Top 6 Dashi Substitutes for Your Soup Stock Recipe
When cooking, it is not uncommon to find your pantry lacking specific ingredients, especially if you’ve decided to make the dish on a whim or because of a craving. What’s worse is finding that you are missing a rare or hard-to-find ingredient, such as dashi.
When this happens, your first instinct is to go out and buy the supplies you need. However, you will be happy to know that you do not have to bust out your wallet and car keys.
If you are missing dashi, you can definitely use alternatives to give you the same savory flavor.
What exactly is dashi?
While you may be using this ingredient to give a dynamic flavor to your dishes, you might be wondering what exactly it is made of. Once you know this you can recreate the component more accurately.
First off, you should know that dashi is a Japanese liquid foundation often used as a condiment and a soup base.
It is typically made from three main components: fish (specifically smoked and flaked skipjack tuna or bonito flakes), kelp or kombu and water.
Making this ingredient involves steeping bonito flakes and kombu in water for less than an hour.
Dashi Substitutes to Complete Your Dish
While making dashi is extremely fast and easy, what do you do if you don’t have bonito flakes and kombu in your pantry? Now, when replacing dashi, you want to remember that it has an umami taste.
So, you want to aim for a pleasant, savory flavor. To achieve this, here are some alternatives you can use.
1. White Fish Instead of Bonito Flakes
When choosing a substitute, always consider the base of the flavor, which in this case is seafood, particularly fish. Because of this, you can use other types of fish to recreate the umami taste.
However, remember that the original component, bonito flakes are considered a white fish. So, ensure that you use a white fish, as red meats can overpower your dish.
Some examples of fish with white meat are catfish, haddock, bass, cod and snapper. You can make stock out of white fish by simmering the head and bones along with aromatics such as onions, leeks, garlic and celery.
You can also skip the aromatics and use soy sauce and a bit of sugar instead.
2. Shellfish Instead of Bonito Flakes
Now, if you do not have white fish, but you have shellfish such as shrimp or prawns in your freezer, you can use scraps from these. This can give the signature seafood-based flavor without using fish. Just like the first substitute, you will need to sautee aromatics with your scraps. Then, just add water, bring to a boil and let simmer for one hour.
If you will notice, this takes longer to prepare than when using fish scraps. This is because it takes longer to extract the flavor from shellfish scraps.
3. Dried Seaweed
You can also create a more vegetarian- or vegan-friendly version. Remember that dashi is made from a kelp called kombu and dried fish, giving it a savory taste. You can reproduce the leafy texture of kombu by using packed fried seaweed. This will give it a seafood taste, while maintaining a light aroma and flavor.
To make this, simply soak your seaweed in water for half an hour. Then, you will need to place the pot on low heat and leave it to simmer for 10 minutes.
4. Dried Shiitake Mushrooms
Another vegetarian- or vegan-friendly substitute for the umami condiment is dried shiitake mushrooms. Shiitake mushrooms are known for their meaty and savory taste, making them a perfect replacement for dashi. If you choose to use this as a substitute, you will be glad to know that you can have your flavoring in as little as 10 minutes.
What you need to do is to soak the mushrooms in water. The soaking liquid will serve as your replacement. Just pinch the mushrooms to bring out more of the flavor. However, keep in mind that you can reuse them in order to make another bag. Just place them in a clean container and freeze.
5. Chicken Stock
If you happen to have chicken stock in your kitchen, then you do not need to worry about your flavoring. This can absolutely serve as your soup-base. While it does not offer a seafood aroma and flavor, this will bring the umami taste found in dashi.
So, if you are looking to cook Japanese dishes or you simply want to experiment using dashi but you do not have it in your pantry, then try these substitutes. They will certainly satisfy your nose and taste buds!