Dashi, ponzu (Japanese cooking basics)

Here are a few basics of Japanese cooking that are used in other recipes in this section.

Katsuo Dashi (Basic Dashi Stock)


  • 2 1/2 x 1 1/2 in. (6 x 4 cm) dried kelp (konbu)
  • 7 cups (1 3/4 liters) water
  • 4 cups (50g) dried bonito flakes

Wipe the kelp with a damp cloth, then put it in a saucepan with the water. Bring to a boil uncovered; just before the water comes to a boil, remove and discard the kelp. Sprinkle in the bonito flakes and remove saucepan from heat. As soon as the bonito flakes start to sink, strain stock and discard bonito flakes. This stock, which is the basis of many sauces and soups, can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.

Helpful hint: Instant dashi granules (dashi-no-moto) make a quick alternative if small amounts of the stock are needed; however, for soups and stock for simmered dishes, it is preferable to make your own dashi.

Dengaku Miso


  • 1 3/4 cups (500g) red or white miso
  • 1/3 cup (100ml) sake
  • 1/3 cup (100ml) mirin
  • 3 tablespoons (50g) sugar

Put all ingredients into a saucepan, preferably nonstick, and heat slowly, stirring from time to time. When it has come to a boil, reduce heat to a minimum and cook, stirring from time to time, for 20 minutes. Cool and refrigerate for up to 1 month.

Ponzu (Citrus sauce)


  • 3 x 2 1/2 in. (8x6 cm) dried kelp (konbu)
  • 1 3/4 cups (450ml) musk lime (ponzu or kala-mansi) juice, or lemon juice
  • 1 3/4 cups (450ml) dark soy sauce
  • 1/3 cup (90ml) mirin
  • 1/4 cup (70ml) tamari soy sauce
  • 4 cups (40g) dried bonito flakes

Heat the dried kelp over a gas flame or under a broiler (grill), then put into a bowl with all other ingredients. Refrigerate for 3 days, then strain. Can be stored for up to 1 year. (Bottled ponzu can be purchased in Japanese stores.)

Sweet Vinegar (Amazu)


  • 2 cups (500ml) water
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (275ml) rice vinegar
  • 10 tablespoons (150g) sugar
  • 2 teaspoons salt

Bring water and vinegar to a boil in a saucepan, then add sugar and salt and stir until dissolved. Remove from heat. Cool and use as a dipping sauce for vegetables. Keeps refrigerated up to 10 days.

Recipe source

Reprinted with permission from the book:

The Food of Japan

by Takayuki Kosaki and Walter Wagner

Periplus Editions (HK) Ltd.

The unique quality of Japanese cuisine lies not so much in its ingredients but in its spirit and philosophy. The essence of Japan is captured in this collection of recipes ranging from rustic one-pot dishes such as soba noodles to elegant and exotic presentations. This book of recipes, gathered and photographed in Japan, also introduces the reader to the cultural attitudes which have shaped the cuisine of The Land of the Rising Sun.

ISBN 962 593 392 1

Source: The Food of Japan
by Takayuki Kosaki and Walter Wagner
Copyright (c) 2000 Periplus Edition (HK) Ltd. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

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