also mixed into the flour base of some grilled foods like okonomiyaki and takoyaki.

Katsuobushi shavings before being soaked in water
Place of originJapan
VariationsKombu, shiitake, niboshi
Some common brands of packaged instant dashi


The most common form of dashi is a simple broth made by heating water containing kombu (edible kelp) and kezurikatsuo (shavings of katsuobushi – preserved, fermented skipjack tuna or bonito) to near-boiling, then straining the resultant liquid; dried anchovies or sardines may be substituted.[2] The element of umami, one of the five basic tastes, is introduced into dashi from the use of katsuobushi and kombu. Katsuobushi is especially high in sodium inosinate and kombu is especially high in glutamic acids; both combined create a synergy of umami.[3]

Granulated or liquid instant dashi largely replaced the homemade product in the second half of the 20th century. Homemade dashi is less popular today, even in Japan.[4] Compared to the taste of homemade dashi, instant dashi tends to have a stronger, less subtle flavor, due to the use of chemical flavor enhancers—glutamates and ribonucleotides.[5]


Other kinds of dashi are made by soaking kelp, niboshi, or shiitake in water for many hours or by heating them in near-boiling water and straining the resulting broth.

  • Kombu dashi is made by soaking or gently simmering kelp in water; soaking is traditional and fit for making baby food while simmering is a more modern practice. Kombu dashi becomes bitter and unpalatable when boiled.
  • Niboshi dashi is made by pinching off the heads and entrails of small dried sardines, to prevent bitterness, and soaking the rest in water. Sometimes the heads are used as not everyone finds them to be bitter, and the fish are occasionally toasted to evaporate any volatile unpleasant fishy odors.
  • Shiitake dashi is made by soaking dried shiitake mushrooms in water. Dried shiitake is preferred over fresh due to a stronger presence of savory or umami flavors.


In 1908, the unusual and strong flavor of kelp dashi was identified by Kikunae Ikeda as umami, the "fifth flavor", attributed to human taste receptors responding to glutamic acid.[6]

See also


  1. "Umami – The Delicious 5th Taste You Need to Master!". Molecular Recipes. 24 March 2013.
  2. Kaneko, Amy. Let's Cook Japanese Food!: Everyday Recipes for Home Cooking. p. 15.
  3. Hosking, Richard (2000). At the Japanese Table. Images of Asia. New York: Oxford University Press. p. 43. ISBN 978-0-195-90980-7. LCCN 00058458. OCLC 44579064.
  4. Ingredients used for making dashi at home cooking (Japanese).
  5. Ozeki, Erino (2008). "Fermented soybean products and Japanese standard taste". In Christine M., Du Bois (ed.). The world of soy. Food series. Urbana: University of Illinois Press. p. 155. ISBN 978-0-252-03341-4. LCCN 2007046950. OCLC 177019229.
  6. Lindemann, B. (2002). "The Discovery of Umami". Chemical Senses. 27 (9): 843–844. doi:10.1093/chemse/27.9.843. ISSN 1464-3553. PMID 12438211.

Further reading

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