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List of Good Dashi Substitute Choices You Should Know

If you love Japanese food, you will probably be familiar with the taste of umami. It is what makes Japanese dishes unique. However, you may not have dashi soup stock in your kitchen right now. You need to find dashi substitutes for bonito flakes. To help the cooking process go smoothly, here are the top 7 best recipes.

Substitute for dashi stock list

If you don’t have dashi soup stock available in your kitchen. You will have a hard time making a delicious Japanese dish or miso paste soup. So, you can consider using these dashi substitutes. They will replace dashi or bonito flakes to flavor your dishes:

  • Monosodium Glutamate (MSG).
  • White-meat fish stock.
  • Soy sauce (Shiro-dashi).
  • Shellfish scraps broth.
  • Dried Shiitake mushrooms and dried seaweed.
  • Chicken broth.
  • Powdered or cubed broth.

1. Monosodium Glutamate (MSG): The best dashi substitute

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Monosodium Glutamate is the best substitute for dashi

The purpose of using MSG in your food is to enhance the umami flavor. Which is also the point of using dashi. MSG was invented in the early 20th century. When a Japanese scientist figured out how to separate glutamate from the same seaweed. Which he used to make kombu dashi.

Today, MSG is made from many different ingredients including soybeans. But it still brings the same taste in dishes. Glutamate is what is responsible for the meaty flavor of dashi. Whether you use dashi or MSG, you’re just adding glutamate to your food.

One of the main benefits of dashi replacement MSG is that it is often easier to find than other substitutes. Kombu for dashi isn’t always easy to find in the West, and neither is tuna. Meanwhile, MSG is easy to find in both Western-style grocery stores and Asian stores. It’s a great choice when you need an instant dashi replacement.

2. White-meat fish stock

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White fish soup stock can be good dashi stock replacement

An important aspect to consider when choosing a substitute is the base flavor. Here, it’s seafood, especially fish. This means you can freely use the fish to recreate that umami taste.

However, not all types of fish give the best results. Remember, tuna scales are considered white fish. Therefore, you should choose any other light, non-oily white fish that will be your preferred alternative. On the other hand, red meats can overpower your dish.

Some types of white fish include catfish, halibut, sea bass, cod, and snapper. You can make many different creative recipes from white fish. One is white fish scraps.

Don’t consider mackerel or tuna. Their fish flavor is so intense that it dominates the overall flavor. You can make more stock by blanching the head and bones in boiling water. Along with aromatics like garlic, leeks, onions, and celery. You can swap the amount of white fish just like the dashi water. Keeping in mind your preferred taste.

3. Soy sauce (Shiro-dashi)

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Making dashi substitute from soy sauce

Shiro-dashi is very similar to mentsuyu. The difference between them is the color.

There are two types of soy sauce. One is black (normal soy sauce) and one is yellow-white (light soy sauce). Shiro-dashi uses light soy sauce instead of normal soy sauce. 

The Japanese tend to use shiro-dashi instead of mentsuyu to prevent foods from darkening. For example when making egg roll dashi.

Some mentsuyu dishes contain only tuna dashi broth. While some shiro-dashi dishes contain both tuna dashi and kombu (kelp) broth. In addition, the amount and type of spices added depends on them. So please check the ingredients list on the package and find your favorite.

4. Shellfish broth

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You can make substitute from shellfish

Now, you don’t have white fish. But if you have shellfish like shrimp or shrimp in your freezer, you can use scraps from them. This can give a typical seafood-based flavor without the use of fish.

Just like the first substitute, you’ll need to sauté it with your scraps. Then just add water, bring to a boil and let simmer for an hour.

If you notice, this process will take longer to prepare than when using fish scraps. This is because it takes longer to extract flavor from shellfish scraps.

5. Dried Shiitake mushrooms and dried seaweed (Vegan dashi)

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You can use shiitake mushrooms and seaweed to make substitute

Our vegan community will love this alternative. After all, it’s made from kombu and shiitake. It means seaweed and mushrooms. 

If you have mushrooms and some packaged dried seaweed at home. Just follow the instructions mentioned on the package. Mix the kombu with the water. Let the mixture soak for 30 minutes. Don’t heat it. Touch the leaves with a spoon to determine if they are slippery.

After soaking them for 30 minutes, bring the mixture to a boil. Let it simmer for the next 10 minutes. In the meantime, check to see if you need a little more water to get the desired number of rows.

Similarly, you can use liquid from soaked shiitake as a substitute for a rich umami flavor. Remember to test by pinching the mushrooms and see if they are soft enough. Simmer for about 10 to 30 minutes and it’s good to continue.

Finally, you can also consider using vegetables of your choice. Boil them for about 20 minutes and then strain all the broth. Sprinkle it with salt and pepper. Your veggie stock dashi substitute is ready to use. 

However, note that grated vegetables should not be used.  The skin and damaged parts can create a bitter taste. As with fish alternatives, feel free to use the same amount of dashi water as needed.

6. Chicken broth

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Chicken broth is a good dashi replacement

This option may be the easiest, as chicken stock is readily available at any convenience or grocery stores.

You can make your own and choose what vegetables and seasonings are included, or simply buy canned or powdered chicken broth. Make sure you dissolve it in hot water before using and tasting, as you may need to use about half more than what the dish indicates.

We recommend using commercial chicken broth rather than fish or beef, as these two have very strong flavors that can alter your dish too much. Use chicken stock when cooking katsudon, gyudon, soups, and broths.

7. Powder or cube broth as dashi substitute

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You can use power and cube soup stock 

One of the easiest ways to make dashi stock is using cubed or powdered broth. You have many options – chicken, fish, shrimp, whatever you want. However, avoid using beef or pork for the cubed or powdered broth as it can overpower the taste of the dashi.

These cubed or powdered versions of broth are already flavored, so add more liquid than necessary. Be sure of the quantity; you don’t want to lose its original flavor or end up adding salt. To substitute this broth for dashi, follow the instructions on the package to prepare the broth as usual. Then taste again and add more water as you like.

The definition of dashi

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You can make miso soup from dashi stock

Dashi refers to a group of dishes with a very rich umami flavor. Traditionally, dashi is made from tuna flakes, dried kombu or sea kelp, dried shiitake mushrooms, and whole dried sardines. This stew is the basis of many Japanese dishes. Including miso soup base, ramen, udon, and more.

Preparing dashi takes a long time, as the ingredients need to be soaked for a long time. There are some popular varieties:

  • Kombu dashi: made from dried kelp. It has the most delicate flavor. It is part of soups and clear broths.
  • Katsuo dashi: made from tuna flakes. It’s popular in ramen and soups.
  • Awase dashi: combines both kelp and tuna. It is part of ramen, soups and noodles.
  • Iriko dashi: comes from dried sardines or anchovies. It is often part of soups, rice, noodles, etc.

Dashi has a rich and salty taste that adds a distinct umami flavor to your meal. Much of this power is due to the dry ingredients combined with the glutamic acid in your inventory. You can buy it at some organic supermarkets or Asian food markets. 

Conclusion

Along with the top 7 dashi substitutes that we introduce to you. Hope that you will be able to make Japanese food with the right taste that you love. Making dashi substitute is a very interesting process. It will help you understand and love the taste of food a lot more!