Addition and subtraction of soup stock ~ difference between Japanese dashi and soup stock.

In Japan, dashi stock such as kombu seaweed and bonito flakes were used for long time for the soup stock ingredients. In western world and other countries, soup stocks were developed that fits their culture such as French bouillon, Italian broth. This time, I would like to write about the uniqueness of Japanese dashi.

First of all, dashi stock is defined as an umami (savory tastes) extracted liquid made by cooking bones, meat, etc. I know, it doesn’t sound tasty at all just from the name of it. In a few words, it is said that Japanese dashi is subtraction of tastes and other soup stocks are addition of the tastes. Soup stocks in country other than Japan usually use many different ingredients at once and stew for long time to extract the different components of tastes such as fattening, gelatin and such. By doing so, soup stock will have complex and depth in their tastes.


Making chicken stock / WordRidden

On other hand, Japanese dashi stock only uses 2 ingredients at most. Whem making kombu seaweed dashi, kombu kelp is taken out from the water before it reaches to boil so that only umami is extracted. Even when two ingredients are used to make dashi, typically bonito or shiitake mushroom, which has low fat, is being used so that it will not distract the taste of umami yet adding the smell. Especially when ichiban dashi, famous for its clearness and scent, is made, bonito flakes are taken out of water within a minute after they have added so that only umami and scent is extracted.

Furthermore, whenever you make dashi or any type of boiling is involved in Japanese cuisine, scum is skimmed off so that only umami and nothing else is extracted. However, you would almost never skim out scum in soup stock out side of Japan because that is where all the palatable part is. Japanese food prefers s clarity and sharp umami even if it sacrifices depth and complexity. In western world to obtain complexity and depth in their tastes, more ingredients are added, but in Japanese dashi, it’s like a subtraction to extract umami.

Japanese cuisine has used wide variety of food and utilizes unique ingredients caused people to cook food that fits the climate. This caused unique dashi uses from other part of worlds.