Dashi is a Japanese broth made from water, kombu (dried kelp) and bonito flakes. It forms the base of miso soup and numerous other dishes, but in itself is a soothing blend of saline and umami flavours. This recipe adds dried shiitake, fresh ginger and a splash of light soy for seasoning.
The idea of serving greens in a stock derives from a Japanese dish called ohitashi, which involves blanched, squeezed and rolled spinach. You could use spinach or chard with this dashi, or kale and turnip tops too, but I like the body and bite of spring greens.
This is one of those dishes that I find myself wanting before I’ve thought about what it will go with. It works really well, though, in tandem with soba noodles and pickled vegetables, or alongside things like slices of bavette steak, venison or duck breast that have been seared brown on the outside and left blushing pink within. It’s also good with hake and salmon fillets, or the baked portobello mushrooms.
The dashi can be made well in advance and refrigerated for up to 3 days, then reheated when required – but cook the greens at the very last minute.
- Yield: 4 to 6 Servings
- 1 piece kombu, about 8 cm square
- 10 g bonito flakes
- 1 dried shiitake mushroom
- 10 g fresh ginger, sliced into 3 mm discs
- 1 tablespoon light soy sauce
- 600 g spring greens
- For the dashi, put 1.2 litres cold water and the kombu in a pan and leave to soak for 15 minutes. Place it over a medium heat and bring to a light simmer (don’t allow it to boil), before reducing the heat so that it’s barely bubbling. Cook for 45 minutes–1 hour until you have a saline, slightly gelatinous liquid. Turn the heat off. Add the bonito and leave it to infuse for 4 minutes without stirring, then strain the dashi through a sieve into another container. Return the dashi to the heat, add the mushroom, ginger and soy sauce and simmer for 15 minutes.
- To prepare the spring greens, trim the stems from each leaf at their base, and cut each leaf into 2 or 3 palm-sized pieces. Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil. When the water is at a rapid boil, add the leaves and blanch for 90 seconds, until they are tender and a vivid green. Drain.
- Serve in individual bowls with a ladle or two of dashi over the top. The meat, fish, noodles or pickles could go in the same bowl, or just be nearby for picking at.