Bacon Dashi

noodles in bacon dashi topped with sliced shiitakes

Sweet and smoky with a hint of the ocean, bacon dashi is something you can drink straight up, out of a mug on a rainy day, but that’s probably because I love bacon.

Let me repeat myself: I love bacon. I love the saltiness, smokiness, and crunch. If it wasn’t so bad for me I think I’d eat it everyday. When I was a little girl my mom would stop me after two slices but I’d always sneak more when she wasn’t looking. I grew up coveting those crispy strips of smoky meat.

I used to devour bacon flavoured chips, crackers and even those dried salty crunchy things they call bacon bits. I don’t eat those things anymore though. Now I just go for the good stuff, real bacon. (I don’t mean those bacon bits called “Real Bacon,” I mean bacon, the real stuff.)

konbu and bacon

There isn’t anything bacon doesn’t make better: fried rice, eggs, potatoes, and yes, dashi. Dashi is one of the cornerstones of Japanese cooking, used as the base of soup stocks and a bunch of other dishes. Traditionally made from seaweed and dried fish, Chang gives dashi a Momofukuian twist with bacon.

using up leftover bacon

Making bacon dashi is simple: 2 pieces of konbu are rinsed under running water and put in a pot to boil. Once at a boil, the konbu is steeped for ten minutes like a sea-salty tea. The konbu is removed and bacon is added, the broth simmering for half an hour. When finished, the dashi is cooled until the fat separates out and is easily skimmed off.

bacon bowl

Chang doesn’t tell you what to do with the bacon after straining it out, but it seems such a waste to not eat it, so inspired by eatnlisten.com (Update: I saw the bacon bowl at eatnlisten, but the lovely and gorgeous Jo at My Last Bite tells me she and Not Martha made them as well! And they’re super cute! Check out Not Martha’s Bacon Cups and My Last Bite’s Bacon Cups) , I decided to make a bacon bowl. The bowl came out a little wonky, maybe because the bacon was boiled, but it was crisp and rather delicious even if it was a little lacking in the bacon flavour which was now in the bacon dashi.

The result: a very  slightly milky coloured broth with the subtle flavours of the sea, smoke and pork. I poured some over a tangle of ramen noodles topped with sliced shiitake mushrooms and green onions. Bacon dashi is a keeper: simple, savoury, slurp-worthy soup.

noodles in smokey, sweet bacon dashi

bacon dashi

30 Comments add yours

  1. Gorgeous photos! I love that you make bacon bowls too! http://mylastbite.wordpress.com/2008/06/24/baconbowl/

    Jo,
    Your bacon bowls look baconlicious! I’m really going to have to try with non-boiled bacon!

    steph on February 10th, 2010 at 1:01 pm
  2. The soup looks sooo tasty. My husband also has the bacon obsession. When we were dating I called him once and asked him what he’d had for dinner. “Bacon” he replied. I was confused. A BLT? Breakfast for dinner? It turned out he had just cooked an entire package of bacon and eaten it. Now that we’re married I handle the cooking, he sticks to the cocktail making. Though I hear their now putting bacon in vodka…

    Epicurette,
    Your husband sounds like a smart man! I still haven’t eaten a whole package of bacon in one sitting, so I bow down to his bacon prowess. Funny thing, I was searching online for Momofuku cookies and I was on your site the other day reading about your compost cookies! Small world!

    steph on February 10th, 2010 at 1:05 pm
  3. Bacon dashi is friggin BRILLIANT. And it’s surprisingly EASY to make. And tasty too! Once you’ve had this, I’m not sure you’ll want to have regular dashi.

    Caleb,
    Yeah, bacon dashi seriously rocks and it is easy to make! Now I wonder why people buy instant dashi.

    As easy as dashi is to make, instant dashi is still faster and easier. And if you ask me (and my Japanese chef instructor) there’s no real perceptible difference. Aside from a lack of bacon of course.

    Dan on August 8th, 2013 at 8:20 pm
    steph on February 10th, 2010 at 3:17 pm
  4. Wow I’m so honored that you creatied a bacon bowl! I definately share your love of bacon (and probably eat it much more than I should). Lately I’ve been into Pancetta too, it makes a great porky crouton for soups.

    Thank you for linking to my blog and recipe, your so kind. I find your blog fascinating and I am amazed at the recipes you are recreating.

    Brad,
    No problem, thanks for sharing your bacon bowl! Mmm…porky croutons sound good.

    steph on February 10th, 2010 at 3:22 pm
  5. What a cool idea! I think the bacon bowls didn’t make it into German foodblogs. Perhaps it’s time to change this ;-)

    Petra,
    A German bacon bowl would be awesome!

    steph on February 11th, 2010 at 12:57 pm
  6. Maybe a bacon bowl filled with red cabbage kraut? That sounds good to me.

    Brad,
    Bacon bowls make everything better!

    steph on February 12th, 2010 at 12:35 am
  7. Wow, that looks really cool and delicious.

    Sean,
    Thanks! If you like bacon, you’ll love bacon dashi!

    steph on February 13th, 2010 at 9:20 pm
  8. This is a really cool site! Great pics.
    One question — you say, “2 pieces of konbu are rinsed under running water”. Why is that? I do not mean to challenge you; just being curious. In Japan, I learned not to rinse konbu, as all the goodies (mainly, umami) will be gone. Instead, just gently wipe konbu with cloth.

    Yukari,
    I rinsed the konbu just because the Momofuku cookbook told me to, but I did a quick search on google and it looks like you’re never supposed to rinse the konbu! I think you’re right! Next time I will gently wipe with a cloth. Thanks!

    steph on February 15th, 2010 at 12:50 pm
  9. Wonderful web site! I’ve been wanting to read the book but haven’t gotten it yet. This was the first post I clicked on because I also love bacon!

    Thanks! The book is great, hope you get to it soon.

    steph on March 16th, 2010 at 11:59 am
  10. This stuff is positively delicious, I splurged and ordered some ham & bacon from Bentons that he talks about in the book. Wow is the stuff smoky, almost too much, but in certain preparations(like this one) it really shines. I also used it to make french onion soup (from Les Halles cookbook) and the results were mind blowingly good, I’d recommend Bentons to anyone for sure.

    I really want to get my hands on some Benton’s bacon. It’s too bad they don’t ship to Canada.

    steph on March 27th, 2010 at 11:59 am
  11. since you like bacon so much, have you tried signing up for bacon of the month club?

    http://www.gratefulpalate.com/?p=Category_11

    I would totally sign up, but it’s US only!

    steph on April 27th, 2010 at 12:32 pm
  12. Love the bacon cup. Ever since I tried bacon that is wood smoked and has no notrates- I have been completely sold. I like it so much better.

    I really need to find me a store that sells bacon and only bacon. Can you imagine the selection!??!

    steph on May 3rd, 2010 at 11:35 am
  13. PLEEEAASE HEELLLPPP!!!! Where can a simple southern boy buy high quality fresh ramen? I’m not interested in Murachan or Nissan. I am ready and willing to pay a premium for the goods. My saute guy is studying to make ramen but he won’t make it for my restaurant. We are a small independent restaurant in NC looking to make a nice dashi dish. But i refuse to use sub-par ingredients. If you have any leads, your input would earn you excellent karma, I’m sure. Thanks. b.

  14. How many slices of bacon do you use? And skip the fish flakes then?

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