The History Of Dashi


The Most Important Essential for Japanese cuisine, Dashi

Do you know the word "Umami"?

The "Dashi", (soup)stock or broth in English, which can be said to be the foundation of Japanese food Culture, is a great invention to fully utilize this Umami. In order to make Japan dishes, "dashi" is essential.

The main ingredients of Dashi are kelp, dried bonito fish, small fish and shiitake mushrooms etc...To make delicious Japanese dishes, the chefs stick to Dashi.

The way to take the broth is different depending on the cooks, such as using the mixed Dashi or only one material Dashi, but anyway, Dashi plays an important role that makes Japanese dish wonderful.

The birth of Dashi

"Kelp" and "Bonito", which is the big 2 materials of Dashi, have been confirmed in a old books for the first time in the 700's ad. However, there seems to have been no word "dashi". The word "dashi" is described in the literature "相伝之聞書" which is a cookbook by the Ookusa-ryu which is recorded in "群書類従" which had been completed in the early Edo period.This book includes cooking, handling of fish and birds, and manners of eating and drinking.

At this time, it was written that the Dashi was taken using a sort of bag, and it seemed to have taken the Dashi in a different way from the present.

More and more popular

In the mid-Edo period, the dashi with kelp and bonito was combined.The first practical Cookbook in Japan,"料理物語," explains how to take Dashi once or twice.After this, the Dashi was used for many dishes. For example, the fish soup using carp or cod, the meat soup using cranes and deer, and it seems to have used the Dashi in vegetable soup too such as natto juice and wormwood soup.

In the "料理網目調味妙" of Genroku Nishimura, the Umami and sweetness were used in the same sense. It seems to have been called Dashi as "base" or "sweet water".

Dashi culture in Kansai region (Around Osaka)

In the middle of the Edo period, about 300 years ago, the Dashi culture was greatly developed mainly in Kansai. 

Some ships of the west surroundings route which came around the Seto Inland Sea from the Sea of Japan came to carry to Osaka a lot of kelp of Hokkaido and products of the whole Japan.Also, in the bustling Osaka market, Katsuobushi, dried bonito, from Satsuma, Tosa and Kishu came in, then the mixed broth "Awase Dashi", was born.

In the Kansai area, dishes that can elicit the bland of the ingredients from the area were favored, and of course "Dashi " was important for it.

This is a Osaka food culture trait that has been handed down even in now-a-days.

Dashi, The precious culture for Japanese

The existence of "Dashi" has been established since the Edo period, Dashi is very important.

When you taste Japanese cuisine, please try to be conscious.