Don’t let its simplicity fool you. A well made dashi packs a wallop and is the foundation of Japanese cuisine. If you want the real deal you have to make this stuff from scratch. Possibly the easiest stock of all to make but again you will have to make a trip to the Asian grocery. Never fear though the stock only takes a couple of minutes to throw together.
Makes +- 8 cups
8 cups cold water
one 8 x 4 inch sheet kombu, kelp
one 2 1/2 inch finger of ginger, peeled and cut lengthwise into 4 slices
2 cups katsuobushi, dried bonito flakes
1. Gently wipe the kombu with a damp cloth to remove white salty stuff. Don’t worry if you don’t get it all.
2. Place the kombu in a pot along with the ginger and water. Place the pot over medium heat. Once the water starts to steam and develop lots of bubbles that are attached to the side of the pan turn off the heat. You do not want the pot to boil.
3. Set a timer for 12 minutes. At the end of twelve minutes remove the kombu. Turn the heat back on and bring the broth to just short of boiling again. Turn off the heat and add the bonito flakes.
4.Set the timer again for 12 minutes. At the end of twelve minutes strain the stock and use it immediately or store in the fridge. It is best if you use the stock within three days of making it.
For real, once you make this soup and see how easy it really is you will make it time and again. It will fall into your weeknight rotation and you will start stocking the stuff you need in your pantry. It is seriously good folks.
You are going to have to take a trip to the Asian grocery. Don’t you think it is about time? First off, I have said it time and again, the vegetables are great and, as is true with most ethnic grocery stores, the prices are great. Think of it as and adventure. A cultural adventure and realize that the people working in the store are there to help you, want you to know about their food culture and will do their best to get you the product you are looking for
Dashi is a Japanese stock made from dried bonito flakes. They are smoky and rich and key to making this right. Also you will need kombu, konbu or dried kelp sheets which is seaweed, but don’t substitute other seaweeds they are not the same. You want kelp. And finally don’t try to substitute dried ginger for the fresh, again, it is not the same. Ginger purchased at the Asian market is like a third of the price as your regular grocery because people are actually buying it before the owners have to throw it away so there is no lose of overhead due to spoilage.
I also use an organic Japanese soy sauce but you don’t have too. Just realize you want a Japanese style soy that doesn’t have a lot of additives. Pretty much it should have water, soybeans, maybe wheat, and salt and nothing more. Do not get aged or reduced or thickened soy for this recipe either.
You literally can use any kind of thin noodles you want. If you feel most comfy with spaghetti because that is what you have always cooked then go for it. Just make sure, one, you salt the pasta cooking water heavily, it will make your noodles taste good, and when they are done cooking cool them immediately in a cold water to stop the cooking. This way you won’t have mushy tasteless noodles.
This recipe is the culmination of many but is probably most closely related to Japanese ramen or even sukiyaki. I think you will like it. Enjoy.
Japanese Beef and Onion Soup
1 tablespoon grape seed or canola oil
2 large onions, peeled and julienned
1 leek, white part only save the green end for stock
1/4 cup garlic, peeled and sliced thinly
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, peeled and minced
1/3 cup mirin
1/2 cup soy sauce 8 cups dashi
12 very thin slices of beef tenderloin at room temperature
fresh ground black pepper
a handful of cilantro leaves
1 pound of thin noodles of your choice, cooked
1. Heat the oil over medium heat in a 3 1/2 quart heavy bottomed sauce pan. Add the onions , ginger, and the leeks and sweat them, stirring occasionally until they begin to brown. The less you stir the sooner they will brown but eventually you also want to stir so they brown nicely on all sides.
2. Add the garlic about halfway through the browning process. You want to soften the garlic but not brown it or it can become bitter. Now add the mirin and let it reduce by half. Then add the dashi and soy. Taste and add salt if necessary or more soy if you think it needs it. Reduce the heat and let the broth simmer for a bit, about 20 minutes or so. Just enough to let the flavors come together and the onions to be very tender but not mush.
3. If the noodles are cold place them in a strainer and run hot water over them for a few minutes to warm them. Shake out the excess hot water then divide them between four bowls. Arrange 4 tenderloin slices in each bowl and top with some cilantro.
4. Bring the broth to a boil and ladle it over the noodles. It will slightly cook the beef and will heat the noodles. Grind some fresh pepper over the top along with some cilantro and serve.