If you love Japanese soup and enjoy cooking, it’s likely you have experimented with dashi, but now that you’re in the know about this umami enhancer, what’s up with these different kinds of dashi, like hondashi, and dashi no moto?!?
You’ve probably found me here because you were wondering that exact thing! So let’s explore these three varieties so you can determine which one works best for your culinary needs.
Dashi, Hondashi, and Dashi No Moto are all soup bases that give food a similar umami taste, but they are not exactly alike. Basically, Dashi is fresh self-made dashi and the others are a pre-made soup base, where Hondashi is a branded instant dashi product name.
Wow, who knew? Let’s look at that in more detail, shall we?
In this post we'll cover:
What is Dashi?
In case you don’t yet exactly know or you kinda heard it a while back, you can describe Dashi as a soup base that adds “Umami” to a lot of dishes in Japanese cuisine.
Like any other base, it can not be used on its own but rather it’s the base ingredient to build your broth from.
It is commonly used for miso soup but it can also be found in clear broth and noodle broth soups, like my favorite, different ramen noodles.
I’ve also got this article on my favorite ramen toppings which is great to go through
It’s also used in cooking grilled food and is often mixed into a flour base to prepare dishes such as takoyaki and okonomiyaki.
Dashi is typically produced using dried seaweed (Kombu, not Wakame), some dried bonito flakes (called Katsuobushi), and/ or dried sardines (Niboshi).
However, there is also a liquid form made from Kombu seaweed and a light-colored soy sauce.
The stock is known for giving dishes a deep umami taste.
What is Hondashi?
Hondashi is not as well known as dashi, largely because it isn’t widely available outside of Asia, but it’s the name of a product that the Ajinomoto brand produces and it’s actually a ready-made powdered dashi.
However, it can be used interchangeably with dashi and it is often used as a base for miso soup and tempura batter.
This particular product is also made with dried bonito fish flakes, some seaweed flavoring, and a few additional flavors.
Different types of Katsuobushi flakes can be added to enhance its flavor and fragrance.
This dashi variety has the signature umami taste but it has a smokey and slightly sweet undertone that sets it apart.
What is Dashi No Moto?
Dashi no moto is a dried bonito flavored soup stock that is easy to cook with and it basically also is instant dashi. Where Hondashi refers to the specific instant dashi product “Hondashi”, Dashi no moto refers to all instant dashi where No moto means “of base”, so dashi soup base.
It makes cooking with dashi a lot easier and quicker and it can work in a wide variety of dishes.
It’s easy to dissolve in water and it has the natural, rich umami flavor of dried bonito.
Dashi vs. Hondashi vs. Dashi No Moto: Recipes
Dashi, dashi no moto, and hondashi can be substituted for one another, but here are some dishes that are recommended as being suitable for each.
- Pan-Fried Tofu in Dashi: Dashi is perfect for giving tofu that extra kick. Add daikon radish to add even more interest.
- Dashi Furikake: Furikake is a seasoning often used as a topping for steamed rice. It can be made with the same konbu and katsuobushi you used to make your dashi. Alternately, you can use the leftover dashi to give your rice extra flavor.
- Homemade Dashi Stock: A classic way to enjoy dashi, this soup dish can be enjoyed on its own and it is versatile enough to be used in a variety of dishes.
- Nimono: Nimono is a Japanese dish that consists of simmered foods, typically chicken and vegetables. They are simmered in soup stock and hondashi makes the perfect base, especially when mixed with white wine, soy sauce, and sugar.
- Cooked Rice: Hondashi makes a terrific topping for cooked rice. Add a bit of sake, soy sauce, mirin, and salt to bring out the flavor.
- For Miso Soup: Mix hondashi with miso soup to take the flavor to the next level.
Big miso soup fan? Be sure to read How Often Can I Eat Miso Soup? This is what the experts say.
Dashi No Moto Recipes
- Dashi Shake Fries: Dashi no moto makes the perfect alternative to salt when used on French fries.
- Dashi Mayo Vegetable Sticks: Mix dashi no moto with mayonnaise (use this Japanese kewpie kind!) to make a great dip for your raw veggies.
- Dashi Butter Steak: Combine dashi no moto with butter. Then let it melt into your steak to elevate the taste.
But of course, you can use all of these with each type, although making dishes with fresh home-made dashi is always best :)
Dashi vs. Hondashi vs. Dashi No Moto: Nutrition
When comparing these three stock ingredients, dashi no moto may be the easiest and most versatile to use in the kitchen, but it loses out when it comes to nutrition.
Homemade dashi is made with all-natural ingredients.
Dashi no moto, on the other hand, is processed. It may also contain MSG which many claim is not good for your health.
People say it has been linked to cancer, headaches, and other health issues. However, this has never been scientifically proven.
It should also be noted that any dashi that isn’t advertised as dashi no moto but is sold as powdered dashi is in fact a processed food product and should be called dashi no moto.
Dashi vs. Hondashi vs. Dashi No Moto: Prep Time
Although it may seem like a pain to make dashi as opposed to buying dashi no moto or another type of dashi in its powdered form, it is not that difficult to mix up a batch yourself.
It only requires a few simple ingredients and typically takes just ten minutes to make.
If you love the rich umami taste of Japanese soup, hondashi, dashi, and dashi no moto will all get you the flavor you are looking for.
But if you’re looking to make the best stuff yourself, check out my article on how to make a dashi stock with kombu and shiitake, which is probably the easiest way you can get started.
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