If you love Japanese soup and enjoy cooking, it’s likely you have experimented with dashi, hondashi, and dashi no moto.
These are all soup bases that give foods a similar taste, but they are not exactly alike. Basically, Dashi is fresh self-made dashi and the others are a pre-made soup base.
This article will explore the three varieties so you can determine which one works best for your culinary needs.
In this post we'll cover:
What is Dashi?
You can describe Dashi as a soup base which adds “Umami” to a lot of dishes in Japanese cuisine. Like any other base, it can’t 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.
It is implemented in the 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 (or Katsuobushi), and 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 is not widely available outside of Asia, but it’s the name of a product that the Ajinomoto brand produces and it’s really 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 sauce.
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 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 culinary tasks easier and quicker and it can work in a wide variety of dishes.
It is 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 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 hondashi and dashi are 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 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 hondashi and dashi can be sold as powdered processed food products. In these instances, they will not be as fresh and may have questionable ingredients.
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.
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.
However, each will provide a slightly different taste and one may win over another due to the freshness of the ingredients.
Which will you be serving at your dining room table?