Monday, September 29, 2008

9/27/08: Dashi Lecture at MTC Restaurant Show

One of the seminars held during Mutual Trading Restaurant Show was the presenation on Dashi, the Japanese stock. Dashi is one of the key ingredients that give Japanese cuisine its identity. Dashi is used in anything from base for miso soup, noodle soup, to dipping sauce for tempura.

Dashi is rich in the savory flavor/sensation called "umami." Umami is present in such food as tomato, chocolate, and fermented food such as cheese, miso, and of course, saké. On a side note, Dashi was the inspiration for the invention of flavor enhancer, monosodium glutenate (MSG).

Presenting Dashi to the audience was Mr. Masato Nishihara, who has served spent 10 years in the kitchen of Arashiyama Kitcho in Kyoto, Japan. His new restaurant "Kajitsu" in East Village is scheduled to open in January, 2009.

Chef Nishihara holds the dried kombu kelp used to make Kombu Dashi. Selection of kombu is essential, as current movement and mineral content affect the quality and flavor; the best ones are off the coast of Hokkaido.

Kombu Dashi is made strictly with kombu. To make his Dashi, Mr. Nishihara soaks his kombu overnight (recipe to follow). The flavor provided a gentle remider of the sea.

Bonito shaving is added to kombu dashi to make Katsuo Dashi. Here, a moderator/translator Harris Salat of The Japanese Food Report holds the cured bonito, before shaving. (Note the amount of dashi-centric articles at The Japanse Food Report.)

Katsuo Dashi, noticeable darker than Kombu Dashi. This is also known as "Ichiban Dashi," or the first dashi. Flavor-wise, there was smokiness and meatiness, reminiscent of a bacon. (Recipe to follow.)

Next, Chef made Niban Dashi, a pressed through second infusion. While Ichiban Dashi is commonly reserved for soup, Niban Dashi is commonly used as a base for dipping sauce for noodles.

Chef made a dashi from shiitaké by soaking the mushroom overnight. While not as common as Kombu or Katsuo Dashi, Shiitaké Dashi is often used in combination with other dashi to provide earthier flavor.

Here Niban Dashi based Soba Tsuyu, a bolder flavor sauce used for dipping soba noodles. The intense color and flavor is more common in the eastern Kanto region of Japan. (Recipe to follow)

On the other hand, Tempira Tsuyu is flavor reflective of the western Kansai region. Althoguh lighter in color, Tempura Tsuyu is strongly flavored as they use Ichiban Dashi and a lightly colored soy with high sodium content.


Konbu Dashi
1 liter water
1.06 oz. Kombu

* Soak komnbu in water for 8 ~ 12 hours.


Ichiban Dashi
Kombu Dashi from above
0.70 oz Bonito Flakes

* Remove Kombu from Dashi.
* Bring Kombu Dashi to boil
* Add Bonito Flakes and boil for 30 seconds
* Turn off heat, and let stand until flakes fall to the bottom
* Strain through a fine strainer; to maintain clarity, never forcibly apply pressure.
* (Kombu and Bonito Flakes can be saved to make Niban Dashi)


Niban Dashi
Kombu and Bonito Flakes from Ichiban Dashi
1 liter water
0.18 oz Bonito Flakes

* Add water and used Kombu and Bonito Flakes to a pot, and boil
* Before water reaches boiling point, add the unsued Bonito Flakes
* Follow the same procedure as above.


Soba Tsuyu
100 ml Mirin
100 ml Koikuchi Soy Sauce
400 ml Niban Dashi
1.06 oz Bonito Flakes

* Add mirin to sauce pan, boil off alcohol
* Add soy sauce, and bring to a boil
* Add Dashi, and turn off heat once it reaches boiling point
* Add Bonito Flakes, and let stand until room temperature
* Strain through a fine strainer without forcibly applying pressure.


Tempura Tsuyu
100 ml Mirin
100 ml Koikuchi Soy Sauce
600 ml Niban Dashi

* Add mirin to sauce pan, boil off alcohol
* Add soy sauce, and bring to a boil
* Add Dashi, and turn off heat once it reaches boiling point.

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