Thursday, October 17, 2013

Dashi-Poached Salmon

I've been reading a lot about dashi lately, the Japanese broth that is the base of a lot of other dishes, like miso soup and certain types of ramen. You can also use it for braising or poaching, which is how I cooked this salmon.

bonita flakes and kombu
Bonita flakes and kombu are the key ingredients in dashi.
Although dashi has a mild flavor, its important property is that it enhances savory (i.e. "umami") flavors since it is high in glutamates. It's very simple: steep a piece of dried seaweed (kombu) in nearly boiling water, then add dried fish (bonito flakes), steep and strain. The resulting broth is lightly colored with a bit of sea flavor from the kombu and smoke from the bonito, which actually smells a bit like bacon.

Making dashi

In looking to see what others have gone, I found surprisingly few recipes for salmon braised in dashi. I really liked Myra Kornfeld's recipe, which also includes ginger, soy sauce and sugar. I topped the salmon with fresh chives and served it with corn on the cob--the last for the year from my neighborhood farmers market.

Poaching salmon in dashi with soy sauce, ginger and sesame seeds.

Dashi-Poached Salmon
Adapted from Braised Salmon in Dashi by Myra Kornfeld

2 cups dashi (see recipe below)
2 tbsp. soy sauce (may use low-sodium)
1 tbsp. sugar
2 tsp. minced fresh ginger
2 tsp. toasted sesame oil (sadly, I was out of this when I made this, so I tossed a handful of sesame seeds into the mix)
3/4 lb. salmon fillet
2 tbsp. chopped fresh chives

Add dashi to a medium skillet or frying pan with a lid. Bring to a gentle boil. Whisk in the soy sauce, sugar, ginger and sesame oil. Add salmon, skin-side down, cover pan and reduce heat to medium-low to simmer. Cook for about 5 to 10 minutes depending on the thickness of the salmon and how done you like it. Remove salmon from pan, cut off skin and serve topped with a sprinkle of fresh chives.

Finished dashi.


Makes 2 cups (multiply recipe as needed)

2 cups of water
1 piece of kombu, about 6-8 inches long
1/4 cup bonita flakes

Add 2 cups of water and kombu to a medium saucepan and soak for 15-20 minutes. Turn on the heat to medium-high and heat until the water is almost boiling (bubbles are just starting to break on the water's surface). Remove from heat and add the bonita flakes. After about 3-4 minutes, strain out the kombu and bonita, leaving the broth. Refrigerate until ready to use, up to 1 week.


  1. This was a nice way to enliven our weekly salmon dinner. More dashi poaching, please!

  2. Fantastic recipe!! So subtle & delicious.