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Shirodashi is one of the Japanese seasonings that is made from light-colored soy sauce, dashi of bonito and kombu (kelp), mirin, salt, etc. It adds salty taste and umami (delicious taste) of dashi stock to dishes.
Because it uses light-colored soy sauce instead of the normal black color soy sauce, the color of shirodashi is light golden, and this is the origin of the name, actually. “Shiro” is Japanese term for “white”.
As with concentrated mentsuyu, it should be dilute appropriately according to the dish.
Japanese people often use shirodashi when making Japanese-style simmered foods and soups. But it can be widely used for other dishes such as Chinese food.
It is useful for professional chefs, including high-end restaurants. Since shirodashi bottles are easily available at grocery stores in recent years, it is also used in ordinary households.
What are the ingredients of shirodashi?
To make it clear, I will write out the list of ingredients of shirodashi I usually use.
Although there are some differences in ingredients depending on the region and manufacturer, basically it looks like the followings.
Ingredients of Shirodashi
・Concentrated chicken stock
・Concentrated kombu and bonito stock
・Coarse bonito flakes
Shirodashi can be used for any type of dishes. The followings are dishes using shirodashi that Japanese people often make.
1. Dashimaki Tamago (Japanese Omelette)
This is traditional Japanese-style omelette made with dashi. Because of the dashi, you can taste juicy, fluffy, and super delicious egg.
To make it with shirodashi, you need to mix 3 eggs with 2 tsp of shirodashi and 2 tbsp of water. Then, make rolled egg with a frying pan. Add a little sugar if you like sweet taste.
2. Udon Noodles with Shirodashi Soup
Although mentsuyu is very common seasoning that Japanese use for eating noodles such as udon and soba, shirodashi is another great choice when eating noodles.
To make udon soup, dilute shirodashi with hot or cold water at the ratio indicated on the package and add the boiled noodles to eat.
3. Oden (Simmered Dishes)
Shirodashi is perfect seasoning for making simmered dishes. Ingredients in the simmered dish can be anything; shirodashi makes all kinds of foods even more delicious including meat, fish, mushrooms, and vegetables.
Oden is one of the most popular simmered dish in Japan, and all you need to do to make it is putting shirodashi, your favorite fish cakes, and vegetables in the big pot. Add a little mirin or sugar to your liking.
Shabu-shabu is Japanese hot pot dish; you will put a thin slice of meat into a hot pot, swish it back and force several times until the meat turns pink, then dip it in sauce and eat it.
Usually people make the soup for this hot pot by using kombu (kelp), salt, sake, etc. But the easiest way is jut putting shirodashi, that’s it!
Mix 1.7 cups (400ml) of water with 0.2 cup (50ml) of shirodashi.
Actually the soup made with shirodashi already has delicious taste only by itself, so you can probably enjoy the ingredients without the dipping sauce.
Besides those 4 dishes, you can use shirodashi for making pasta sauce, soup, marinate sauce for fried chicken (karaage), Japanese-style mixed rice (takikomi-gohan), etc.
This is exactly an all-purpose seasoning, isn’t it!
I want to share the 3 reasons why you should use shirodashi for cooking.
Reason 1. You can quickly make dishes with a strong dashi flavor.
You may need an expensive dried kombu (kelp) and a large amount of dried bonito if you make real dashi from scratch by yourself. You also have to spend a long time to make it, and it must be very tough.
One bottle of shirodashi help you a lot, seriously. Shirodashi never let you spend a long time at kitchen to make homemade dashi. It already contains several kinds of dashi (kombu, bonito, shiitake-mushrooms, etc), and it can adds complex deliciousness to dishes.
Reason 2. You don’t need other seasonings.
Some of you might think that why not using dashi (stock) granules instead. You can use it to get dashi flavor, but dashi granules generally doesn’t contain other seasonings.
While, shirodashi contains a lot of seasonings such as soy sauce, salt, sugar, alcohol, etc. It depends on the dishes you make, but you can actually complete the seasoning in the cooking without putting additional seasonings.
Reason 3. It doesn’t ruin the original color of ingredients.
Soy sauce contained in shirodashi is light-colored soy sauce unlike the regular black soy sauce which is the main ingredient of mentsuyu.
So, it won’t ruin the beautiful color of ingredients and soup in dishes. For example, if you put mentsuyu to Japanese omelette (dashimaki tamago) instead of shirodashi, the color of omelette will be dark and not look good.
By the way, the reason why it’s not dark color is that light-colored soy sauce is made from very high proportion of wheat compared to soybeans.