When it comes to Japanese cuisine, dashi is one of the most important ingredients. This flavorful broth is used in many dishes but can be difficult to find in some areas.
If you’re looking for a dashi substitute, don’t worry – we’ve got you covered! In this blog post, we will discuss 10 delicious alternatives to dashi that will add flavor to your cooking!
Table of Contents
What is Dashi?
Dashi is a Japanese soup stock made by combining ingredients such as kelp, bonito flakes, and dried shiitake mushrooms. Dashi has been used in Japanese cuisine for centuries, and is an essential component of many classic dishes.
Its savory flavor serves as the base or foundation for soups, stews, sauces, and braises. Dashi is usually made with a combination of water and kombu, and can also be made with dried bonito flakes or shiitake mushrooms. The end result is a light, flavorful stock that adds depth and complexity to dishes.
What is Umami in Dashi?
Umami is a fifth taste, along with sweet, sour, salty, and bitter. It is also known as the “savory” and “brothy” flavor that is present in many traditional Japanese dishes. In dashi, umami comes from two key ingredients: kombu and bonito flakes (katsuobushi).
Kombu is a type of seaweed that has high levels of glutamate, which contributes to its unique flavor. Bonito flakes are made from dried skipjack tuna, and they have glutamates as well as inosinates, both of which contribute to the umami taste.
Together, these two ingredients give dashi its distinctively savory flavor. Additionally, some recipes may call for other umami-rich ingredients such as dried mushrooms or miso paste.
Best substitutes for Dashi.
Dashi is a staple in Japanese cuisine, often used as a base for soups and sauces. While it is relatively easy to find dashi in a store or to make your own, there are some great alternatives you can use if you don’t have access to authentic ingredients. Here are some of the best substitutes for Dashi:
1. Chicken Stock Powder.
Chicken Stock Powder is a great substitute for Dashi, as it can be used to add a deep savory flavor to dishes. Chicken Stock Powder has the same umami flavor that Dashi is known for, but without the need to steep kombu and bonito flakes.
It’s also much easier to store than traditional dashi, making it a great pantry staple. To use Chicken Stock Powder as a substitute for dashi, just add 1 teaspoon of powder to one cup of hot water and you’re ready to go!
It’s also a great way to add flavor and depth to soups, stews, sauces, gravies, and more.
2. Dried Bonito Shavings.
This is the most popular way to replace dashi in Japanese cooking, and it’s often referred to as “Katsuobushi”.
It’s a type of dried tuna that has been smoked over binchō-tan charcoal and then shaved into thin flakes. The flavors from this can add depth and umami to dishes like soup, stews and sauces.
3. Dried Shiitake Mushrooms stock.
Dried shiitake mushrooms can be used as a substitute for making dashi. To make the stock, add 10-15 dried shiitake mushrooms to 4 cups of water and bring it to a boil. Allow it to simmer for 30 minutes then strain the liquid from the mushrooms.
The flavorful broth resulting from this is an excellent base for soups and other recipes that call for dashi. Adding a piece of kombu, a type of kelp, to the stock can help intensify the flavor and make it more similar to traditional dashi.
4. Fish Stock.
Fish stock is a great substitute for dashi, as it has a rich and salty flavor. Fish stock can be made from any type of fish or shellfish, but smoked haddock works especially well.
To make fish stock, simmer the fish in water with aromatics like onions, celery, carrots and bay leaves. Strain off the solids and reserve the liquid before using as a substitute for dashi.
A simple and convenient alternative to traditional Dashi broth, Hondashi powder is a great way to add a delicious umami flavor to your favorite dishes.
The ingredients are made from Japanese bonito flakes, shiitake mushrooms, seaweed, and a blend of other flavors including soy sauce and salt.
It is easy to use – simply mix the powder with hot water and you will have a tasty broth in no time! Hondashi is perfect for adding to soups, stews, sauces, and more. It’s also gluten-free and vegan-friendly.
6. Instant Dashi Powder.
This product is a great alternative to traditional dashi, as it requires far less time and preparation. Instant dashi powder can be found in most Asian grocery stores, or online.
It is made of dried bonito flakes, kombu (kelp), salt, and other seasonings that make it an easy way to get the same umami flavor of traditional dashi.
Simply add hot water and stir the powder to dissolve it, and you have an instant broth that can be used in a variety of dishes.
7. Kombu Dashi.
Kombu dashi is a popular Japanese broth made with dried kelp, or kombu. It’s known for its umami-rich flavor and can be used as a substitute for the traditional fish-based dashi.
Kombu dashi is vegan-friendly and contains only two ingredients: dried kombu and water. To make kombu dashi, simply soak the dried kombu in water for at least several hours or overnight before straining out the rehydrated kombu.
Kombu dashi is great for soups, stews, and other savory dishes.
8. Kombu Tea.
A great alternative to Dashi, Kombu Tea is an edible seaweed that has a mild flavor but adds depth to many recipes. It’s also rich in minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants; making it a healthy addition to soups, stews, and other dishes.
To make Kombu Tea, steep dried Kombu in hot water for about 10 minutes. It can be used as a broth or added to dishes for flavor.
9. Mentsuyu broth.
Mentsuyu is a Japanese broth made from a mixture of sake, mirin, soy sauce and kombu seaweed. It provides a strong umami flavor to dishes and can be used as an alternative to dashi when making soup or other dishes.
Unlike dashi, mentsuyu contains no bonito flakes which makes it vegetarian and vegan-friendly. It is easy to prepare, as all the ingredients can be mixed together and heated on a stove before use.
Mentsuyu can also be purchased in either liquid or powdered form, making it even easier to use.
