|Bonito flakes, available at any Japanese market.|
We conclude our Japanese themed week with the sauce that’s sort of the unified field theory of Japanese cooking: dashi. It’s in everything from noodle dishes to sauces to miso soup and it cooks up in just minutes. Dashi contains two ingredients, kombu (a kind of kelp) and bonito (shaved, fermented fish flakes). It’s the backbone of Japanese cooking, but we think it’s gentle, savory character could adapt well to Western-style cooking if you use it as a substitute for vegetable stock.
Dashi only keeps a few days in the fridge, so the secret to using it regularly is to freeze half of every batch you make.
Next Friday we’ll post a recipe for vegetables simmered in dashi. This is a classic Japanese cooking technique, and we’ve become very fond of it as an alternative to our usual saute/steam/bake repertoire.
As an aside, I’m really interested in any of you who have foraged your own edible seaweed–if that’s you, please leave a comment.