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A Taste of Japan

April 27, 2011
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My uncle lives in Tokyo.  Recently, he sent this small canister of colorful packets to his sister, my aunt, who then sent them along to me.  The canister, while beautifully decorated, offered no clue to the nature of its contents.

I’ve seen instant green tea powder packaged similarly, so I asked my aunt if this was also some kind of beverage.  According to her, my uncle said the packets could be enjoyed as a hot beverage or used as a seasoning for cooking.

The fuschia packet contained tiny green pellets mixed with small pink granules, while the orange packet contained only the green pellets.  Assuming the orange and fuschia packets signified different flavors, I mixed up a small glass of each with a bit of hot water.

The mix foamed up in hot water, and I stirred it until the pellets dissolved.  When I took my first sip, I was still expecting green tea, perhaps infused with fruit flavors.  To my surprise, the resulting potion in both glasses was salty, with a hint of seaweed flavor.  In fact, it tasted just like the dashi used as the base for miso soup.  Strangely, the small, pink granules from the fuschia packet did taste tangy and fruity, which made for an interesting contrast with the saltiness of the broth.  A bit of Google searching turned up a type of seasoning called “dashi granules” — essentially the Japanese equivalent of Western boullion cubes.  I’m fairly convinced that this is what I’ve got here.

Other than mixing up some instant miso soup, do you have any suggestions for how to use dashi granules?  Have any of you cooked with them before?

  1. Jeff permalink
    April 27, 2011 8:55 am

    Haven’t cooked with instant dashi before,. but you could do all kinds of things with it, like. . .
    . . .add it to broth for steaming dumplings or vegetables
    . . .use it as an ingredient in marinades for fish or tofu
    . . .for the tangy, fruity ones, how about muffins with lemon zest and poppyseed?

  2. Lorrie permalink
    April 27, 2011 9:04 am

    I have a few recipes for you from Edible Austin – Ponzu, Sour Daikon, and Ocha Zuke Broth.

  3. Sarah permalink
    April 27, 2011 9:54 am

    We’ve been using dashi a lot in soups. Scott gets a lot of his Japanese cooking tips from Cooking with Dog on YouTube.

  4. Kathy permalink
    April 27, 2011 12:29 pm

    I’ve only used the dashi granules for making up broth to use in soups, curries, and other braised vegetable/meat dishes. I like the granules because I only need to mix up a small amount if that’s all I need. Some recipes also call for dashi in dipping sauces like for tempura or dumplings.

  5. Uncle Who Lives in Japan permalink
    April 27, 2011 10:51 pm

    Nice sequential presentation of the contents. The container is indeed beautiful. As to the contents, you can drink it like bullion soup in place of tea (although use about half the water you used in the glasses) or pour the dissolved pellets (as dashi) over an individual portion of white rice, called “ocha zuke” (food served in tea). The brown packet is probably “kombu” (seaweed) and the pink one is probably “sakura” (cherry blossoms) or maybe “umeboshi” (sour plums).

  6. April 28, 2011 8:35 am

    Thanks for the suggestions, y’all!

  7. April 28, 2011 8:36 am

    Thanks, Uncle David! I think the pink packet must be sakura, because I don’t care for umeboshi (it’s the shiso they pickle it with — bleh, I can’t eat anything with shiso in it). My friend Lorrie just supplied me with a recipe for ocha zuke, too! I’ll have fun experimenting, and it’s nice to know you’re following the blog from afar.

  8. Mishka permalink
    May 2, 2011 7:54 pm

    salmon ocha zuke from bstar bar near our old house is officially donovan’s favoritest brunch food ever.

    green tea + crunchy rice + poached egg + salmon + pickled ginger.

    you should make this. also, when you come here, we will go eat this.

  9. May 3, 2011 12:55 pm

    Yes, yes, and yes please.

  10. Auntie M permalink
    May 4, 2011 7:18 am

    I’m so glad you found some creative ways to use the packets. We still have another tin at Grandma’s for us to try out, so I thought you would experiment, just as you have. Many thanks to David for bringing the tins state-side during his last visit. Now that you have come up with ways to utilize the bullion, I’ll get to it too!

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