This vegan dashi gets its super umami powers from kelp (kombu) and shiitake mushrooms and comes together in only 1 hour. This dashi is the perfect recipe starter for your favorite Japanese and Korean dishes, or can be had as a soup on its own!
There was once a time when I blissfully slurped down Miso soups at any Japanese restaurant, thinking “Miso, tofu, spring onions, WCGW?”
Until one day someone pointed out that Miso soup is ALWAYS made of a dashi. And dashi, is almost always made of shaved fish flakes.
After I came to terms with the fact that I was living in blissful ignorance, I set out to learn more about Japanese cuisine (and now ALWAYS double check ingredients, even if the waiter insists it’s “there’s no meat and fish in it”).
It turns out that many Japanese and Korean dishes that are seemingly vegan are in fact not, because they start with dashi (broth made with kelp and fish), which is used much like how western chefs use chicken stock to add flavor to dishes.
If you simply swapped out the traditional dashi for a vegan dashi in dishes like Japanese Miso Soup and Korean Sundubu-Jjigae, they magically become vegan! (and that’s how I made my Vegan Tteokbokki )
With this realization, I set off to master vegan dashi.
I learned quickly that traditional vegetarian Japanese cuisine uses either Kombu Dashi (kelp dashi) or Shiitake Dashi (mushroom dashi).
There are dashi recipes that use both kombu and shiitake, but since the brewing method differ for the two (boiled shiitake broth is too pungent), most recipes suggest cold brewing them together overnight.
And sometimes I’m in the mood to make a dish on the whim, so this doesn’t work for me.
So I decided to improvise and make a version that’s ready in about an hour, by steeping the two ingredients separately and combining them together at the end (with a few flavor boosters) for a dashi so flavorful that I call it the SUPER UMAMI VEGAN DASHI!
First off, this recipe can be made two ways.
1) The traditional, simple and pure way (just kelp + mushrooms)
2) The SUPER UMAMI flavor boosted way (with two additional ingredients)
For the traditional version, we need to grab two simple items from the Asian grocery store:
Kelp (known as ‘Kombu’ in Japanese or ‘Dashima’ in Korean)
Dry Shiitake Mushrooms
In the simple and pure application the kelp is carefully simmered on low heat while the shiitake mushrooms steep in hot water for an hour separately; they are later combined together and ready to use as is.
The flavor is pure and subtle, and perfect for any dish or simply sipped on its own.
In the amped up version, we get a little help from the vegan Vietnamese pantry, in the form of Golden Mountain Sauce (or Maggie Seasoning) and Vegan Fish Sauce, which adds an extra kick of saltiness and funk at the end.
Again, all of these ingredients are easily found at your local Asian grocery store, but luckily Amazon carries them all.
So there you have it – simple, easy, and fast.
Just like me.
JK. Or am I?
- Take a damp kitchen towel and gently wipe down both sides of the kelp to remove any dust or salt
- Cut the kelp into strips and place it into a saucepan with 4 cups of water; bring it to a boil, and immediately turn the heat down to low and simmer for 1 hour, stirring occasionally
- Meanwhile, wash your mushrooms in a bowl of cold water by dipping them in for a few seconds and swishing them around to loosen any dirt or grit
- Place the mushrooms in a large heat safe dish, and pour in 3 cups of boiling water, and let them soak for 1 hour as well (it helps to place another heat safe dish on top of the mushrooms to help them stay submerged while steeping)
- Once the kelp has simmered and the mushrooms have steeped for an hour, drain them both into a bowl or jar in a fine sieve lined with a coffee filter or paper towel
- Place in the refrigerator for up to one week, or use as called for in recipes