Have you ever had a recipe calling for dashi powder, but not knowing what it is or how to replace it? You’re not alone.
Dashi can be hard to find and tricky to replace, but with these five substitutes you’ll have no problems creating delicious dishes.
What’s Dashi Powder?
Dashi powder is an umami-rich flavor enhancer used in traditional Japanese cuisine to add depth and complexity to dishes.
It’s made from kombu, a type of kelp, and dried bonito flakes, which are dried and smoked skipjack tuna flakes.
Dashi powder is an essential ingredient for many Japanese dishes such as miso soup, soy sauce, nabe hot pot dishes, simmered vegetables, oden stews and more.
Using dashi powder can greatly enhance the flavor of many popular dishes without adding additional ingredients or complicated processes.
When using dashi powder in recipes, it should be added at the end of the cooking process to prevent the umami flavor components from dissipating during cooking.
Here are a few tips on using dashi powder:
- Start with less than you think you need — a little goes a long way.
- Don’t boil your dashi if using it for soup or dipping sauces; simmering will allow for maximum flavor extraction without boiling off essential nutrients.
- Taste your dish and adjust as necessary — some dishes may require more than one tablespoon per serving of dashi powder to achieve the desired flavor profile.
- Stir well before use and don’t be afraid to experiment with various combinations. You can even try adding other ingredients such as mushrooms and seaweed to give your creations even more depth of flavor.
- Store properly — make sure that you store your dashi powder in an airtight container designated specifically for it if possible; this will help preserve its potency over time so that each dish always comes out perfect.
5 Best Dashi Powder Substitutes to Consider
While Dashi powder is an essential ingredient in many Japanese dishes, it can be difficult for some to find it in stores or online.
If you’re looking for an alternative that can deliver a similar umami taste, then check out these five best substitutes for Dashi powder:
1 – Chicken Stock Powder
Chicken stock powder is a popular substitute for dashi powder.
It is made from dehydrated chicken bones, salt and seasonings, so it has a very meaty flavor that mimics the taste of dashi.
To prepare it, just add the recommended amount to hot water until the powder dissolves and it can be used in place of dashi in many Asian dishes.
Keep in mind that while chicken stock powder has a similar umami flavor to traditional dashi, it lacks the distinctive smoky notes and may not be as effective when used as part of a complex broth.
Additionally, some brands contain added MSG which can be off-putting to some consumers.
Be sure to check labels carefully before making your purchase.
2 – Dried Bonito Shavings
Dried bonito shavings are made from boiled, cured, and dried fish that has been finely shaved.
These shavings have a strong, salty flavor that is similar to the flavor of kombu dashi but with a bit of smokiness.
They are often used in a variety of Japanese dishes such as oden and stews.
To make your own stock with these shavings, add 2 tablespoons of dried bonito shavings to 4 cups of water and bring it to a boil.
Once the soup begins to boil, reduce the heat and let it simmer for 10 minutes before straining it.
This will create a delicious savory broth that can be used for soups, stews, sauces, and more.
3 – Dried Shiitake Mushroom Soup Stock
This vegetarian substitute is made with dried shiitake mushrooms, kombu (kelp), and bonito flakes that are simmered together to create a savory broth.
You can use this broth in place of dashi powder in any savory dish that calls for it.
The flavor is mild and light, but it adds depth of flavor to any dish you make with it.
To make a simple broth from this substitute, mix one teaspoon with two cups of water in a saucepan and bring it to a simmer until the flavors have blended together.
4 – Mentsuyu
Mentsuyu is a Japanese seasoning sauce made from soy sauce and mirin—a type of rice wine—along with sweet cooking sake and konbu (kelp) dashi.
It’s usually used as a dipping sauce for somen noodles and other cold dishes, but can be diluted with water to make a soup base.
Mentsuyu is readily available in convenient pre-made mixes which contain the exact ratios of all the ingredients, so you don’t have to worry about purchasing each separately.
For a full-bodied seafood flavor, try adding katsuobushi (dried bonito flakes) or iwashi (dried sardines).
If you don’t want to use fish-based umami, any quality mushroom powder can work as well.
5 – Kombu Powder
Kombu powder is made from the salt-cured, dried, and powdered version of kombu seaweed.
Kombu powder can be used in a 1:3 ratio to replace dashi powder for a similar flavor but with a milder, sweeter taste.
The flavor will vary widely depending on the type of kombu used—it can range from light and sweet to more nuanced levels of brininess and umami.
Kombu powder also contains glutamic acid and alginic acid, natural sources of umami that are also found in dashi powder.
In Japan, it’s often added to stews and soups, but it can also be used as a seasoning or dry rub for various meats like pork or chicken.
Ultimately, dashi powder is a pantry staple that adds a deep umami flavor to Japanese dishes.
While there’s no exact substitute for the unique taste, many of the ingredients mentioned above can be used in various combinations to create a similar flavor profile.
When substituting for dashi powder, it’s important to consider the flavors and textures of the remaining ingredients in your dish.
Experiment with different combinations of seaweed, fish sauce, and/or mushrooms to find which will work best for your needs.
With a few simple adjustments and these suggestions in mind, you can usually find an appropriate replacement for dashi powder without losing much in terms of flavor or authenticity.
Carrie is a food writer and editor with more than 15 years of experience. She has worked for some of the biggest names in the food industry, including Bon Appétit, Food & Wine, and Martha Stewart Living.
As the Editor in Chief of IntroChicago.com, Carrie oversees all of the content on the site. She also manages the team of contributing writers and editors, who help to create delicious recipes, helpful tips, and informative articles that you’ll find on the site.
A native of the Chicago area, Carrie is passionate about all things food. She loves trying new restaurants and experimenting with new recipes in her kitchen. She’s also a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, so she knows a thing or two about food!