Dashi vs Kombu: Differences & how to use both

                by Joost Nusselder | Updated:  December 16, 2020

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When you look up Japanese cuisines, one of the first things you are going to see is mentions of dashi or dashi stock. Another ingredient you may commonly see is something called kombu.

You may be wondering if I am cooking a Japanese recipe, which ingredient should you use? Should you pick dashi over kombu? Does one have more uses over the other?

Dashi vs Kombu

Trick question

As a matter of fact, when you use dashi it is very likely you are also using kombu at the same time. This is because of the simple fact that kombu, which is a type of edible kelp, is one of the main ingredients used when dashi is made.

Kombu is not a separate type of stock, though you may see it used in Japanese cuisine for things other than dashi.

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Aside from being used in dashi, kombu goes great in a salad and offers a lot of vitamins and minerals that your body needs. Other than that, kombu and dashi are practically one and the same.

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

The importance of kombu in dashi

While the fish flakes used in the making of dashi are an important ingredient, the kombu in the dashi is the real star of the show. Kombu is loaded with a type of flavor known as umami, which is known for being very savory. It is a taste that is commonly associated with broth and cooked meat. Since dashi is often used for dishes like ramen and miso soup, it makes sense that kombu would be a critical ingredient for dashi.

After all, a bowl of ramen or miso soup would not be the same without that savory taste provided by the dashi. Without the kombu in the dashi, those dishes would provide a less satisfying experience for your tastebuds.

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Also read: can you make dashi with wakame seaweed?

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.