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Im trying to figure out the correct balance between kombu and katsuobushi when making dashi. I have read here that the perfect ratio between the glutamate in kombu and inosinate in the katsuobushi is an equal 1:1 ratio.

The problem is how can one attain these ratios or is it pretty much guess work as you never really know how much of each acid in the kombu or katsuobushi. How do you know how much has been extracted, how long to soak each for etc ?

Or does it really make a difference if there is more of one or the other ?

I would appreciate if anyone has any tips on the best way to make the Awase dashi and how to achieve a good synergistic balance that amplifies umami ?

  • Super-challenging question. Given the different grades, shapes, and preparations of both konbu and bonito, I'm not sure that it could be anything except approximation. Here's hoping someone else has a better answer! – FuzzyChef Oct 11 '18 at 23:39
  • Yeah I have a feeling its a though one to answer. I'm just so curious as to how these japanese restaurants balance them perfectly. I'm half thinking i'll just buy some Disodium Inosinate and mix it 1:1 with some MSG :) I'm not looking for the briny taste from the Kombu, just its glutamates so a MSG substitute there is fine, but I do want the smokiness from the Katsuobushi. Maybe im just over thinking the whole thing and just find good quality ingredients and experiments until I find the right balance, that could be a long expensive process though ! – JCoder23 Oct 12 '18 at 11:25
  • Well, presumably the restaurants have reliable supplies of specific ingredients that they use that are fairly consistent. And lots of experience using them. – FuzzyChef Oct 12 '18 at 21:28
  • I just came to a realisation that the kombu industry is not too dis-similar from the wine industry in some ways. They both have different regions that grow different variations, use different ageing techniques to produce different types of flavours. – JCoder23 Oct 12 '18 at 23:17
  • Yes. Katsuobushi is the same way, at the high end. When I've been to Japanese markets, they have anywhere from a bay to an entire aisle of seaweed & bonito choices. – FuzzyChef Oct 14 '18 at 2:58
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Measure both with weight, start with a ratio you find to be tasty and produce varying kombu to katsuobushi ratios in equal steps, preferably 3 or 5 variations in small batches. Make sure to keep liquids, temperature etc. as much of a constant as you can.

Taste all, make notes and have others taste test them as well. This process should be repeated each time the source of your katsuobushio or kombu changes.

Unless you live in Japan, consistency may be hit and miss.

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Several years ago Dave Arnold tested a process for making dashi using an immersion circulator (sous vide). It is my go-to method. It does eliminate the variable of the katsuobushi, so does not entirely answer your question, but I find that it gives me consistently delicious results. As others have noted, there are many variables here, but at least this controls time, temperature, and amounts of the water and kombu. He settled on 10 grams of kombu per liter of water at 65C for 1 hour. It's easy and consistent. I would recommend reading the article and the comments. There is a lot of info there.

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