Posts Tagged ‘Dashi’

Amazake Oats

January 2, 2020

Almost three years ago I reported on using baseline amazake in oatmeal. Amazake (甘酒 , あまざけ) or “sweet sake” is a extremely sweet non-alcoholic drink made from the lees left over from production of sake. An instant variety (available from Amazon) comes as a small white slab, about the size of the miniature candy bars given out at Halloween, and which looks and feels like a chunk of styrofoam (it even floats). In Japan it is popular at Shinto shrines for the January 1st beginning-of-the-year celebrations. We had a few slabs left over, so I thought I’d see if they tasted any different with a different dissolving fluid.

First up was boxed chicken broth, ’cause that’s what I had on hand when the idea struck.

Experiment 1: 1/3 cup of stone ground rolled oats, one cup chicken broth, one slab of instant amazake, two dinner teaspoons of potato flakes, salt. Cook for 10 minutes or so, depending on the exact style of oats. Add the potatoes at the end.

Results: Very good. Amazakingly sweet. Chicken added a robust background.

Rating: ***

Next morning (AKA today), when my brain had caught up with my inspiration, I made a batch of dashi, using a commercial dashi-bag.

Experiment 2: 1/3 cup of stone ground rolled oats, one cup dashi, one slab of instant amazake, two dinner teaspoons of potato flakes, salt. Cook for 10 minutes or so, depending on the exact style of oats. Add the potatoes at the end.

Results: Very good. Very … Japanese. Once again, exceedingly sweet. Dashi taste was not overwhelming, but it was there. A touch of shoyu helped, but only a touch.

Rating: ***

These are too exotic to put into the regular rotation, like cake for breakfast, but now and then they make a great change. Since packaged amazake is kindof expensive ($10 for a 4-pack), I think I’ll try a field expedient recipe using leftover rice water, mirin, and sake…plus some additional sugar.

Oatmeal Dashi

March 10, 2019

I have written about using dashi in oatmeal a number of times in the past. The dashi used was either home made, from seaweed and bonito, or it was home made, from crystals out of a jar. According to a recent cooking article, the go-to staple for busy Japanese housewives is dashi-inna-teabag. You just heat up two cups or so of water (600ml to be both metric and exact), throw in a bag, and simmer for five minutes. The result is a very mild broth.

The dashibags I am using are the Yamaki Katsuo and Kombu Dashi Pack (Bonito and Kelp Soup Base Bag)1.9oz, available from Amazon, $5.48 for a sixpack as of this writing, or just under fifty cents a cup. It took almost exactly a month for them to arrive from Japan, so don’t wait until the night before.

Setup: 1/3 cup of stone ground rolled oats, one cup broth, half a teaspoon of soy sauce, salt. Cook for 10 minutes or so, depending on the exact style of oats.

Results: Very good. Very mild. Too much soy sauce. Try it without the shoyu first and then add it drop by drop.

Rating: ****

Lobster Dashi

June 23, 2016

The other day we were in a celebratory mood. Or maybe we were depressed. In any event we needed to treat ourselves, and how better than to buy a small steak and a couple of lobster tails. The steak divided, the lobsters eaten, the only thing left were the shells — to the pressure cooker! I cooked the two shells and other detritus in two cups of water, with a sprig of marjoram, on high for 30 minutes. After the broth had cooled, I put in one two-inch slab of kombu seaweed and let it soak overnight. In the morning, I heated a cup of the dashi until it was steaming, then removed the seaweed. The broth was clearly dashi, but it was distinctly different from the standard bonito-based variety.

The first morning I added a dash of shoyu. The second morning, I added a teaspoon of chopped ginger (from a jar).


Ramen alla Marinara Dashi Tonno

August 20, 2015

When I write about cooking, it’s mostly about oatmeal. Sometimes it’s about things you can put into oatmeal. And sometimes, not often, it’s about things you can put into things you put into oatmeal. This is one of those times.

I’ve written before about dashi, the seaweed/tuna broth that’s the basis for much Japanese cooking. I’ve even written about using it in oatmeal. This recipe is about using the leftovers.

