Best Japanese Dashi Stock Substitutes

Dashi is a stock that’s a Japanese cooking staple. If you need it for a recipe but don’t have any then check out these quick and easy dash stock substitute ideas.

Dashi stocks are used in miso soup, noodle soups, and other broth-based dishes. It is used to emphasize the savory flavor called Umami. Because of the role that Dashi plays in these dishes, you can substitute it with other Umami-containing broths or sauces.

Read on to find out the best substitution options for Japanese Dashi Stock.

What Exactly Is Dashi Stock?

Dashi contains kelp, fermented skipjack tuna, or bonito, and after being cooked close to the boiling point it is strained. The classic umami taste is added through the addition of katsuobushi or kombu.

Today, in Japan, homemade dashi is less popular with store-bought options being preferred for most dishes.

Substitutes For Dashi Stock

Best Option: Monosodium Glutamate (MSG)

MSG was invented by a scientist who figured out how to isolate glutamate from the same seaweed used when making kombu dashi.

You can buy MSG in most grocery stores making it an easily accessible substitute. Glutamate is responsible for some of the meatiness of the flavor in dashi. So when you add MSG you’re adding the same basic chemical to your food.

Popular Option: Mentsuyu

Mentsuyu is a sauce/stock made from dashi, soy sauce, mirin, sugar, and additional seasonings. These additional seasonings are often bonito and kombu.

You can use Mentsuyu as a Dashi substitute in dishes requiring a soup, in Asian cuisine this often amounts to noodle recipes. You will often see it combined with udon, soba, and somen noodles, though occasionally ramen too.

It is not an exact substitute, so don’t use too much otherwise you will risk overpowering your dish. It’s also not advised to use mentsuyu for dashi in a miso soup.

Easy Option: Soy Sauce

Glutamate is present in soybeans which are what is used to make soy sauce. Since soy sauce is used widely in Asian cooking, especially in Japan, it is possible to substitute soy sauce for dashi.

In many recipes you’ll be instructed to use both soy sauce and dashi – in these situations, it would be better to use MSG. If you do not have MSG to hand you can always ‘double up’ on the soy sauce meaning that you will use it twice.

Final Option: Homemade Substitute

If MSG or soy sauce won’t cut it for you then you can always try to make your dashi substitute.

Step 1: Rehydrate dried shiitake mushrooms
Step 2: Strain the mushrooms and keep the water
Step 3: Add kombu and bonito flakes to the mix
Step 4: Give a quick stir
Step 5: Add a little soy sauce to taste (optional)

Conclusion

There you have it, none of these substitutes will be as perfect as the real thing, just ask any Japanese chef. That being the case, if you’re looking for something that will create a great meal at home and work as a passable dashi substitute then these options will all help you do that.