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Best Substitutes For Dashi That Bring That Umami Punch

Maria Foster
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by Maria Foster

One flavor that is prominent in any Japanese dish is umami. This means that the dish is almost savory and meaty yet has a little sweet undertone. And this is achieved by using Dashi. 

Substitutes For Dashi

Dashi is a stock that is extremely popular in soups, sauces, stews, and broths as it has a unique flavor.

However, if you can’t find Dashi or prefer to follow a more meat-free diet, then you may need some other options. 

Below are 5 of the best substitutes for Dashi. From the humble Soy Sauce to Shitake Mushrooms, there are plenty of ingredients that will give you that umami punch. 

Keep reading to find out what substitutes you can use to complete your dish!

Substitutes ProteinSubstitute RatioCalories 
Chicken Broth1.6g 1:115 Kcals
White Fish 38g1 filet265 Kcals
Shiitake Mushroom & Seaweed Broth0.5g1:113 Kcals
Tamari 0.6g1 teaspoon3.6 Kcals 
Shellfish 33g1 cup173 Kcals

What Does Dashi Taste Like?

Dashi is a staple within Japanese cooking and even ventures out into other cultures and cuisines. It is made from Kombu seaweed and water to form a type of stick. 

It has a strong umami flavor and brings all of the punch to your dish. Dashi stands out from other stocks thanks to its deep umami flavor, which has a distinct sweet and savory touch.

Dashi is most commonly used in broths and soup dishes such as Ramen or even as a marinade for fish and meats. 

You can easily find powdered or even liquid Dashi in Asian grocery stores but you may not have one in your area.

Below are 5 substitutes that provide that gorgeous umami flavor when you don’t have Dashi to hand. 

Nutritional Value Of Dashi 

37 Kcal5.3g1.9g0g0g

Substitutes For Dashi 

1. Chicken Broth

Chicken Broth may be a little surprising when you first think of it. How could chicken substitute for seaweed? Well, a type of Dashi called Tori Dashi is made from chicken and pork bones. 

It has a slightly sweeter taste than regular Dashi but it still provides that gorgeous umami flavor. 

You can add Chicken Broth to any dish that you would typically add Dashi to and use it in the exactly same way.

You may want to add a dash of soy sauce or dried seaweed to perfect that unique flavor. 

You can make Chicken Broth at home from the carcass of a chicken. Perfect for keeping costs low and for getting more out of your meat. Or you can purchase some from the store!

2. White Fish 

One flavor that is extremely prominent in Dashi is fish. This is what adds that umami flavor and really makes it the powerhouse that it is. 

This means that White Fish works perfectly for substituting Dashi. It must be a mild, non-oily white fish to keep that gorgeous flavor that Dashi is known for.

Using red meat can overpower your dish and ruin everything. 

Catfish, tilefish, halibut, bass, cod, haddock, and snapper are a few examples of white flesh fish.

When using White Fish as a sub for Dashi, use one filter for every one cup of Dashi you would use. This gives you more control and stops you from going overboard. 

It also works as your protein for your dish. 

3. Shiitake Mushrooms & Dried Seaweed

Shiitake Mushrooms and Dried Seaweed are some of the most popular substitutes for Dashi. It provides that deep Earthy flavor while still giving a nice umami pop. 

You are essentially going to boil your Shiitake Mushrooms and use the broth as your substitute.

Make sure to test the mushrooms’ softness by pinching one of them. It only needs to simmer for 10 to 30 minutes to be ready.

This is an excellent substitute when making broths or soups. It is also a great vegan option as you are simply using veggies from the Earth. 

For every cup of Dashi you would use, use one cup of your Shiitake Mushroom and Seaweed Broth. This will give you the same richness that Dashi will without being too overpowering. 

4. Tamari

Tamari is another great substitute for Dashi and it is an extremely popular ingredient within Japanese cuisine. Tamari is similar to Soy Sauce but holds a much richer flavor and is less salty in taste. 

It is made from fermented soybeans and is unique to Soy Sauce as it is made from wheat. This gives it a lot of flavor and a much thicker consistency that is great for dipping sauces to add flavor. 

You can use Tamari straight from the bottle for a concentrated intensity. Or you can combine it with water and a little sugar to help enhance the umami flavors. 

If using Tamari in its concentrated form, only use a few teaspoons as it can quickly become too strong and take over the dish. 

5. Shellfish

Got some shrimp or mussels that are just taking up space in your fridge? Use them as your Dashi substitutes. 

Much like White Fish, Shellfish is awesome for adding that salty, umami flavor that we love from Dashi. You want to focus on shrimp and prawns but any Shellfish will work. 

Using the shrimp scraps to make a Dashi broth is a great way to minimize waste and to bring everything together.

From ramen to soups, Shellfish adds a powerful punch of flavor that you would never expect. 

1. Chankonabe

Chankonabe is an extremely nutrient-rich stew that is popular throughout all of Japan. Especially within the Sumo Wrestling community. 

Serve with sticky rice, a refreshing beer, and some fried chicken. This is a great dish for a Friday night when you want all of the flavors without the cost of eating out. 

2. Monjayaki

Monjayaki, a dish made with pan-fried batter and made with fish broth, and wheat flour, is a delicacy of the Kant area of Japan.

It may not look appetizing but it is incredibly delicious and full of flavor.

It is a typical meal that is served during Buddhist ceremonies or simply enjoyed by families at home. It is comforting and just screams comfort. 

3. Miso Soup

Miso Soup is a staple in every household across Japan and is quickly becoming a favorite within America.It is full of nutrients and boasts a strong umami flavor. 

It is often served as an appetizer in Japanese restaurants but it works great as a light lunch. Top with fresh scallions for a vibrant crunch in every bite. 

Final Thoughts  

Dashi is an essential ingredient within Japanese cuisine. It is a popular type of fish stock that can be found in every kitchen across the nation and is now becoming known in the U.S.

However, finding Dashi may not be easy. Most grocery stores do not carry Dashi and when they do, it goes fast. 

Above are 5 of the best substitutes for Dashi that offer that incredible umami flavor. Many can be found in your kitchen already and are incredibly inexpensive. 

Check them out and discover a whole new world of flavor and technique. All you have to do is get in the kitchen!

About Maria Foster
Maria Foster
Maria Foster is a mother of 3 and she and her husband of 23 years share their home with 2 faithful dogs. Besides being CEO of the household and active in her community, Maria is the lead contributor to Food Champs and loves to try new food ideas and kitchen accessories to make easier and more delicious meals.
Maria Foster
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