Dashi, of course, is a broth made with kombu and bonito flakes. One of the many things I learned by talking with shop owners in Nishiki Market in Osaka is that bonito flakes may be made with the light or dark meat of skipjack tuna and that they can be thickly or thinky shaved.
Thinly-sliced light-colored bonito flakes are best for garnishing dishes like okonomiyaki and takoyaki. Deep pink bonito flakes made with the dark meat of the fish make a stronger broth.
While you can do a short cut by using dashi granules to make Japanese egg drop soup, if you’re in the mood to make your own dashi, know that you can use light-colored bonito flakes for a lighter broth or darker bonito flakes for a more robust flavor.
Mushrooms, seaweed or other vegetables can be added to the basic Japanese egg drop soup. If adding anything that requires rehydration or lengthy cooking, precook it before adding to the dashi. In this recipe, rehydrated slivers black fungus (wood ears) were added to the soup.
As with any egg drop soup, a little cornstarch dispersed in water (some call it “slurry” but I really loathe that term) is stirred into the broth to thicken it a bit. A slightly thickened broth allows the egg clouds to remain suspended near the surface instead of sinking to the bottom.
Once your dashi is ready, season it with a little soy sauce. Bonito flakes are salty so the dashi already has a bit of saltiness to it. So, use soy sauce sparingly. Don’t omit it though as it gives the soup a richer flavor and deeper color. Once the broth has been seasoned, drop in your additional ingredients.
Now, thicken the broth by pouring your starch solution in a thin stream. Stir and cook until the cloudiness has disappeared. To make sure that the starch is fully cooked, simmer thr soup for a few minutes. Taste and see if no powdery sensation remains in your mouth.
Pour in beaten eggs in a circular motion so that the eggs are distributed over the entire surface of the broth. Let the eggs firm up a bit before stirring. Your Japanese egg drop soup is now ready to be garnished and served.
- Pour six cups of water into a pot and add the kombu and bonito flakes.
- Bring to the boil, simmer for five minutes then turn off the heat. Leave to steep for 10 to 15 minutes then strain.
- Pour the strained liquid (that's your dashi) into a clean pot.
- Turn on the stove and pour in the soy sauce. Taste and add as much salt is needed to get a good flavor.
- If you're adding extra ingredients to your egg drop soup (mushrooms, seaweeds or vegetables), add them now.
- Stir in the starch solution. The broth will appear cloudy but, as it heats up, it will turn clear again.
- Simmer the broth for about five minutes then turn off the heat.
- Pour the beaten eggs in a thin stream over the entire surface of the broth.
- Leave to let the eggs cook in the broth before stirring gently.
- Ladle your Japanese egg drop soup into bowls, sprinkle in scallions and serve.