Beyond basic dashi
One evening recently, though, I had started making a double-batch (10 cups) of dashi, when I discovered that I only had enough bonito flakes for a single batch. The konbu was already heating up in the water. I could’ve just reserved half of the broth after removing the konbu, but I also had some dried shiitakes in the cupboard for making vegetarian dashi. I decided to do half bonito, half shiitake in one pot.
The result was a step above the basic konbu-bonito dashi, and this is now the way I make it every time. Here’s the recipe for your enjoyment.
10 cups fresh, cold water
2 large pieces of konbu (5 by 5in or 12 by 2in)
5 large dried shiitake mushrooms
Wipe the konbu with a wet cloth or paper towel (don’t rinse it). Combine with water and mushrooms in a stock pot or saucepan of at least 3qts over medium heat. Heat gently until just below the boiling point, then remove from the heat. Don’t be scared to let it simmer a wee little bit: a few bubbles will get you the right amount of flavor, but boiling it will overdo it.
Let stand 5 minutes, then remove the konbu and mushrooms (as in Ming’s recipe). Return to medium heat, and again bring it almost to a boil as above. When it reaches the same point just below boiling, remove from the heat and toss in
2 cups bonito flakes
When the bonito flakes sink, strain the dashi thru a fine mesh strainer. (Ming recommends cheesecloth, but if you use high-quality bonito flakes and konbu, this is overkill.) I make a batch at the beginning of the week, and use a bit of it every morning to make miso soup for breakfast.