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Feb 1, 2012 03:24 AM

JAPANESE MONTH: WASHOKU: Stocks, Sauces, and other Condiments

Please use this thread to discuss and review recipes from the chapter about stocks, sauces and other condiments.

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  1. Basic Sea Stock (Dashi), Pg. 92

    This is the first time I have both made and tasted dashi, and as Ms. Andoh states it Is a subtle food enhancer. I'm going to have get used to it since it's an ingredient in so many recipes. A little tricky to cook as well. Timing and heat control are the procedures that make or break the stock. We were able to find both the kombu (kelp) and katsuo-bushi (bonito flakes) we needed at local markets so didn't have to substitute anything.

    The ingredients are: 15 - 20 one inch pieces kombu, 4 1/2 cups filtered water, 1/2 cup loose katsuo-bushi.
    I found that kitchen shears were perfect for cutting the kombu.

    The kombu is placed in a pot with the water and soaked for 15 minutes. Next put the pot over medium heat. Take pot off heat as soon as you see simmering bubbles around the edge of the pot and on the surface. Now take the katsuo-bushi, sprinkle the flakes all over the surface and watch for them to sink to the bottom. This does take a few minutes. When all the flakes are saturated strain the broth into a bowl with a coffee filter or a fine weave lint-free cloth.

    We used this stock for the Tangy Seared Chicken on page 256. There is about 1/2 cup left over that we are storing in a tightly lidded glass jar in the fridge. If we don't use it before that time it will be tossed.

    9 Replies
    1. re: Gio

      When I purchased Washoku, this was the first thing I made. Your description of the process seems very accurate. I too used kitchen scissors [shears would be way too grand a word for what lives in my kitchen.]

      I remember using mine to make a soup. In fact, that might be on the agenda tonight. [Do bonito flakes get stale?]

      1. re: smtucker

        Thanks for that SMT. At least I'm on the right track with the dashi.

        On page 18 Ms Andoh says that large open bags of bonito flakes will go rancid rather quickly even if stored in a cool dark place. (My pantry is exactly that.) She says the flavor and aroma lasts about 4 - 6 weeks. Instead of large bags she advises buying a box or bag of individual packets of 3 - 5 grams each, if you're only going to use the flakes occasionally. Our bag of bonito came from Whole Foods, the Eden Foods brand: 1.05 oz / 30 g size. I have no idea how long it will take to use it up but I'll keep a record...

        1. re: Gio

          At her suggestion, I bought a big bag filled with sealed smaller bags. I think I just need to rip one open and smell it! Not the end of the world to start with a fresh pantry to make this month as successful as possible.

          1. re: smtucker

            I really wish I knew this before shelling out ten bucks for a 100g bag... It has barely been open for two weeks and already has started to take on a fishy funk, despite being stored in the fridge as instructed on the package. Lesson learned!

            I'm beginning to see the appeal of niboshi, or dried sardines, for dashi. They may be less versatile than katsuobushi, but they are more economical and can be bought in bulk without fear of imminent spoilage. Also, it's kinda fun watching a school of tiny fish swim (float lifelessly) around the pot of stock.

      2. re: Gio

        It is interesting to see the differnces between Andoh's dashi recipe and Tsuji's. Tsuji's requires much more katsuo bushi and kombu and is much darker.

        1. re: BigSal

          I think the difference between home cooking and professional cooking starts to assert itself here. When you see chefs on Japanese TV making dashi VAST quantities of bonito flakes make it into the pan.
          I've eaten home cooked meals made by friends and relatives who prepare their own dashi and much more modest amounts are used. On the one had, flakes made from traditional blocks which are shaved by hand using a special utensil take time and effort to prepare. And even with store bought mechanically shaved bonito, it's costly.

          1. re: BigSal

            Dashi pg. 92

            I finally made Andoh's version last night. It does seem much lighter than Tsuji's. I used the dashi to make a tempura sauce and in dressings for two other recipes. Especially in the Tempura sauce I liked this lighter dashi, in the dressings not as much. But it certainly is easier on the purse.

          2. re: Gio

            Dashi made daily as part of a traditional kitchen is very important and its part of the reason why so many families forsake this for instant dashi varieties. Once made it simply doesn't last very long. May I suggest that you freeze what you have left over rather than keeping it in the fridge. This will guarantee it remains available for a future recipe.

            You can put bonito flakes in the freezer also. That will also help prolong the shelf life.
            Stale bonito flakes are pretty revolting.

            1. re: MoGa

              That's a good suggestion, MoGa. I have read that frozen cooked dashi will keep for 3 months in the freezer; in the fridge only 2 days at best. Since I have just about 1/2 cup left and am making 2 vegetable recipes on Friday I'll may need to use it then.

          3. Seems to me that if your small bags are unopened they should be fine. OTOH, you could use your unmentionable dedicated cutting implement to open a bag.

            ETA: OOPs......meant to respond to SMT.

            1. The original comment has been removed
              1. Sweet and Sour Sauce (Amazu) pg. 98

                Made this sauce in order to make the radish pickle on pg. 221. I've made Tsuji's version in the past and comparing the two side by side this version is a bit easier in that it doesn't require any dashi, but it is also quite a bit sweeter, and that's not to our taste. So I made this according to Andoh's method (rice vinegar, sugar, salt kombu soaked together for at least 20min, then warmed to just below the boil), but reduced the sugar by a third. I liked the results, and would make this again, but for us even less (1.5 TBS v 3 she calls for) would be enough sugar.

                1 Reply
                1. re: qianning

                  Made this the other day for sweet and sour lotus root. The strength of the sauce was more potent than I had imagined. I think the other versions I have tried before have perhaps been more diluted. I made the recipe as written, and the sugar ratio was perfect for me. It already seemed tangy enough.
                  I did, however, make my sauce in a metal pot (no choice, really) and discovered that my lotus root was tinged an unappetizing shade of grey. Oops.

                  I've noticed that Andoh mentions that one can re-use the sweet-sour liquid left over from pickled ginger. Does the same ring true for all pickled veg? We went through the lotus root rather quickly, and my rice vinegar supply is dwindling, so using that sauce again would be excellent news.

                2. Maybe asked one million times before, maybe not, but here's my question-- I have some good Thai fish sauce (aged, made from anchovies). Could a drop or two or three of this be a sub for bonito flakes in dashi?