Yamagata’s Dashi

If you know some about Japanese food culture, you may know what “dashi” is, and also how important it is. Dashi is a Japanese soup stock made from dried foodstuff such as bonito, a type of seaweed, shiitake mushrooms, and so on. (If you are interested in even more dashi, then please do take a look at below articles for more information.)

Generally speaking, that is what “dashi” is, but that is one thing, and is actually quite different from the one that you can learn in this article.

The other dashi that this article will give you information about is a traditional cuisine in Yamagata Prefecture that is located in the northern part of Japan. It is neither soup stock or in liquid shape.

Yamagata’s dashi is seasoned chopped vegetables, and people eat generally with rice. It is mixed with a variety of vegetables such as cucumber, eggplant, perilla leaves, Japanese ginger, or anything you like.

Here is the basic recipe for dashi. It is so simple but tasty.

1. Chop vegetables into fine pieces.
2. Mix them all.
3. Put some soy sauce.
4. Done.

The recipe above is the simplest way, and you can still arrange it as you like. Some families add some soup stock (dashi, the other and common one), sugar or sake so that it can taste deeper. Actually, there is no certain recipe for dashi, which means if there are 100 families, there can be 100 recipes of dashi.

Dashi is usually served in one big bowl on the table and then family members scoop it as they like. Although the most popular way to eat dashi is to put it on top of rice, locals enjoy dashi in various ways. Eating with tofu or cold noodles are other popular ways. Also, it is something good to eat while you are drinking.

Originally, dashi was born from old-time farmers’ life. The farmers worked hard in the morning and cooked dashi with the fresh vegetables that they harvested on the day for their family lunch. They could cook dashi very fast after such hard work, and also it helped them to supply rich nutrition, which is derived from the vegetables like vitamins and minerals. You may be surprised, but summer in Yamagata is actually very hot and humid. Humidity and heat often take peoples’ energy and then you may lose an appetite. Dashi is really light and healthy, and is a very ideal food for that kind of condition.

Dashi is now well enough known to many people all over Japan as a local cuisine of Yamagata, so it can probably be found in a restaurant even outside the area. However, you may want to know its authentic taste and where it was born. You should then visit Yamagata in the summer season and feel how the farmers felt in the old days. It will probably help you to enjoy more taste of dashi.

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