Shirodashi is made from salt, sugar, soy sauce, and various types of dashi (soup stock). It definitely upgrade so many kinds of Japanese cuisine by adding great koku and umami to the dish.
But, what if you can’t find any of it?
You can actually substitute other dashi products for shirodashi. For example, dashi granules, mentsuyu, chicken stock powder, etc.
However, some of you may want to hear ideas that are more authentic shirodashi alternatives.
Here, I would like to introduce 6 best substitutes for shirodashi.
There is also a bonus idea at the end, so please take a look to the end!
Bonito & Kombu Dashi + Sake + Mirin + Soy sauce
If you want to make an authentic shirodashi alternative, this is the best way to do.
Please try to make it according to the following procedure.
1. Soak the kombu in water for 1 hour to 1 night.
2. Put (1) and dried bonito shavings in your pot, and heat up.
3. Take out the kombu just before the water boils.
4. Boil for about 2 minutes, then turn off the heat and leave for about 30 minutes.
5. Strain the broth with a colander covered with paper towel.
6. Put sake and mirin in another pot, and heat up to burn off alcohol.
7. Mix (5) and (6), then, add soy sauce.
If you are using light-colored soy sauce (usukuchi-shoyu), the color becomes nice and yellowish just like the real shirodashi. But, it’s totally fine to use normal soy sauce if you can’t get any of it.
Dashi granules + Sake + Mirin + Soy sauce
Making dashi from scratch is absolutely the best way to taste great flavor of dashi.
However, it’s hassle to do that especially when you are busy. So, using dashi granules is much easier for those of you!
1. First of all, mix sake, mirin, and soy sauce in your pot.
2. Secondly, heat up to burn off alcohol.
3. Finally, put dashi granules and stir well.
When the dashi granules has precipitated to the bottom over time, stir well and use.
Mentsuyu + Soy sauce
If you don’t have any dashi granules, using mentsuyu is recommended. Mentsuyu contains various types of dashi, sugar, mirin, and sake. Therefore, it gives great umami and koku to the shirodashi substitute.
It depends on the manufacturer, but mentsuyu is sometimes sweeter than real shirodashi. So, you should probably add soy sauce to adjust the taste. I would say mixing those 2 ingredients at a ratio of 1 : 1 is good.
By the way, the color of mentsuyu is dark brown (black), so it’s hard to reproduce the color of real shirodashi with this method.
Water + Soy sauce + Salt
If you can’t get neither dashi granules nor mentsuyu, this is another way to reproduce shirodahi.
Although this is not suitable for the dish that needs dashi as a main ingredient, it will be fine to use this alternative as a secret ingredient. For instance, I recommend to use a little bit of the mixture made from water, soy sauce, and salt when making stir-fried dishes, soup dishes, and so on.
Please mix water and soy sauce at a ratio of 1 : 1. After that, adjust the taste by adding a pinch of salt.
White wine + Soy sauce
White wine is also great ingredient to make shirodashi alternative. This is also very easy to make.
All you need to do is mixing white wine and soy sauce in your pot, and heat up to burn off alcohol.
By combining the richness and flavor of white wine with soy sauce, it becomes the taste like shirodashi.
Sauce for natto
Have you known about the ingredients of the separate packet of natto?
Generally, when you buy the pack of natto at Asian (Japanese) grocery stores, it comes with the sauce that is exclusively for natto.
It’s made from soy sauce, sugar, salt, kombu, bonito, etc. In other words, the ingredients are similar to the one of shirodashi. Therefore, you can use this sauce as a substitute for shirodashi.
If you are thinking “Oh, it’s a hassle to make those (1)-(5).” or “I don’t have any natto sauce.”, here is other ideas for shirodashi alternatives.
Those are substitutes for dashi stock itself. So, you should probably add mirin (sugar), sake, soy sauce, or salt in order to reproduce the taste of shirodashi.
Please check the 10 items in the list too, and adjust the taste as you like!