Dashi granules are the crystalline form of Dashi powder. They are used to make an instant version of Japanese cooking broth called Dashi. The broth is a light, champagne-colored soup with an aroma that reminds you of the sea. Dashi granules are typically made from dried fish flakes (bonito) and dried kelp (kombu).
The taste of Dashi granules is best described as umami, embodying the savory or meaty taste of food. Dashi granules are a flavor enhancer, drawing out the flavors of other ingredients in most Japanese dishes. Apart from the flavors it brings to meals, Dashi has many health benefits. It is packed with essential vitamins, potassium, sodium, iron, calcium, zinc, and iodine because of the edible seaweed it is made from.
Store-bought Dashi granules are more concentrated in flavor than homemade Dashi broth. Many Japanese recipes call for Dashi stock, like Miso soup, beef sukiyaki, Japanese scallop soup, etc. You can get Dashi granules and powder at any well-stocked grocery store.
There may be times when you’ve run out of Dashi granules, or you may find it hard to get them at your favorite grocery store. You don’t have to worry about your meal lacking that umami flavor Dashi brings to your recipe. This article lists six fantastic substitutes that will stand in just fine as an alternative.
1. Chicken Stock
Chicken stock is a light broth, just like Dashi. Chicken stock can be an excellent substitute for Dashi granules as a similar function in a dish. Made from boiling chicken meat, bones, and vegetables, it is a delicious and nutritious base for soups and sauces.
Although it doesn’t have the same salty umami flavor as Dashi, chicken stock brings bold flavor to a dish. It is easy to make and can be store-bought at grocery stores or supermarkets.
2. White Fish
One of the main ingredients for Dashi granules is bonito fish shavings. Seafood is known to have an umami flavor, and white fish is no exception. Whitefish brings intense umami flavors to any dish and would be a great substitute if you run out of Dashi granules.
You can use any fish that falls under the category of white fish like cod, sea bass, haddock, etc. Don’t use oily fishes like tuna, salmon, or mackerel, as their distinct pungent flavor would overwhelm your dish instead of complementing it.
This one is an excellent Dashi granules substitute, especially for seafood lovers. In Japanese households, it is not uncommon to use leftover shellfish like lobsters, crabs, and shrimps to add more flavor to seafood soups. They have a strong umami flavor and add saltiness to a dish, just like Dashi granules.
Shellfish are edible and have amazing flavors. They are easy to come by and contain lots of nutrients.
4. Kombu Tea
Kombu is seaweed and one of the main ingredients in making Dashi. It can be used as a substitute for Dashi granules as it retains the umami flavor and nutrients that Dashi offers. Many Japanese people make kombu tea by infusing dried kombu seaweed leaves and drinking it for its health benefits.
It contains a high concentration of minerals like calcium, iron, and magnesium. And kombu tea is often consumed to relieve digestion issues and relax the nerves.
5. Dried Shiitake Mushrooms
While we know that mushrooms are a great source of umami flavor, dried Shiitake mushrooms have a very high concentration of glutamate, which contributes to the potency of umami flavor. Mushrooms are plant-based, so this is a welcome substitute for Dashi granules for vegans.
While the umami flavors are pronounced, shiitake mushrooms don’t overwhelm other flavors of the dish. They are packed with nutrients and have potential health benefits. The meaty texture of the mushrooms also makes the meal more inviting.
6. Soy Sauce
Soy sauce boosts the umami flavor that most South Asian dishes are known to have. It adds a savory saltiness that balances out the different taste components in a dish. This makes it an excellent substitute for Dashi granules.
There is some disparity in flavor between soy sauce and Dashi, but it’s not that noticeable. Soy sauce is your best bet as it is an easy ingredient to find, especially if you don’t mind the brown color.
Dashi granules are an essential ingredient in many Japanese dishes. To mirror their flavor profile and enhance your dish, you can safely employ any of the substitutes listed above.