I have always obsessed with Japanese food, however, I have never really cooked much of Japanese cuisine here at home (other than sushi and few other dishes). I finally found this Everyday Harumi cookbook by Harumi Kurihara. I absolutely love this cookbook (I’m not paid to say this. I wish I am lol). I always found Japanese cooking a little intimidating. Probably because when I go to Japanese restaurant we always ordered sashimi lol. Sashimi is one of the thing I would not prepare on my own at home. Too much risk and I can’t guarantee we won’t get food-borne illness from that (not that it’s 100% safe out there too, but you know what I mean). This Everyday Harumi cookbook really showed me how easy and simple it is the everyday Japanese meal at home. Seriously, very simple. There are few ingredients that I couldn’t find at our local Asian grocery store and guess what…I went ahead and ordered them online. I just love online shopping.
So, before I share all the Japanese recipes I’ve cooked from this cookbook, the first thing that I feel that it’s the most fundamental and important ingredient in most of Japanese cooking is the dashi stock. Of course you can always get a store-bought instant dashi stock, however, making your own dashi stock is seriously simple. Easier than any stock I’ve ever prepared in my life so far.
Dashi stock in general, is basically built on these two main ingredients: kombu seaweed (dried kelp) and katsuobushi (dried fish flakes).
The kombu seaweed helps to flavor the dashi stock. It looks like seaweed and it usually comes in big pieces and you can cut it to any size call for in the recipe. The seaweed itself is quite salty and so, it is often wiped with a damp cloth or lightly washed under cold running water. Katsuobushi are the shavings from a dried bonito fish. This also helps to flavor the dashi stock and other dishes.
Harumi shared in her cookbook that many people who make their own dashi stock will make what is known as ichiban dashi (the first brew) and niban dashi (the second brew). The first is usually used when you need a pure dashi flavor and the second when it is mixed with other ingredients. This habit comes from days when the katsuobushi was rare and expensive, so could not be wasted.
ICHIBAN DASHI STOCK/ THE FIRST BREW
- 2 x4 inch pieces kombu seaweed dried kelp
- 2 oz katsuobushi dried fish flakes
Put 4 cups water in a large saucepan. To remove any excess saltiness from the kombu, either quickly wash it under cold running water and then pat dry or wipe with a damp cloth. Add to the cooking water, leaving it to soak for 30 minutes
Put the saucepan over high heat and remove the kombu just before the water comes to a boil. Add the katsuobushi, bring back to a boil, and then immediately turn off the heat
Let it stand until all the flakes have sunk to the bottom of the saucepan
Pour the mixture through a strainer lined with paper towel or cheese cloth, leave to cool, and keep the dashi stock in the refrigerator until ready to use. Do not discard the used katsuobushi if you wan to make a niban dashi stock