What is Dashi? Different from Dashi Powder or Ajinomoto?

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Even though Japanese dashi can be made in a short time, making dashi soup every day is a painstaking process. And if you live abroad, the cost is immeasurable.

It would be easier if you didn’t have to make dashi. So, I compared the differences between dashi soup, dashi powder, and ajinomoto.

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Dashi vs Dashi Powder vs Ajinomoto

I prepared 100 mL each of dashi, dashi powder water solution, and ajinomoto water solution.

Differences in Color, Smell, and Taste

Here is a comparison of the differences in color, smell, and taste.

Dashi SoupDashi PowderAjinomoto
Colorclear golden transparentslightly brownish transparentcolorless transparent
Smellstrongest2nd strongertnon smell
Tastethe best

Actually, at this point, the best tasting product was the dashi powder solution. The reason for this lies in the ingredients.

Dashi powder contains salt and sugar, and when dissolved in hot water, it becomes a flavored dashi soup. In other words, it already has a finished taste. Conversely, when you use dashi stock in cooking, salt and sugar are also added together.
What Is Dashi Powder? How to Use? Not Ajinomoto?
Is dashi powder same as ajinomoto? NO! Dashi powder is an instant soup stock, while ajinomoto is a type of salt or sugar. What does that mean?

What Happens if I Add Miso?

And here’s where I threw in the miso. I followed the general recipe and added it one tablespoon at a time.

Once the miso is added, it’s almost impossible to distinguish between dashi broth, dashi powder, and ajinomoto just by looking at it. As time went by and the miso settled, the color became darker in the dashi broth, but the appearance of the dashi powder and ajinomoto was at a level that could be called exactly the same.

Now for the actual taste. The judges were myself and Juhani. I didn’t tell Juhani the ingredients, but asked him what she thought of each one.

First, the Ajinomoto miso soup. It has a nice aroma of miso. I think it tastes more like a raw miso type instant miso soup, but it’s tasty enough. According to Juhani, the taste is a little bland.

Next was the miso soup with dashi powder. It has a nice aroma of miso and a faint scent of bonito flakes. It’s tastier than Ajinomoto’s miso soup. According to Juhani, it is the best.

Lastly, miso soup with dashi soup. The aroma of miso combined with the scent of bonito flakes, this is the miso soup I’m used to! This is what I’m used to! The taste of the bonito is strong. Juhani said that it was delicious, but smelled strongly of fish.

What Happens if I Add Wakame?

At this point, I was in favor of dashi powder. However, it is unlikely that you can just dissolve miso in dashi soup and call it miso soup. I added 500mg of dried wakame to each of them and tried them.

Once the taste of wakame is introduced, it becomes quite difficult to distinguish between miso soup made with ajinomoto and dashi powder. I think the saltiness of the Ajinomoto is sharper. That’s about it.

When I asked Juhani to taste the miso soup, he said that the miso soup with dashi soup tasted really good, while the other two tasted almost the same.

What if I add tofu to this? What if you add carrots and green onion which have a strong flavor? When miso soup is served on the table, can we judge, “You used ajinomoto instead of dashi powder today, didn’t you? I wonder if we can judge that.

Different Uses

Here’s a summary of what we learned from the experiment about the difference between dashi soup, dashi powder, and ajinomoto.

Strong Dashi Flavor = Dashi Soup

Dashi soup is necessary for dishes where you mainly enjoy the aroma of dashi, such as osuimono, sumashi jiru soup, dashi-rolled egg, chawanmushi, etc. And for dishes with very little seasoning other than dashi also. Of course, you can use dashi powder as a substitute, but the aroma will be much weaker and you will most likely feel that it is not enough.

Weak Dashi Flavor = dashi Soup and dashi powder

For example, oyakodon, nikujaga, and other dishes that have a strong aroma of soy sauce but also have the aroma of dashi. In this case, you can use either dashi soup or dashi powder.

Add Only Umami = Ajinomoto

Ajinomoto is useful for dishes such as pickles, fried rice, etc. where you don’t need the aroma of dashi but want to add umami. Since ajinomoto is a seasoning that only adds umami, it is better to think of it as another seasoning rather than a substitute for dashi or dashi powder. Ajinomoto is perfect for asazuke, for example.
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Use it Wisely

Kombu and bonito flakes are quite expensive when you are overseas. I don’t have enough money to make dashi for every meal, so I use them in different ways as described above.

By the way, there is no such thing as saying that dashi you make yourself is good for you because it is natural, or that dashi-no-soup or ajinomoto are not good for you because they are chemical seasonings. Are they chemical seasonings? You can read more about how the name “chemical seasoning” came to be used on Ajinomoto’s website.
「味の素®」は何故、むかし化学調味料と呼ばれたの? | ストーリー | 味の素グループ
食のプロフェッショナルがみなさんの疑問に答えます

Ajinomoto is made by fermenting and refining the juice of sugar cane. So, if this process is bad for you because it is chemical, then soy sauce, miso, sugar, anything can be bad for you.

I understand that you are not good at the words “chemistry” and “science.” I also get a brain cramp when people use words like “language,” “religion,” or “ideology. But that’s not a reason to deny someone. I think it’s important to accept what you don’t understand.

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