Steamy Dreamy Dashi
It’s the easiest cooking liquid ever. It’s tasty and briny-earthy. It’s not pretty but considering the process it’s one of those miracles that make me love cooking. Lush and simple. It’s liquid umani- not vegetarian, but not too intense. Dried skipper-jack shavings (bonito) and seaweed (kombu) broth. It’s a new flavor profile around here so it must be eased into the menu. With so many health benefits and the easy peasy intensity adjustments (just add water) it’s worth a close look. There are vegetarian versions with seaweed and dried mushroom broth. Easy. Believe me, it’s on the list!
Yesterday, it was cold outside and the broth made it warm and soupy inside. The steamy kitchen intensified the unfamiliar smell of the ocean in the house. The process went over quite well with the canine crew. They apparently already knew about bonito! I am fascinated with these ingredients, so curious to taste them!
Here’s what you do: Wipe the dry seaweed gently with a damp cloth. Bring some filtered water in a stock pot and soak the seaweed for a few hours at room temperature. Remove scum from the surface as it forms. After a while, bring the water and sea veg to a boil. Immediately remove from the heat and remove kombu. Reserve seaweed. Skim any scum. It tastes like it sounds.
Bring the skimmed seaweed broth up to a simmer and add the bonito flakes. Stir to incorporate them. When the bonito comes to a boil reduce to a simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow fish to steep for 15 minutes. Remove any scum that forms on the surface. Pour broth thru a fine sieve lined with cheese cloth. Don’t squeeze the bonito. Tie the cheese cloth into a bundle. Use your bundle to make a second batch with the cheese cloth “tea bag” of bonito and the same seaweed from the first soak. The second soak is delicate and light. I can’t imagine a better go-to broth than this. It comes together quickly and is much more than the sum of its parts. Keep it in the fridge a few days. Freeze your leftovers. One day you might need magic in a hurry!
I am trying to think what I can’t do with it!!