Best Dashi Substitute

Dashi is a Japanese fish stock that has been used in countless dishes to achieve the unique taste that is sought-after by food enthusiasts all around the globe. Commonly found as a soup base for a variety of Japanese dishes, Dashi can also be seen as a flour base for Japanese grilled dishes.

Tracing back its origins in 1908, Professor Kikunae Ikeda identified “fifth flavor” or popularly known as umami when he studied the kombu dashi. Since then, it has been a staple broth found in every Japanese recipe that calls for soup. As of this writing, the most common variations of Dashi are Shiitake, Iriko, Kombu, Awase, and Katsuo.

Finding a dashi substitute can be quite tricky – but not totally impossible. While it’s true that it’s hard to replicate the real thing, it’s still better than nothing. Here are some of the best substitutes to fill the gap:

Monosodium Glutamate (MSG)

Invented in Japan back in the early 20th century, MSG is considered to be “synthetic umami” when the Japanese scientist discovered how to properly detach glutamate found in seaweeds commonly used for kombu dashi. Today, most MSGs are made with soybeans and other ingredients. This is considered to be the best alternative for dashi, to date.

Soy Sauce

Another welcome substitute in the culinary world for dashi is soy sauce. Commonly found in various Asian dishes, soy sauce is believed to contain the same umami found in dashi with the exception of turning your dish darker in color. While it may not provide the clean flavor that dashi can provide, it’s still a good alternative for achieving the coveted flavor profile.

Western Stocks and Broths

While it may not have the same health benefits as dashi, western-style stocks and broths are good enough substitutes. Chicken stock works best as a dashi alternative, but do take note that it doesn’t have a briny flavor because of the lack of seafood and seaweed extracts.

Homemade Dashi

Making Do-It-Yourself (DIY) dashi can be a fun and challenging experience worth trying especially if dashi is what you consider a staple household item. While finding the ingredients can be relatively easy, the techniques of making one can be quite challenging for beginners. At the heart of every homemade dashi is a combination of bonito flakes and kombu, steeped and filtered out carefully.

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