Dashi is a simple, subtle and fragrant broth usually made from Kombu seaweed and bonito, a tuna-like fish that is smoked and then shaved into super thin pieces. Often shiitakes and even anchovies are added. These are all super-umami foods-the sixth taste sensation that gives a savory deliciousness to food. It has been said that umami triggers the tongue's pleasure center where endorphins are born. I have no idea if this is true, but the seaweed, fish flakes and shiitakes combined have an effect greater than the sum of the parts. It can be the basis of a soup, used to poach vegetables or fish, deglaze pans with it for a sauce, make a savory risotto, use with soba noodles, or really, you can do just about anything with the stuff.
To make things quick and easy, I made it in a French Press so I didn't have to worry about chopping or straining.
1 piece of kombu about 2 inches wide and 4-6 long.
One cup of bonita flakes
3/4 cup of dried, sliced shiitakes
Bring four cups of water to a boil. First, put the Kombu in the French Press, and add hot water. Let it sit for five minutes. Then add shiitake mushroom slices. Let these sit for five minutes. Finally, add the bonita flakes. Wait five to ten minutes and then push the plunge.
Now you have your dashi broth. You can just drink it like a soup, or use it in a variety of ways.
(If you or someone else uses the French press for coffee, be sure and wash it twice.)