Iriko Dashi (Niboshi Dashi) Recipe: Japanese Baby Sardine Fish Broth
Fish-flavored broths are the tasty base for many popular Asian dishes.
A Japanese fish broth or dashi made from dried bonito (katsuobushi) is a staple of many Japanese dishes.
In fact, dashi is a crucial step in making soups, broths, and simmered Japanese recipes.
However, there’s another tasty stock you should know about.
Iriko dashi is a liquid stock made from dried anchovies or sardines, and it makes a great best base for miso soup and hot pot.
To make your own iriko dashi, simply soak dried anchovies in water overnight or until completely rehydrated.
Rather cook traditional dashi? Find the recipe for awase dashi with katsuobushi and kombu here
In this post we'll cover:
Make your own iriko dashi at home
I’ve outlined all the steps you need to take to make a good savory iriko dashi at home using only two ingredients.
Iriko Dashi Recipe
- ½ cup dried iriko or dried niboshi dried baby sardines/anchovies
- 4 cups of water
- The fish should be cleaned by removing the head and guts (if the dried fish is larger). This process gets rid of any bitter taste in the dashi. First, cut the head off each fish and cut the bottom of the belly to remove the guts (these have a black color).
- Soak the cleaned fish in the water for at least 30 minutes for light dashi or overnight for a stronger, fishy-flavored iriko dashi stock.
- Now, move the water and fish into a large pot and bring to a boil slowly.
- Let the fish boil for approximately 10 minutes on low heat.
- Once cooked, use a sieve or mesh to drain.
- Transfer to a container or bowl and use right away or store it for later use.
You should only use dried iriko, which is baby sardines, or dried niboshi, which is anchovies.
These two types of fish are used to make this type of dashi instead of kombu seaweed and bonito flakes.
To make sure that your iriko dashi is flavorful, you should soak the fish in water until it is completely rehydrated.
Depending on the quality of the dried seafood, this may take up to 30 minutes or overnight.
You can adjust the amount of iriko dashi you make based on your personal taste and preferences. Many people prefer a more fishy-tasting dashi, so you can use it in larger quantities if desired.
Substitutes and variations
Additionally, you can add other seasoning ingredients like soy sauce and mirin to your iriko dashi for extra flavor and savoriness.
Iriko dashi tastes umami and savory as a result of the fish. If you use substitutes, the flavor may be altered.
But, instead of baby sardines and anchovies, you can use dried kombu seaweed and bonito flakes to make the traditional dashi stock.
How to serve and eat
Iriko dashi is best served as the base for miso soup or simmered dishes like hot pot.
The savory taste makes for a great base flavoring ingredient for all kinds of Asian foods.
Iriko dashi is not served as is – the broth shouldn’t be drunk. Instead, it should be used in recipes to impart a savory and umami flavor to soups and other dishes.
So, you take a quantity of iriko dashi and add it to the broth or dish you’re cooking.
Then you can combine the iriko dashi with mirin, soy sauce, sake, or other flavorful seasonings.
How to store
Iriko dashi can be stored in the fridge for up to 3 days, or frozen for up to 2 months.
Since you make the dashi at home, it doesn’t contain preservatives, so it doesn’t last as long as store-bought stock.
To ensure you’re getting the most out of your iriko dashi, be sure to use it within a few days of making it and store it in an airtight container or freezer-safe bag.
How to use Iriko dashi
Because dried iriko is less expensive than katsuobushi or kombu, iriko dashi is a popular stock choice when making miso soup.
Iriko Dashi makes sense because miso soup is consumed by the Japanese virtually daily. The soup tastes more complex as a result of the strong miso and its saline, distinct flavor, which comes from the dried sardines and anchovies.
Iriko Dashi can also be used in dishes like these:
- foods that are simmered with seaweed, mushrooms, veggies, and soybeans
- Noodle soup with udon
- Strongly flavorful foods
- in combination with kombu dashi
- hot pot
Iriko dashi is just one variety of dashi stock.
Other types of dashi include kombu dashi, a strong-flavored seaweed stock, and shiitake dashi, a mild-flavored stock made from dried shiitake mushrooms.
Like iriko dashi, kombu dashi and shiitake dashi are both used in many Japanese dishes to add a savory and umami flavor.
However, these two stocks may be used in different applications or combined with other ingredients to create unique flavor profiles in soups and dishes.
You can experiment with different types of dashi and use them in your cooking to find a flavor profile that you enjoy the most.
Whether you prefer a more fishy, seaweed-y, or mushroom-y dashi, there are plenty of options to choose from.
Iriko dashi is a popular stock choice when making miso soup and other Japanese dishes due to its strong flavor and savory taste.
To make this dashi, you can soak dried baby sardines and anchovies in water until they are completely rehydrated.
Then, you can adjust the amount of dashi based on your preferences and add other flavoring ingredients like soy sauce or mirin for additional flavor.
Iriko dashi is an interesting and tasty dashi stock to use when you’re bored of the same old bouillon cube or chicken stock!
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.