Makes 8 cups broth
Total time: 2 hours || Active time: 20 minutes
(disclaimer: I wasn’t planning on posting this recipe alone, so I didn’t get a shot of the actual broth. This will have to do!)
Dashi, if you’re not familiar, is the deeply umami Japanese broth used to make ramen. Traditionally, it’s made with some fishy ingredients. Literally. Here, we’re simply making a veggie broth, with a healthy dose of kombu, for a slight taste of the sea, and miso, for that fermented deliciousness. I’m going to be posting a whole ramen recipe in just a bit, but I wanted to get the party started and get this broth up first. And you should totally read up more on dashi, its history and technique is definitely worthy of reading about in more than the few sentences I can afford to do here.
But why make your own broth? There are so many varieties available in the supermarket these days, that simmering your own can seem like a hassle. And maybe, compared to simply grabbing some off a shelf, it is. But creating your own scratch-made broth has many benefits. Not everything should be overlooked in the name of convenience!
So here are my top 10 reasons for making your own broth.
Taste is a great place to start. Plenty of pre-made broths taste anywhere from “just fine” to “pretty darn good.” But homemade is simply just better. Fresher, more aromatic, and endlessly customizable to your taste. Make it as salty as you like, add different veggies, more or less garlic, and on and on. And if taste isn’t incentive enough….
I know that you occasionally have an onion laying around, beginning to sprout. Or a few carrots just languishing in the fridge. And how about that last little nub of ginger that will probably wither away eventually. That is (almost) all you need to make this vegetable broth. So let’s just say it’s practically free.
3) Less wasteful
Less packaging and less processing…these things are all great for the planet. We need a planet so that we can do fun things like make vegetable broth!
There is a definite difference between being in a home that has a veggie broth simmering on the stovetop, it’s gentle aroma filling your senses…and being in a home that has bubkis. But honestly, the process of making the broth will improve your mood drastically. From the scent to the sense of accomplishment when sipping your soup, the therapeutic benefits are unsurmountable.
And now the cons…
1) One Passover, not long ago, I spent the day making a metric tonne of broth for the Matzoh Balls. Once it had cooled on the stovetop, my mom threw it out thinking it was garbage. What the hell, mom?
OK, so moms tossing out your creation aside, I’m assuming you’re now completely on board. Find a relaxing time, when you have plans to read or watch a movie or troll the internet or whatever, and then get brothing!
~I prefer to use cheesecloth to strain the broth because that means you can squeeze the boiled veggies and get every bit of flavor, while still having a nice, translucent broth. But if you don’t have it/don’t want it, then don’t worry! Just use a fine mesh colander, and let the veggie drain over a pot.
~This recipe is for a miso dashi broth, but if you leave out the miso, it’s still a really yummy broth! In fact, if you leave out the miso AND the kombu, it’s still delicious. Again, it is endlessly customizable. Add fresh herbs, if you like, or extra garlic, or no garlic, or…you get the picture.
~You can leave the skin on the onion since everything gets strained. It actually may increase the golden hue of the broth in the end. You don’t have to peel the ginger or garlic, either. Fun.
~Mirin is an ingredient I always have around. It’s a sweet rice wine that just makes flavors pop. I use it most often in stirfries, but it definitely adds a depth to the broth. However, you can totally leave it out. Again: customizable.
1 tablespoon oil (peanut, sesame or canola are all good choices)
1 large yellow onion, diced large
3 cloves garlic, smashed
2 large carrots, cut into 1 inch chunks
1 inch piece of ginger, sliced
12 cups cold water
2 sheets kombu, cut into 3 inch strips
2 tablespoons mirin (optional, see note)
3 tablespoons mellow white miso
2 teaspoons salt
Preheat a large pot over medium-high heat. Saute the onion and garlic in oil with a pinch of salt for about 5 minutes, just to get a little caramelization going.
Add the carrots, ginger and water. Cover and bring to a boil. Once boiling, leave the lid slightly ajar so that steam can escape, and lower heat a bit, simmering to reduce by about 1/3rd. After about 30 minutes, add the kombu. Let cook an additional 30 minutes or so, removing the kombu at this point so that it doesn’t get slimy. All said, it should simmer for a little over an hour, and reduce to 8 cups.
Add the mirin, miso and salt and stir. Let simmer for an additional 2 minutes, then turn off the heat.
Place a separate pot, large enough to manage 8 cups of broth, in the sink. Place a handled strainer so that it sits securely on top of the pot (as pictured). Line with a few layers of cheesecloth with plenty of overhang. Pour in the vegetables and broth and let strain for about 20 minutes.
Once cool enough to handle, bunch up the cheesecloth and squeeze, so that the vegetables release as much moisture and flavor as possible.
Taste for salt again, and now your broth is ready to use! Freeze in tightly sealed plastic or glass containers for up to 3 months, if not using within the week.