As all followers of this blog know, the best way to make dashi at home is to soak one 2×2 slice of kombu seaweed, along with half a package of dried, shredded, katsuobushi tuna, in a quart of water overnight. In the morning, you heat it to the steaming point, remove the kombu, and let it cool. Then you strain out the katsuobushi, reserving it for other uses, and store the dashi in the fridge until the urge for miso cocktails strikes.

Well, one night I was just getting ready to heat the dashi mix for the next morning’s breakfast while wondering what I could do about dinner. MJ was off learning how to be a better judge of dogs, so I could experiment. There was a quarter jar of marinara sauce in the fridge that was going to go off soon. Suppose I mixed the katsuobushi tuna scrapings with the marinara sauce and put it on spaghetti? Suppose I mixed the katsuobushi tuna scrapings with the marinara sauce and put it on ramen? That would keep the Japanese influence strong, and I just happened to have half a case of ramen left from the last time I was in college.*

Setup: After leaving the dashi mix in the fridge overnight pour the entire works, broth, katsuobushi tuna, and kombu seaweed, into a two quart pot. Heat until steaming. Remove the kombu (don’t eat it, it’s like eating a wet suit ) and add a package of ramen. Ramen that is fresh-rolled by your obaa-san is best, but instant cup ramen is OK. Keep the mixture just below a simmer for five minutes. Strain the liquid — dashi plus ramen-starch — into a container. Dump the remaining ramen noodles mixed with katsuobushi tuna flakes into a bowl and cover with hot marinara sauce.

Results: Not bad. More like a good ramen lunch than a dinner. The ramen was a little dry-tasting (not crunchy-dry, just like it had soaked up all the marinara liquid). I’d do it again, but with more marinara, and, yes, spaghetti instead of ramen. The tuna mixed in nicely, for the most part. Be sure to divide up any clumps before you sauce it.

Rating: *****





Salmon-Dashi Oats

April 30, 2015

Unlike my first discussion of salmon and oatmeal (which featured a canned salmon sauce), this one is about your actual anadromiliad salmon-type fish, chopped up in the oats. Not only that, but the broth is last weeks real, home-made dashi, to which I added a couple glugs of shoyu, and a teaspoon of sugar – to turn it into teriyaki sauce.

The salmon was leftover from dinner. Nothing special — maybe a quarter cupsworth of broiled salmon, chopped up.

Setup: 1/3 cup of stone ground rolled oats, two dinner teaspoons of potato flakes, one cup of dashi, a quarter cup of salmon. Tablespoon of soy sauce and a teaspoon of sugar.  Cook for 10 minutes or so, depending on the exact style of oats.  Add the potato when you take it off the stove.

Results: Very good. Needed more sauce.

Rating: *****

Home Made Dashi

April 23, 2015

I’ve been using dashi crystals in most of my Japanese cooking, because I thought it was easier, and because the ingredients for real dashi are so hard to find. Turns out, Huckleberry’s, our locally smug organic supermarket, carries both katsuobushi tuna flakes and kombu seaweed. You could probably find them at Trader Joe’s, or any similar store or Asian market.

Kombu seaweed comes in shards, like broken plastic. It rehydrates to something that looks and feels like it came off a wetsuit.  Katsuobushi is skipjack tuna, dried and shaved. It looks like, well, dried wood shavings. They are both dried products, so they keep essentially forever (although the tuna should probably be used up soon after opening). My recipe is an amalgam of several I’ve come across, and couldn’t be simpler.

1. Take a 2″ square of kombu, rinse and wipe. Place in a quart container of water.

2. Add a grab handful of katsuboshi, call it a loose half a cup. Some recipes call for more.

3. Place in the refrigerator overnight.

4. Next morning, heat it in a saucepan until just steaming, then strain out the solids, and et voilà, as the Japanese chefs would say, you have dashi. If you want something more instant, skip the overnight part.

A more traditional way is to soak only the kombu overnight. You leave out the katsuboshi until the water is steaming, then remove the kombu, bring to a boil, add the katsuboshi, let cool, and strain. For a simpler, vegetarian dashi, just leave out the katsuboshi altogether.

