The Ultimate Guide: The 11 Best Substitutes For Dashi

The 11 Best Dashi Substitutes

Asian cuisine is known for its distinctive and flavorful dishes, especially Japanese cuisine. One of the essential ingredients in Japanese cuisine is dashi stock, which contributes a rich and distinctive flavor known as umami. However, finding dashi can sometimes be a challenge, necessitating the use of substitutes that can replicate its unique flavor. In this article, we will explore the 11 best dashi substitutes.

1. Shiro Dashi

Shiro dashi is a soup base or broth that combines white soy sauce, mirin, and sugar with either bonito or kombu dashi. This substitute is a good alternative because it already contains dashi in its ingredients. However, it tends to be on the sweeter side due to the addition of mirin and sugar. When using shiro dashi, it is important to be careful with the seasoning to avoid excessive saltiness.

2. Mentsuyu

Mentsuyu is another soup base made with mirin, sugar, dashi (either bonito or kombu), and brown soy sauce. Traditionally used in noodle soup dishes such as udon or soba, mentsuyu’s flavorful broth makes it a suitable substitute for dashi. It is important to note that due to its ingredients, mentsuyu has a stronger flavor profile than dashi, so careful consideration should be given to seasoning.

3. Kombu-Tsuyu (Kombu-Dashi)

Kombu-Tsuyu, also known as Kombu-Dashi, is a kelp-based broth that contains soy sauce, mirin, sugar, and mushroom extract. This substitute is ideal for those seeking a more pronounced kelp flavor. Due to its intense flavor and complexity, it is recommended that Kombu-Tsuyu be used with minimal additional seasonings or ingredients.

4. Hondashi

Hondashi is a dashi concentrate available in granular form. It consists primarily of bonito flakes and some form of kelp extract. Hondashi is a convenient option for those who prefer a concentrated dashi flavor without the need for a stock base. Its granules can be added directly to dishes to enhance their umami flavor.

5. Dried Bonito Shavings

Dried bonito flakes are a common ingredient in traditional dashi. They are made from fermented and smoked skipjack tuna. While using dried bonito shavings as a dashi substitute may require some additional steps, such as steeping in hot water to extract the flavor, they can provide a similar umami taste.

6. Kombu Tea

Kombu tea is made by infusing dried seaweed (kombu) in hot water. Although it may not replicate the exact flavor profile of dashi, kombu tea can add a subtle umami flavor to dishes. It is an easy and accessible substitute for dashi, especially when dashi itself is not readily available.

7. Shio Kombu (salted seaweed)

Shio kombu, or salted seaweed, is a preserved seaweed product that has been flavored with salt. While it may not have the same depth of flavor as dashi, shio kombu can add a unique umami flavor to dishes. It can be used as a condiment or added directly to soups, stews, or rice dishes for an extra dimension of flavor.

8. Tororo Kombu (shredded kelp)

Tororo kombu, also known as shredded kelp, is another alternative to dashi. It is made by finely shredding dried kelp into thin strips. Tororo kombu can be used as a garnish for various dishes or added to broths and sauces to add a subtle umami flavor.

9. Shiitake Mushroom Broth

Shiitake Stock is a vegetarian substitute for dashi that offers a rich and earthy flavor. By simmering dried shiitake mushrooms in water, you can create a flavorful broth that can be used in a variety of Japanese dishes. The mushroom stock provides a distinct umami flavor similar to dashi.

10. Chicken Stock

Chicken stock can be used as a non-traditional substitute for dashi. While it may not replicate the exact flavor profile of dashi, chicken stock can add depth and richness to dishes. It is particularly suitable for non-Japanese recipes that require a savory stock base.

11. Fish Stock

Fish stock, such as homemade fish stock or commercial fish stock, can be used as an alternative to dashi. It provides a distinct seafood flavor that can enhance the flavor of various Japanese dishes. Fish stock can be used as a base for soups, stews, or sauces, adding a unique umami element.
In conclusion, although dashi is a fundamental ingredient in Japanese cuisine, there are several substitutes that can replicate its rich and specific flavor. Shiro dashi, mentsuyu, kombu tsuyu, hondashi, dried bonito shavings, kombu tea, shio kombu, tororo kombu, shiitake mushroom stock, chicken stock, and fish stock are all viable options. Each substitute offers its own unique characteristics and flavor profile, so experiment to find the best alternative for your specific dish. Whether you are vegetarian, prefer a specific flavor, or simply cannot find dashi, these substitutes can help you achieve a similar umami experience in your Japanese cooking.


What is Dashi and why would I need a substitute?

Dashi is a traditional Japanese stock that adds a unique umami flavor to dishes. Sometimes it can be difficult to find dashi or its ingredients. In these cases, substitutes can help replicate the distinctive taste of dashi.

Can I use these substitutes in any recipe that calls for dashi?

Yes, these substitutes can be used in a variety of recipes that call for dashi. However, it is important to consider the flavor profile and adjust the seasoning accordingly for best results.

Are these alternatives suitable for vegetarians or vegans?

Yes, some of the substitutes listed, such as shiro dashi, kombu tsuyu, and shiitake mushroom stock, are vegetarian or vegan friendly. They are alternatives to traditional dashi, which often contains bonito flakes, a type of fish.

Are the substitutes as flavorful as dashi?

While the substitutes aim to replicate the umami flavor of dashi, they may have slightly different flavor profiles. Some substitutes, such as Mentsuyu or Kombu-Tsuyu, offer a stronger flavor due to additional ingredients. It’s important to adjust the amounts used to achieve the desired flavor.

Can I make these substitutes at home or do I have to buy them?

Many of the substitutes can be made at home using readily available ingredients. For example, kombu tsuyu or shiitake mushroom stock can be made by steeping kombu or dried shiitake mushrooms in water. However, if convenience is a priority, some substitutes, such as hondashi or commercial fish stock, can be purchased.

Can I save these substitutes for future use?

Yes, most of these substitutes can be stored for later use. Homemade versions can be refrigerated for a few days or frozen for longer storage. Commercially available substitutes usually come with instructions for proper storage and shelf life. Always follow the recommended storage guidelines to maintain quality and flavor.