Japanese cooking is all about the seasoning and sauces. One of the most common soup stocks is primary bonito stock or Ichiban Dashi(一番だし). Bonito is another name for shipjack tuna, in Japanese, katsuo(カツオ). The fish has a strong, salty flavor and is eaten seared or in sushi and sashimi, but more commonly, is dried and cut into thin flakes and used in seasonings.
Instant, granulated bonito stock is commonly used, but here is a simple recipe to make it yourself. Basically, it's made by cooking kelp(konbu) and bonito flakes. The stock can be used immediately in cooking, or refrigerated and used later.
- 4 cups water
- 4 inch(10 cm) piece of kelp(Konbu)
- 1-1/2 to 2 cups loose bonito flakes(katsuo-bushi, hana-katsuo, kezuri-bushi)
- 1/3-1/2 oz.(10-15g) dried wakame seaweed
- Do not wash kelp, as the white powder contains much of the flavor. Instead, wipe both sides of kelp with a damp cloth and cut 1/2 inch(1-1/2cm) slits at 1 inch(2-1/2cm) intervals.
- Add cold water to a medium saucepan. When water is warm(100°F/38ºC) add kelp. Cook over medium heat and remove kelp just before water boil.
- Add bonito flakes to kelp broth and raise heat. When broth begins to boil, remove pan from heat immediately. Skim off any foam.
- Allow 2-3 minutes for flakes to settle to the bottom. Pour broth through a cheesecloth lined strainer to remove bonito flakes. Do not squeeze the cheesecloth. The broth should be nearly clear.