The Japanese will also use the strained solids to make a second, weaker, infusion of dashi. Or, the soggy katsuboshi can be added to oatmeal, to rice, to an omelet, anywhere you would use a tablespoon or so of tuna. The kombu is edible, but I am told that dashi kombu is older and tougher than snacking kombu. You can guess the experience just by feeling it and looking at it: It tastes vaguely seafoodish, and feels like you are biting through rubber. Both are useful additions to a compost pile.


April 14, 2015

Time to use up more of that dashi. This time the secret ingredient is the stub end of a smallish daikon radish that I’d made oden with the night before.  Normally, one puts whole rounds of the daikon into a stew or soup and lets them simmer for a couple of hours, to absorb the taste.  No time for that, this is breakfast! So I just diced the daikon, dumped it into the dashi and delayed deploying the oatmeal until steaming.

Setup: 1/3 cup of stone ground rolled oats, inch or so of daikon, chopped, two dinner teaspoons of potato flakes, one cup of broth, salt.  Cook for 10 minutes or so, depending on the exact style of oats.  Add the potato when you take it off the stove..

Results:Not inedible. Not exciting. Not blended. The daikon added some crunch to the meal, but it felt like an afterthought, like seaweed sprinkled on your salad.

Rating: *****

Oatmeal Dashi

March 6, 2014

More experimenting with dashi (だし, 出汁 ), the seaweed/bonito broth used in most Japanese cooking. The symbol (出汁) for dashi is a combination of two kanji: 出, which looks like two stacked mountain symbols, means to go out, or departure (I’m leaving for over the mountains), while the 汁 symbol, which looks like it’s saying “water for ten”, means soup. So, soup you eat before going out.

I noticed that while all the dashi recipes have you remove the bonito flakes, to give a clear broth, there’s lots of uses that don’t require that. Since limpid is not a word one usually associates with oatmeal, I decided to add the bonito to the oatmeal, instead of to the dashi.

Setup: 1/3 cup of stone ground rolled oats, one cup of water from a quart jug in which a slab of kombu seaweed has been soaking overnight, two fat pinches of bonito flakes, salt.  Cook for 10 minutes or so, depending on the exact style of oats.  Add the bonito about three minutes before you take it off the stove.

Results: Very good. Mild-tasting, with just enough fish flavor to offset the bland. You can spice it up with a drop or two of soy sauce, but be very sparing.

Rating: *****

Oatmeal Dashi

September 19, 2013

Last week I talked about making my own dashi with kombu seaweed and katsuboshi bonito flakes. This week, I was out of katsuboshi, but kombu dashi is at least as traditional as the combination.

So, I simply soaked a chunk of kombu in water overnight, brought it to a boil, and let it cool. A cup of that, a dash of soy sauce, and I was ready to go.

Setup: 1/3 cup of stone ground rolled oats, two dinner teaspoons of potato flakes, one cup of kombu dashi, soy sauce.  Cook for 10 minutes or so, depending on the exact style of oats.  Add the potato when you take it off the stove.

Results: Like the previous dish, it was very good, in a mild, understated sort of Japanese way. The oat flavor came through more. I suspect there’s things that could be done using this as a base.

Rating: *****

NB: Sorry about the double posting. My scheduling software got ahead of me. The oataku adventure that was previously here but is no longer is going to have been posted sometime late next week.

Oatmeal Dashi

September 12, 2013

Two years ago, almost to the day, I did an item on using dashi, the Japanese fish broth, in oatmeal. At the time, I didn’t have a source of ‘real’ dashi, so I used bottled dashi granules. Now I find that Huckleberry’s, our local organic store, carries the fixings — Emerald Cove Pacific Kombu, and Eden Dried Shaved Bonito Flakes (katsuobushi).

There are many recipes for making dashi out on the web. Umami Nation even did some experiments with the best way to extract flavor from the kombu. No Recipes has a recipe that’s pretty much standard. I soaked my kombu and katsuobushi, plus a handful of assorted dried mushrooms, overnight in the fridge, brought it to a slow boil, simmered for ten minutes, and strained it. The resulting dashi was a lot milder than the batch I made with the granules, two years ago, and it didn’t taste nearly as fishy. What I didn’t use in the oatmeal I used to make various soups throughout the week. After making first and second dashi, I buried the used kombu and katsuobushi in the hops bed, but I’m thinking that next time I’ll use the bonito flakes as an oatmeal extender. Most of the flavor is gone, but it might add an interesting texture.

