I had always wondered why my miso soup did not taste like a miso soup from an authentic Japanese restaurant and dashi is the reason. It is a soup broth traditionally made from kombu (seaweed) and bonito flakes (dried tuna). For a vegetarian version, just skip the bonito flakes.
Which might be a good idea since they were so hard to find! I have lots of Chinese markets in my neighbourhood but they do not carry what are considered Japanese ingredients. I had to go to T&T to find them.
First you want to take a piece of seaweed and let it soak in 2 cups of water. Then heat over medium heat on the stove until bubbles form but do not boil.
Add 1/2 cup of bonito flakes (if using).
Take off heat and cover.
Let sit 5-10 minutes. Strain.
The broth was not super clear so I got out a coffee filter and ran the broth through it.
Amazing clear Japanese dashi!
Here is the video version.
Today I intend to take my homemade dashi and make my own miso soup with it! I hope it tastes just like the miso I get at Japanese restaurants. There is nothing like it.
BTW: You can fortify the dashi by making a mushroom broth with shiitakes first.