How to make dashi

How to make dashi

Dashi certainly has been making a splash in recent months. We’ve already seen a number of chefs on the new season of Great British Menu using this hero stock. A base flavour giant of the culinary world, dashi is loved and consumed every day across Japan…yet here in the West, you may only just be starting to hear the name of this liquid gold!

Mara is a big fan. Of, but then of course we would be, since dashi is most traditionally made with delicious umami rich whole leaf kombu. So, if you’re searching for a way to increase the umami flavour of your cooking, then it’s about time you learned how to make dashi.

What is dashi?

Dashi is a type of stock made using kombu seaweed, part of the kelp family. It forms the backbone of much of traditional Japanese cooking, adding umami flavour to miso soups, ramen broths, dipping sauces and much more.

But dashi isn’t just any old stock. Unlike other vegetable or meat stocks the ingredients are not boiled to draw out the flavour. Instead, the kombu is either soaked in cold water over a number of hours or brought to just below a simmer in order to gently develop the delicate flavours.

Dried and fermented tuna flakes, or bonito flakes, are commonly added, while dried shiitake mushrooms can be used to produce an earthier vegan dashi stock. Some also like to add dried anchovies for a stronger fishy flavour.

But what makes dashi, dashi? It all comes down to kombu’s rich umami deliciousness. Kombu provides a deep umami savouriness to the dashi that is impossible to replicate by using different ingredients. Even other species of seaweed lack the same umami flavour of kombu. It really is the kombu that makes dashi taste so good!

And don’t be fooled by dashi’s subtle flavour. Due to the high levels of glutamates in kombu, dashi’s ability to draw out all the flavours of a dish is truly unmatched.

How to make dashi?

Dashi recipe


                10g Mara Kombu Kelp Strips

                50g bonito flakes or dried shiitake mushrooms

                1l water

Serves: Will make 1litre of stock


  1. Soak the kombu in a pan fully immersed in water for 20 minutes, then discard the water.
  2. Add a further 1litre of cold water and stand for 2 hours or even overnight.
  3. Slowly bring the pan up to just below a simmer for 10 minutes, then take off the heat and remove the kombu. Avoid boiling the kombu as this can lead to the dashi developing an unwanted bitter flavour notes.
  4. Add the mushrooms or bonito and bring back to the boil. As soon as its boiling, turn the heat off and leave to soak for 10-20 minutes then strain.

If you want your dashi to taste even better, use a kombu that has plenty of mannitol. What is mannitol? Mannitol forms a layer of white powdery substance over the seaweed and is where much of the umami flavour of kombu is found. So, the more mannitol, the better the dashi will taste!

Dried Kombu with Mannitol

Plus, by using Mara Seaweed’s Scottish kombu kelp strips to make your dashi, you can get the same delicious flavour, but without the environmental costs that come with importing seaweed.

How to use dashi?

Use your dashi to add flavour to ramen, as the base for miso soup, or to simmer dumplings or fish for extra umami flavour. And remember, dashi is not just for use in Japanese cuisine. Try cooking your beans or lentils in dashi to give them a flavour boost. Or use it in place of stock to enhance the flavour of soups and sauces.

You could even try making, Dean Banks’ recipe for scallops with Mara Seaweed dashi. It’s a delicious, light, and simple dish that’s perfect for any special occasion.

Dean Banks' scallop dish with Mara Kombu dashi

Order some kombu kelp strips from our store today and get cooking with seaweed!

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