TIME: 2 HOURS; SERVES: ~1 QUART
Sea vegetables aren’t widely consumed in America, unless you eat a ton of sushi or buy those seasoned nori snack sheets. Seaweed comes in all forms (Dulse, Nori, Kombu, Wakame…), and has incredible health benefits. It is high in iodine, iron, glutamic acid, and digestive enzymes—all essential components that are lacking in the American diet. The American Thyroid organization states that over 1/3 of the world’s population is iodine-deficient, and because our bodies don’t naturally produce it, it’s important to consume iodine-rich foods for a properly functioning thyroid (the gland that regulates much of our hormonal & metabolic function).
Vegetarian and vegan folks are typically deficient because iodine is found primarily in seafood. Incorporating sustainably harvested sea vegetables is a great way to add these necessary minerals and enzymes to our diet. Kombu, the seaweed that is the base of Dashi, has a mild, umami flavor and is a nutritional powerhouse. I keep a couple quarts of homemade Dashi in my fridge to use as an alternative to bone broth. By adding smoked bonito flakes (katsuo dashi), you’ll have an even more flavorful broth that can be used as the base of miso soup, various sauces, or my favorite—as a simple sipping broth.
2 quarts water
2 sheets kombu (each 3” x 5”)
1 cup packed, smoked bonito flakes (opt.)
In a medium saucepan, combine the kombu and water and let soak for about 1 hour.
Place the pot over medium heat and bring to a gentle simmer, careful not to boil. Turn heat down to low, and cook for another 30 minutes, until the kombu can be easily pierced. Remove the kombu with tongs (and save to make seaweed salad!)
If adding the bonito flakes, sprinkle over the strained, hot dashi and push down with a spoon but do not stir. Let steep for 5 - 10 minutes.
Strain the dashi through a fine sieve. If not using immediately, let cool, then cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days.