This is the basic stock in Japanese cooking. Classically, it has only 3 ingredients: seaweed, dried tuna flakes, and water. Contemporary cooks might also add a little piece of ginger or cilantro stems but I think the simple classic stock is best. In the United States, the ingredients are generally available in natural foods stores and, of course, Japanese markets. There is a perfectly acceptable instant granule dashi called dashi-no-moto or hon-dashi, which comes in small jars or packets.
Wipe the Kombu clean with a damp cloth. Don’t wash or rinse, because its speckled surface is where the flavor is. Combine the kombu and water in a saucepan and set aside for 30 minutes. Place over medium heat and gently bring just to a simmer. Don’t boil; the Japanese believe that this will cause off-flavors.
Turn off the heat, remove the kombu from the pot, and add the bonito. Allow the bonito to settle to the bottom (this will take about 3 minutes). Carefully strain the broth through a fine mesh strainer or cheesecloth and discard the bonito. Reserve the kombu for another round of stock-making. (Fish it out of the pot, pat it dry with paper towels, and store it in a clean, dry place.)
© 2004 John Ash. All rights reserved.