It hasn’t been long since I started making dashi on Sundays. I don’t think about it or look forward to it mid-week, but every Sunday I perform the necessary tasks involved in making excellent dashi. Aside from occasional metallic noise from the thermometer, the work is done in silence. The kombu steeps for forty minutes in four cups of water at 140˚. I make sure the kitchen is clean. I make sure I have privacy. I sit on a wooden chair with a thermometer and a book.
There is no need to do any of these things to make the clear kelp broth. The temperature is easy to maintain and kombu does not need stirring. The silence and the wooden chair do not usually belong in the kitchen. In fact, you could make dashi by stirring in some instant-dashi powder in a pot of boiling water. But this is the way I make it; it is the method and procedure I impose on myself.
To make a ritual of it makes the task more than what it is. Do it a few times, it is no more about making the broth than it is about sitting on a wooden chair for forty minutes. In time, the person sitting on the chair with a book and a thermometer comes to acquire a purpose outside of their immediate selves.
Although, over time, it has become routine, the experience remains disconnected from my experience of daily life. There is pleasure and comfort in it. I am beginning to find the yellow surface light of my stove calming.
The Anabanana Team.