This month’s Japan Times food article is all about dashi . Dashi has been covered on this site many times, but I wanted to write about it for the Japan Times readers because it’s so fundamental to Japanese cooking. If you have any desire to make good Japanese food, you need to know how to make dashi. Fortunately, it’s not that difficult, using the right ingredients. The article also includes a recipe for a dipping sauce you can use with any kind of cold Japanese noodles.
As usual, my Japan Times articles are written for people who live in Japan. Most of the readers of Just Hungry don’t live in Japan, so it may be a bit difficult to get a hold of some of the ingredients I talk about. Just do what you can, really - ma-konbu may not be obtainable where you are, so just get the best quality you can afford. (Good kombu is quite thick and leathery.)
The same goes for katsuobushi, or shaved bonito flakes. The ideal may be to get a whole block of dried katuo, and a special grater.
But it’s a tedious business, and it can be hard to get a hold of the whole bonito or the grater. Pre-grated katsuobushi is perfectly acceptable. Just make sure you close up the bag tightly after each use (or transfer it to an airtight container) to keep it fresher longer.