Dashi is an essential ingredient in traditional Japanese cuisine. It is most prevalent in Japanese, Chinese, and Korean cuisines.
Dashi is a family of stock used for making your favorite Japanese soups such as miso soup, noodle broth soup, etc. You can also use this for making other famous Japanese food such as okonomiyaki and takoyaki. Dashi is mainly used to accentuate the umami or the savory flavor of the food.
Some dishes where dashi is commonly used include:
- Miso Soup
- Ramen Soup
- Japanese Chicken Curry
- Ika Donburi
- Shish Kebab
- Beef Udon
You can buy instant dashi powder at an Asian grocery store or by going to the Asian aisle of any major grocery store. Dashi is a must-have ingredient in your pantry, not just for your Japanese or other Asian dishes, but for most of your everyday meals to make the flavor more appealing.
But what if you accidentally miss adding dashi to your grocery list or run out of it while planning on your next meal? Here are some of the top picks for the best dashi powder substitute that will surely give you umami goodness.
12 Best Substitute For Dashi Powder
MSG – Monosodium Glutamate
No matter which Asian household you go to, MSG is something that is absolute, and would go well as a substitute for dashi powder. MSG or Monosodium Glutamate is a flavor enhancer widely known to intensify the umami taste of basically any food.
You might not have realized it, but that Chinese food you keep ordering has MSG to make you addicted to its taste.
MSG is a white powder with glutamic acid, seaweed, sugar beets, and other vegetables. It can also be used as a partial replacement for salt because of its sodium content.
While there may be some doubts about the effects of using MSG on your food, the U.S Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has classified it to be generally safe.
Soy sauce is a fundamental ingredient, and I’m sure any home would have it in their kitchen. It’s one of those necessities you will see on your grocery list when you go to the supermarket.
It is easy to find, is also generally cheap, and has a wide variety where you can choose from. It is also fun and easy to make.
Soy sauce is a commodity food, and it has been used to add flavor to food for over 2000 years. It helps prevent spoiling in food, and preservation. Nowadays, you can get this in any store for a low price.
It is perfect for almost any dish, such as soups, stir-fried food, or stews. You can also use it on your salads and dips or put it in a marinade or glazed meat for your barbeque party to add savory flavor.
Soy sauce is high in antioxidants, which help delay cell damage. It also has the benefit of reducing menopause symptoms and improving cholesterol levels.
Most kinds of meat are a staple in our pantry and are mostly known for consumption. However, leftover bones of chicken meat are one of the best substitutes for dashi powder.
You might get confused a little, but chicken broth and chicken stock differ in flavor. Chicken stock comes from roasted bones, which were simmered for hours on the stove.
The long process of making chicken stock makes that collagen pulled from the bone and gives it a more intense flavor best for making sauce.
On the other hand, chicken broth is made of meat and bones, simmered on a stove for a short amount of time. The method used for making chicken broth gives off a light chicken flavor perfect for soups.
If you want to make it more flavorful, you can continue to simmer the chicken broth after removing all of the ingredients and let it be until it is reduced by one-third. This method will intensify the flavor to another level.
Using chicken broth as a substitute for dashi powder will not only give you the best natural umami flavor for your meal, but it will also help your body build and repair your bones, skin, muscles, and blood cells.
Chicken broth is known to be rich in essential nutrients for the body, such as fatty acids and protein. [Source]
Dried Shiitake Mushroom
These cute little mushrooms are also one of the best to use when you are missing dashi powder in your pantry. Dried Shiitake Mushrooms are easy to use, affordable, and trendy ingredients.
Since it is a popular ingredient, you can easily find it in most grocery stores. Aside from that, you also have the option to grow shiitake mushrooms in your own home and make homemade dried shiitake mushrooms instead.
Unlike the fresh ones, dried shiitake mushrooms have an intense smoky flavor and a meaty taste which exudes the rich umami flavor almost the same as dashi powder.
It is perfect to use in making soups, grilled snacks, and simmering food. It is also a good substitute for vegans since it is a plant-based ingredient but will still satisfy your tongue for some meaty flavor experience.
Dried shiitake mushrooms are also rich in nutrients and minerals that can help boost your immune system, fight cancer, and support your heart. It is also suitable for your bones and as part of your diet.
