Despite its location to the north, summertime in YAMAGATA Prefecture sees plenty of hot, humid days. That is when DASHI, a salad-topping-and-condiment rolled into one comes to the rescue. There are many versions (it seems every household has its own), but pictured above are ingredients in the most basic version.

Clockwise from the top: cucumbers, myōga (a ginger-like rhizome; fresh young ginger can be substituted), shiso (an herbaceous leaf, vaguely related to mint and tasting like a cross between mint and basil), and eggplant. Many people like to add something "sticky" or "slippery" that helps bind the chopped bits and pieces together as a mass. Okra, yamaimo (a slippery tuber), and nattō kombu (slippery kelp) are favorites.

Try your hand at making Yamagata DASHI. Download a recipe here.

No matter where in the world you may be, you can support economic recovery of the region by making a contribution to Sponsor Fellows for Tohoku and Japan’s Recovery. This project, launched and managed by Entrepreneurial Training for Innovative Communities (ETIC) has a dual goal: creating jobs in the area devastated by the disaster and developing a new generation of business leaders in Japan. To learn more about the Fellows Project, click here.
Welcome to

A Taste of the Tohoku

where you can expand your repertoire of regional dishes. Each post to this page will feature a Tohoku specialty.

This issue features YAMAGATA Prefecture's condiment-topping-and-salad rolled into one:
 

DASHI

山形だし
Nattō kombu (above) is a kind of KELP (sea vegetable) though its name comes from its resemblance (in texture and mouth-feel) to the fermented, sticky soy beans called natt The kelp is sold dried as thin threads. Soaking it briefly in water releases a viscous jell like substance.

Learning the Local Lingo

The word dashi may sound familiar: in standard Japanese it refers to a classic sea stock made from kelp and fish flakes. But Yamagata natives have assigned the word dashi a special meaning: it refers to their ubiquitous chopped veggie-and-herb mixture. No one is quite sure why, or when, this special meaning evolved but it has become part of the local dialect.

So what, then, do the locals call their stock?

Dashi-jiru: literally “liquid extract.”


Yamagata DASHI is served
as a salad(above)

or as a topping for rice (above)
as a topping for noodles (above)
or as a topping for tōfu (above)