10. Monosodium Glutamate.
Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) is a widely used seasoning in many Asian cuisines, and it can be used as a substitute for dashi.
MSG has an umami flavor that is similar to the flavor of dashi, making it a good choice if you’re looking to replicate the same depth of flavor.
The trade-off is that MSG has a slightly saltier flavor than dashi, so you may need to adjust the salt levels in your dish accordingly.
Additionally, some people have sensitivities to MSG, so it’s important to take this into account when making substitutions.
11. Powdered Broth.
With a wide variety of flavor profiles, powdered broth is an easy-to-use and convenient substitute for traditional Dashi. Simply add the desired amount to hot water, let it dissolve, and enjoy your instant soup!
Additionally, many brands offer more health-conscious options with lower sodium levels than their standard recipes.
12. Shellfish stocks.
If you want a substitute for Dashi that does not include any fish, you can use shellfish or vegetable stock to achieve similar flavors. Use two tablespoons of shellfish stock per cup of water to create a seafood-like flavor.
Or make vegetable stocks with vegetables like mushrooms, carrots, and onions, and season with soy sauce or miso paste to give it a deeper flavor.
Another option is to use water mixed with three tablespoons of soy sauce per cup of water, which produces a light dashi-like flavor.
13. Shio Kombu [Dried Kelp].
Shio Kombu is a great substitute for Dashi and is made using dried kelp. It provides the same umami flavour as Dashi, but without the fishy aftertaste.
To use Shio Kombu in place of Dashi, simply add 1 cup of kombu to 4 cups of hot water, let it steep for 10 minutes, strain and use the liquid.
The kombu can be reused up to 4 times, making this an economical option. Additionally, Shio Kombu is vegetarian-friendly and contains many beneficial vitamins and minerals.
14. Shiro – Dashi.
This type of dashi is made with simple ingredients—kombu, bonito flakes and shiitake mushrooms. It’s a milder-tasting version of the traditional fish-based stock.
15. Soy Sauce.
Soy sauce is a popular alternative to dashi as it has a similar taste and umami flavor. It’s often used in stir-fries, soups, sauces, marinades, and other recipes that call for dashi.
While not having the same fishy flavor of traditional dashi, soy sauce is still a flavorful addition to many dishes.
It’s important to note that there are many types of soy sauces and they can vary in taste and consistency, so it is best to experiment with a few different brands to find the right flavor for you.
16. Tororo Kombu.
Tororo Kombu is a type of kelp that can be used as a substitute for dashi. It has a subtle taste and aroma, making it perfect for adding depth to dishes without overpowering other flavors.
To use this kombu, soak the strips in cold water before cooking. Once softened, you can add the strips directly to hot dishes or blend them into a soup for an instant boost of umami flavor.
Kombu is also high in natural glutamate, adding even more depth to meals. This makes it a great alternative for those who are looking for a healthier and more versatile dashi substitute.
17. White Fish.
White fish is a great substitute for Dashi. It has a mild flavor that can be easily enhanced with other ingredients, and it makes an excellent base for broths and soups. Anchovies are also often used as an alternative to Dashi.
They have a salty flavor that adds depth to dishes, plus they’re rich in healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Vegetarian versions of Dashi can be created with mushrooms like shiitake or maitake, which are packed with umami flavor and add a distinctive taste to dishes.
Can I substitute bonito flakes in dashi?
Yes, bonito flakes (katsuobushi) can be used to make dashi stock. However, it is important to note that the flavor of bonito dashi will be stronger and more intense than traditional kombu dashi. To make bonito dashi, simply heat 4 cups of water to a simmer and add 1/4 cup of bonito flakes. Allow the flakes to steep for about 10 minutes, then strain and use as desired. Bonito dashi is a great way to add umami flavor to soups, stews, sauces and marinades.
Can I substitute fish sauce for dashi?
Yes, you can substitute fish sauce for dashi. Dashi is a Japanese broth made from kombu seaweed and dried bonito flakes, and it has a distinct umami flavor that’s hard to replicate with other ingredients. Fish sauce is a pungent condiment typically made from fermented anchovies or other fish, and it can provide a similar umami taste to that of dashi. To use fish sauce as a substitute for dashi, add the same amount of fish sauce as the recipe calls for in dashi, however you may need to adjust the seasoning depending on your preference.
Can I substitute dashi with MSG?
Yes, you can use MSG as a substitute for Dashi. It will provide some of the umami flavor that Dashi is known for and is an accessible ingredient, commonly found in many grocery stores. However, it also has a strong taste that may detract from the overall flavor of your dish. Therefore, it’s best to use MSG sparingly.
What can I use instead of dashi for miso soup?
There are several alternatives to using dashi when making miso soup, such as vegetable broth, chicken or beef broth, or even plain water. For a more flavorful soup without the fishy taste of traditional dashi, try simmering kombu (kelp) strips in your liquid base for at least 30 minutes before adding the miso paste. This will add umami without the taste of fish. You can also use a combination of any of these liquids with a small amount of bonito flakes, or you may even opt for a vegan dashi made from dried mushrooms like shiitake or kombu.
- 2 pieces of kombu
- 2 cups of cold water
- 1/4 cup of bonito flakes (katsuobushi)
- To make the dashi, place the 2 pieces of kombu in a pot and add 2 cups of cold water.
- Bring to a gentle simmer over medium heat, but do not allow it to boil.
- Once the water starts to bubble around the edges of the pot, remove from heat and add 1/4 cup of bonito flakes.
- Let sit for 5 minutes, then strain through a fine-mesh strainer or cheesecloth.
- Discard the kombu and bonito flakes.
- Use your freshly made dashi in soups, sauces, or other recipes that call for a delicious umami-rich broth! Enjoy!