A two Michelin starred Chef and his quest for the perfect dashi, makes a gorgeous and heartwarming dish for colder nights.
Dashi is the base of Japanese cuisine. An indispensable cooking broth most commonly made from kombu (kelp seaweed) and katsuobushi (dried bonito flakes). Its umami taste enhances and harmonizes preparations and Chef Eric Vildgaard built an outstanding course with his own version of it.
“To me, dashi is one of the most beautiful and pure things that you can make. Great dashi is a declaration of love to your guests. At first, I didn’t really get it, though. I tried to make dashi using regular kombu seaweed and ordinary mirin and katsuobushi. But the greatness and beauty didn’t really come through. I couldn’t understand why, so I educated myself a bit more on the subject.
Through my supplier YesChef, I got my hands on the so-called Rausu kombu. It is a very potent type of seaweed harvested around the city of Rausu on the island of Hokkaido. It contains glutamic acid in very high amounts, which is what gives the seaweed a very intense umami. I also managed to find some katsuobushi of the highest grade. Katsuobushi is bonito tuna that has been dried, fermented, and smoked, and it comes in many grades of quality, which I wasn’t aware of at first. But I soon found out that the quality of the highest grade is not at all comparable to the lowest.”
“Finally, some good mirin was needed. Mirin is a subtly sweet rice wine widely used in Japanese cooking. Again, quality is key. Yeschef supplied me with an aged variety, which is a really refined product offering a quality of taste that has nothing to do with the standard mirin. When I made my dashi using these products, I could finally see clearly. The taste was clean, intense, and vastly superior to what I had made before.
Once again, the fact that we are never better than the quality of our products, was underlined. The products are what carry us. Just like we need to know the difference between caviar and cod roe, we also need to be able to tell the difference between the ordinary and the extraordinary when it comes to seaweed, rice wine, and dried tuna.
Here, the dashi is served with a fried Japanese dumpling called a takoyaki. The dashi frames the takoyaki, to which we add a piece of lobster, adding a set of elegant wings to the dumpling. Serve your guests this soul-warming and aromatic dashi on a cold winter night, and you can almost be sure that it will be a great evening.”
(original text by Lars Roest-Madsen – Photo by Jesper Rais)
Colombian based in Barcelona • Master in Marketing / Gastronomy • PR & Culinary Liaison • Food writer • @nataliabhqz