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.)
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.
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.
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.