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出汁 Dashi

出汁Dashi

Dashi is a flavoring stock that is the basis of the "umami" (meaning savory taste) at the heart of Japanese cuisine.

The most common four types of ingredients in dashi stock are katsuobushi (dried bonito shavings), konbu (dried kelp), niboshi (dried sardines), and hoshi-shiitake (dried shiitake mushrooms). Each ingredient has the following attributes.

• Katsuobushi: Bonito fillets that are dried thoroughly after boiling. It is known as one of the hardest food ingredients in the world. Thinly shaved katsuobushi is used to make dashi stock.
• Konbu: A type of seaweed. The black dried kelp is used in the form of sheets to make dashi stock.
• Niboshi: Small fish such as sardines that are dried after heating.
• Hoshi-shiitake: Dried shiitake, which is the most popular mushroom in Japan.

Dashi

Dashi stock is prepared by soaking and simmering one or more of the above ingredients in boiling water. In particular, the combination of katsuobushi and konbu is the most common way of making dashi stock.

In scientific terms, the umami essence of the katsuobushi flavor is inosinate, while that of the konbu flavor is glutamine. When these two ingredients are combined, the savory taste becomes far more enhanced than dashi stock made only with one type of ingredient.

Dashi stock made of niboshi has a stronger taste (fish flavor) than dashi stock made of katsuobushi, even though the main umami essence of niboshi and katsuobushi is the same (inosinate).

The umami essence of hoshi-shiitake is guanylate. Fresh shiitake contains almost no guanylate, which builds up when the shiitake is dried. Guanylate is an umami essence that combines well with the glutamine of konbu.

Dashi stock is indispensable as the base ingredient for 'nimono' simmered dishes and 'nabe' hotpot dishes for the Japanese people, who have traditionally eaten miso soup since long ago.

The traditional bouillon soup stock of western cuisine has a lot of fat content and a rich flavor. The dashi stock of Japanese cuisine, on the other hand, contains almost no fat. For that reason, dashi stock has a light flavor that allows the individual tastes of other ingredients to stand out even as it enhances the taste of the whole dish.

In the past, saltiness, sweetness, sourness, and bitterness were the only four commonly recognized tastes in the world. As recent gourmet studies have moved forward, umami has been accepted as the fifth basic taste. Nowadays, some chefs in Europe and America have also started to use dashi stock for cooking.

Dashi stock, which is a crucial ingredient for the flavor of Japanese cuisine, can be expected to be in the global spotlight as a healthy seasoning for bringing out the umami of foods for years to come.

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