Can You Make Dashi with Wakame? It’s not the best substitute

by Joost Nusselder | Updated:  June 28, 2020

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Have you ever been trying to make dashi at home and you find that you are out of kombu? What would you use instead?

One alternative to consider is wakame seaweed.

Wakame broth and kombu broth taste similar. But would wakame make a good substitute for kombu? Read on to find out.

Can you use wakame in your dashi

Wakame wouldn’t be the best substitute for Kombu to make Dashi because of both the texture and taste differences. Although they slightly taste alike, you wouldn’t get the umami needed for good dashi. There are much better substitutes.

What is Kombu?

Kombu is an edible kelp that is widely eaten in Asian cuisine. It has a strong umami flavor and it is a signature ingredient in making dashi.

It can also be eaten fresh in sashimi and it is also used in tsukudani, a dish soaked in soy sauce and flavored with mirin.

What is Wakame?

Wakame is an edible seaweed with a subtly sweet yet strong flavor and a distinctive texture. It is often used in soups and salads.

Also read: are kombu, wakame and kelp Japanese seaweeds the same?

What is Dashi?

Dashi is a family of stocks used to make various Japanese soups and other dishes.

It is used as the base of miso soup and it can also be mixed into the flour base of grilled foods like okonomiyaki and Takoyaki.

Here’s Bridgets Healthy Kitchen showing the difference between the two in the Asian supermarket:

Can Wakame Be Used as a Substitute for Kombu in Dashi?

Some people say it is okay to use wakame instead of kombu to make dashi. However, popular opinion is that it really won’t give it the same umami kick.

The taste difference will be even more noticeable when compared to higher-end versions of kombu that are more flavorful.

Another problem is that wakame gets very slimy when it’s cooked and this can affect the texture of the dashi. Kombu has a thicker texture.

Finally, kombu adds an aromatic value to dashi that is lacking in wakame.

Better substitutes for Kombu

So, if wakame doesn’t work well as a substitute for kombu in dashi, what can you use?

Some say dried bonito flakes will do the trick.

Even though they don’t have quite the same punch when it comes to flavor, they will give the dashi a smokey, salty taste that makes up for it.

Others say other stock ingredients that are rich in glutamic acids (amino acids found in wakame that are responsible for giving it its savory taste) will do the trick.

Tomato and mushroom broths are recommended.

If you are trying to avoid glutamates, a chicken broth will work as well.

Making dashi without kombu will be challenging, but it’s not impossible. Which ingredients would you use as a substitute?

Also read: these are the best substitutes to make your dashi stock with

Joost Nusselder, the founder of Bite My Bun is a content marketer, dad and loves trying out new food with Japanese food at the heart of his passion, and together with his team he's been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with recipes and cooking tips.