Setup: 1/3 cup of stone ground rolled oats, two dinner teaspoons of potato flakes, one cup of dashi, salt.  Cook for 10 minutes or so, depending on the exact style of oats.  Add the potato when you take it off the stove.

Results: Very good, in a mild, understated sort of Japanese way. It needed salt. I also added a measured teaspoon of soy sauce. Probably was a little too much.

Rating: *****


January 27, 2012

I had about half a measuring teaspoon of dashi powder left in the packet, and I thought I’d try adding it to about 1/3 cup of mayonnaise. You have to stir it for a bit because there’s not a lot of liquid for the grains to dissolve in, but it makes a perfect condiment for an English muffin with a bit of leftover tilapia sandwiched in.


January 13, 2012

I’m not a big fan of boxed vegetable stock* — not that I make my own, that’s way too much trouble.** We use a lot of the beef, and even more of the chicken (Kitchen Basics brand), but the veggie version just doesn’t do much for me. Maybe because there’s just a hint of a Knorr-style dried carrots and peppers taste. Maybe because there’s nothing umami about it. Recently, that changed, because I found a way to doctor up the stock so that it tastes quite good. I tried this with standard ramen noodles, and also with the thick udon noodles. Have not tried it with oatmeal yet.

1 cup Kitchen Basics vegetable stock
2 tblsp mirin sauce
1 tblsp dashi soup powder
1/2 tsp miso soup powder
1/2 tsp soy sauce

The mirin adds a touch of sweet to offset the bitter Knorr-like undertones. The rest add a rich umaminess.

If you are cooking ramen in this, I’d recommend you hold off and put the dashi powder in at the last minute.

*Yes, I know that a stock is made with bones and a broth isn’t. Vegetables have very soft bones that are hard to detect. At least, that’s what the Marketing Department tells me.
** Update 2014: Now that I have a 3-function electric pressure cooker, making broth is as easy as cutting up carrots and onions, throwing in leftover chicken or beef bones (recycle that t-bone!), and letting it run on its own for half an hour. I do this once a week, and I haven’t bought boxed stock in months.

Oatmeal Dashi

September 13, 2011

Dashi is a very mild fish broth, the basis of a lot of Japanese cooking. Where a westerner would naturally assume ‘beef’ if you just said ‘broth’, a Japanese would assume ‘dashi’.

There are many recipes and discussions on the best way to make dashi. It’s essentially dried tuna and seaweed, steeped in hot water, in the same way that coq-au-vin is just chicken stew.

There are different kinds of katsuobushi tuna flakes. There are different kinds of kombu seaweed, and it seems to matter how you cook it, which part of the seaweed you use, and where the seaweed came from. I’d call it terrior, but it’s under water.

This isn’t an entry on gourmet dashi, so I’ll just say that cooking instructions vary from dump everything in a pot and boil it to

Making Dashi

slice the bonito flakes micro-thin with a razor sharp knife or the edge of a freshly broken wineglass, drop into not quite boiling spring water, remove from heat and draw the kombo through it slowly from right to left.

Or, you can do what 90% of Japanese housewives do, and buy the granulated variety.

That’s a long introduction to a quick meal. One third of a cup of instant oatmeal. Two thirds of a cup of water. One teaspoon of dashi granules (to taste). Boil the water, add to the oatmeal and dashi. Microwave 20sec. Stir and let sit for five minutes.

Taste. Very good. Surprisingly good. Needs salt. The recipe for this brand of dashi granules is one teaspoon for 3-6 cups of water, depending on the intended use (3 for miso, 6 for noodle soup stock). I used about nine times the maximum density, but I think that’s necessary to stand up against the oats. This isn’t one of your delicate Japanese dishes sipped while gazing at cherry blossoms by moonlight. This is the sort of thing you eat after a whole day of unloading sacks of rice from ships.

Tried a bit of soy sauce. Not sure that wasn’t a mistake. Americans tend to use soy sauce like it was ketchup. It’s really more like Worcestershire, and then some. A few drops is enough. I know better, but what I thought was a small amount still tended to overpower the whole plate, and not let any other flavors come through. In future, I’ll have it on the side, and just slide the underside of my spoon through it.