'Number One' Soup Stock
Dashi, the stock at the heart of all Japanese cooking, should taste of the sea. It is simple to make as there are only three ingredients.
Yield: makes about 2 1/2 cups
- 1 oz. wide-cut konbu
- 4 1⁄4 cups cold water
- 4 cups dried bonito flakes
- The trick—when preparing ichiban-dashi, to be used as a clear soup—is in keeping the stock and the konbu (dried kelp) in it below a boil. Wipe any dirt off 1 oz. wide-cut konbu. Place konbu in a medium saucepan with 4 cups cold water. Heat over medium-high heat until water just begins to simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook—without allowing stock to come to a full simmer—until konbu is soft, about 2 minutes.
- Remove konbu and reserve for niban-dashi (see Niban-Dashi recipe). Increase heat to medium-high and bring stock to a full boil. Add 1⁄4 cup cold water to lower temperature of stock, then add 4 cups dried bonito flakes. Do not stir. Return to a boil, then immediately remove pot from heat. (If bonito flakes boil more than a few seconds, flavor will be too strong.) Allow bonito flakes to settle, skim foam, then carefully pour stock through a sieve lined with cheesecloth. Reserve bonito flakes for niban-dashi. Use stock immediately.