Kombu is an edible seaweed that is commonly used as part of the ingredients in making dashi powder. It is a sea vegetable that belongs to the brown algae family, also known as kelp.
It is a good source of amino acid responsible for the umami flavor of food called glutamic acid.
To use kombu as a dashi powder substitute, you have to rehydrate it with cold water before you boil it. The extract of kombu, after it cooks, produces that rich umami flavor you want and is perfect for making your favorite soup, such as miso soup and noodle soup.
This little green monster also has a lot of health benefits for your body. Kombu is a potential treatment for preventing cancer, improving thyroid function and digestive system, and reducing gas.
It also helps stimulate the body’s circulation, which aids to stave off anemia.
Cube broth is one of the genius life hacks you might learn when substituting dashi powder. It is almost the same as instant dashi powder but in cube form.
Cube broth is an excellent item to add to your grocery list to spice up the flavor of your everyday meals, just in case you haven’t yet.
It comes in various flavors, such as chicken, pork, beef, or vegetable. Depending on the brand, the level of taste and consistency of the cube broth might differ.
Cube broth is easy to use, too. It is a concentrated flavored powder in a cube, and just by adding it to your dish, it will not make you miss your dashi experience for its umami flavor.
Dried Bonito Shavings/ Flakes
Katsuobushi or dried bonito is dried, smoked tuna, often used to replace dashi. It has a smoky and savory taste that mimics the umami flavor of dashi. You can eat it as it is, as toppings, or as an ingredient to add to the aromatic taste.
Most grocery stores sell dried bonito in shavings or flakes, but you can also grab it as a chunk and make your shavings out of it.
Vegetable Soup Stock
As the name suggests, vegetable soup stock is made by simmering vegetables, meat, and herbs in water. A few ingredients often used to make vegetable soup stock are carrots, onions, celery, leeks, garlic, and tomatoes.
You can use vegetable scraps and throw them in the pot to make your vegetable dashi.
The method for making this dashi stand in is straightforward and practical for people who don’t want to waste food. Glutamic acid can also be found in vegetable soup stocks, resulting in the umami taste sensation.
Vegetable soup stocks are good for your health because they contain many vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin K and potassium, which help with blood clotting and bone health.
It also contains antioxidants that are good for the heart, reducing the risk of infections and some forms of cancer.
Mentsuyu, or noodle stock, is one of the famous sauces used in Japanese cuisine. It is an all-purpose ingredient commonly used in soups such as soba, udon, ramen, and somen.
Mentsuyu almost looks like soy sauce as it is one of the ingredients used in making it, including dried bonito, kelp, sugar, and mirin. It also contains dashi which produces glutamic acid to create a savory flavor.
Seafood stock is quite similar to vegetable soup stock and chicken broth. The general method for producing this ingredient is by simmering leftover shellfish, like crab, lobster, or shrimp shells. The seafood flavor of the seafood stock is suitable for making broth and soups, such as ramen.
The lifespan of seafood stock depends on whether it is preserved or not. If stored and refrigerated, you can use it for 3-5 days. For long-term preservation, you may opt to freeze it in your freezer.
Hondashi translated as “real broth,” is a soup-based ingredient with a fundamental basis in Japanese cooking. It is used mainly as a base for miso soup, sukiyaki, soba, and udon soup.
It comes as a coarse powder and is very rare in any grocery store outside of Asia. The raw materials used in making hondashi include dried bonito shavings, kombu, small dried sardine, flying fish, and shiitake mushrooms. Most of the ingredients used in making hondashi are known to have umami flavor.
While most people know it as simply a tea, kombu tea or Japanese kombucha is a suitable replacement for dashi. It is a soluble ingredient perfect for adding to soups and stir-fried dishes.
Some kombu tea comes in various flavors, such as plum flavor, but using the original seaweed kombu is the best for cooking. The fermented, light-salted taste and savory flavor of kombu are what you want to have for the best dashi experience in cooking your favorite dishes.
Kombu tea is also known to have high iron, calcium, and iodine content. Adding it to your dishes gives it a lot of health benefits to the body, such as lowering cholesterol, promoting weight loss, and boosting the immune system.