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Kombu dashi soup stock

Kombu seaweed is used mainly for dashi soup stock, the basic stock for many Japanese soup dishes as well as simmered dishes.

The basic method for making kombu dashi is very simple. But there are a few important things to note and for best results, it is vital to pay attention to the details:

First, DO NOT WASH the kombu seaweed. Just wipe it gently with a damp cloth if you feel you need to clean it. Unless you buy really cheap kombu seaweed that comes with sand and all, they acually come very clean and there is no need to wash or wipe. The white "powder" on its surface is natural salt and ok to eat.

Second, DO NOT OVERCOOK the kombu seaweed. This is not like a meat bone stock, where the longer you cook, the better the flavor. At most the kombu seaweed should be simmered on very low heat for no longer than 5 minutes, But most Japanese chefs don't even recommend this. Instead, they say to remove the kombu just before the water reaches a boil.

Before we go into the details of how to prepare a good kombu dashi soup stock, let's look at the different variations and what they are commonly used for:

Basic kombu dashi



  1. Soak the kombu in the water for 20 minutes.
  2. Leaving the pot uncovered, slowly heat up the water until it nearly boils, when small bubbles form at the side of the pot.
  3. Remove the kombu seaweed. Set it aside for other dishes, or for a second dashi soup stock.

Kombu dashi with bonito


  1. Make basic kombu dashi as above.
  2. After removing the kombu (in step 3 above) add 1/2 cup dried bonito flakes.
  3. Skim off any foam that rises to the surface. Turn off heat and let it sit until bonito flakes sink to the bottom of the pot. Stfrain through in a colander. Keep the bonito flakes for a second round of dashi (below).

Kombu dashi with bonito - round 2


  1. Place the leftover kombu and bonito flakes from the first dashi in a pot.
  2. Add 2 1/2 cups cold water and heat slowly over a low fire.
  3. When bubbles starts to form at the sides, add another 1/4 cup bonito flakes. Skim off any foam that rises to the surface. Simmer for 3 to 4 minutes, turn off heat and strain.

Kombu shiitake dashi



  1. Soak the kombu in 3 cups water for 20 minutes.
  2. Soak shiitake mushrooms separately in 2 cups water for 30 minutes or longer until mushrooms are soft. Strain and reserve the water, leaving behind any sediments. Cut mushroom finely.
  3. Place kombu and shiitake into a pot, together with the soaking liquids. Leaving the pot uncovered, slowly heat up the liquid. When small bubbles form at the side of the pot, remove the kombu seaweed.
  4. Continue to simmer the mushrooms for another 10 minutes. Strain in a colander.

Click here for other ways to use kombu, apart from dashi soup stock.

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