This non-traditional recipe for dashi stock is adapted to be extra versatile. There is no fishiness or strong flavors. It can go in anything for a subtle umami boost. Totally vegan umami, and the recipe never calls for any heating or cooking, so it’s super easy to prepare and is raw diet friendly, too.
Adapting Traditional Dashi For Versatility
Dashi stock is the backbone of many famous Japanese dishes. It’s in everything from miso soup to ramen. Dashi is made from some combination of:
- katsuobushi (dried, fermented, smoked tuna)
- kombu (dried kelp seaweed)
- niboshi (dried sardines)
- shiitake mushrooms
I designed all the recipes featured on here to be as versatile as possible. I decided to forgo katsuobushi and niboshi. Yes; these ingredients are amazing and a great source of umami. However, I wanted to keep this recipe meatless and vegan-friendly. Vegan umami recipes can be few and far between, with many umami recipes being reliant on animal products. I also didn’t want to use katsuobushi or niboshi as they lend a very oceanic fishiness that may not be suitable in dishes that you, well, don’t want to taste fishy.
You may think kombu would taste fishy, being all seaweed-y and from the ocean and all. If prepared gently (like in this recipe), it simply lends a nice, rounded umami quality to the final dashi without any strong inherent flavor on its own.
Without getting too sciency on you, mushrooms are particularly high in guanylate, while kombu is really high in naturally occurring l-glutamate. Together, these two have a synergy, creating a very “full” umami taste in the final dashi recipe. So, don’t shy away from the kombu in this recipe!
Not All Shiitake Mushrooms Taste The Same
Likewise, shiitakes themselves are an amazing ingredient (they are in Umami Salt, duh). However, I didn’t add extra dried shiitakes to the final recipe. Blasphemy, right?
Not quite. I tried 20+ varieties of mushrooms while creating umami salt. Lots of those were different varieties of shiitakes. Some had a strong mushroom smell. Others I found extremely mild and almost bland. What’s the moral of the story? Not all shiitakes were created equal.
So, what’s the difference? The shiitakes in Umami Salt are packed with, well, umami. Go figure. Using Umami Salt here adds depth of flavor without adding a strong mushroom-ness. Fresh button mushrooms with the Umami Salt yields a neutral yet extremely addictive dashi.
To sum it up, all the umami-ness of dried shiitake + the fresh earthiness of the button mushrooms = perfect.
Using Vegan Umami Dashi Stock
The final product is a very clear stock that you can keep in the fridge for two weeks, or freeze into an ice cube tray for longer storage. Use it in pretty much anything soup-y or sauce-y looking for an umami kick.
Here are some ideas:
- Make your own home-made miso soup (way better than the instant packets!)
- Replace chicken broth with this stuff for a nice vegan umami noodle soup.
- Add a hit of this into your pasta sauce on your next fancy date night.
- Deglaze after saute-ing to make an awesome pan sauce to drizzle over your veggies.
- Drink it straight up, it’s really good!
Make some Tororo Soba with this dashi (pictured above). Just add a half cup of prepared kaeshi (soba noodle soup base) to 2 cups of the prepared umami dashi above. You can replace kaeshi with teriyaki sauce in a pinch (although some purists may get mad at me for suggesting that). Pour the sauce over soba noodles, and top with finely grated yamaimo (Japanese mountain yam), a quail egg yolk, toasted sesame seeds, and some finely slivered nori.
Vegan Umami Dashi Stock
- Large Non-Reactive Container
- 1 lb button mushrooms roughly chopped
- 1 tbsp umami salt
- 1 piece kombu 4×4 square
- 1 pint water filtered
- In a large container, combine chopped mushrooms and umami salt. Knead umami salt into mushrooms until the salt begins to draw moisture out of the mushrooms and liquid begins to pool in the container.
- Add dried kombu and water.
- Cover mixture, place in refrigerator, and allow to macerate for two hours, stirring once after one hour.
- Remove mixture from refrigerator, and press through fine mesh strainer or cheesecloth.
- Keep resulting dashi in the refrigerator for up to two weeks, or freeze for longer storage. Reserve button mushroom solids for another recipe such as mushroom soup.