Shiro Dashi vs Mentsuyu: What is the Difference?
Several days ago, I talked about the difference between the 3 Japanese soup bases, Mentsuyu, Tsuyu, and Dashi. Other than these, actually, there is one more soup broth that has gained popularity in Japan in recent years. That is “Shiro Dashi (白だし)”.
The Difference: Shiro Dashi vs Mentsuyu broth
Like Mentsuyu, Shiro Dashi is a liquid soup base usually sold in a glass bottle and basically used by diluting with water and other seasonings. Then, what is the difference between Mentsuyu and Shiro Dashi? Today, I will explain that.
“Mentsuyu (めんつゆ: literally the broth for noodles)” is the Japanese broth made by combining “Kaeshi (かえし)” and “Dashi (出汁)”. The former, Kaeshi is made by simmering dark soy sauce or Koikuchi Shoyu, sugar, and mirin sweet cooking rice wine, while the latter Dashi is soup stock made typically from kombu seaweed, katsuobushi dried bonito flakes, and shiitake mushrooms.
Since Koikuchi Shoyu is used in Mentsuyu, this Japanese soup base has a dark blackish color, and as its name suggests, Mentsuyu is generally used to make the broth of Japanese noodle soups, such as udon, soba, somen, and hiyamugi. But it is actually a versatile seasoning used in various ways, say, as a dipping sauce for Tempura “Tentsuyu (天つゆ)“, and as a seasoning for Japanese simmered dishes or Nimono.
Shiro Dashi (白だし)
On the other hand, as the word “Shiro (白)” means white in Japanese, Shiro Dashi is lighter in color as compared to Mentsuyu. One of its primary reasons is that “Shiro Shoyu (白醤油)“, or white soy sauce, is the main seasoning used in Shiro Dashi.
Other than Shiro Shoyu, ingredients in Shiro Dashi typically include “Dashi (出汁)” soup stock made from kombu, katsuobushi, and shiitake mushrooms, light-colored soy sauce, mirin, and sun-dried salt.
Shiro Dashi is a multipurpose liquid seasoning with a refined flavor that is favored by professional Japanese chefs and, unlike Mentsuyu, can make the most of the original color of food materials used with it thanks to its light clear color.
Shiro Dashi is not only used as a seasoning in Japanese cuisine, but it can also add umami taste to a wide range of Western and Chinese dishes, such as pasta, fried eggs, stir-fried vegetables, and Chinese fried rice if you just put it instead of soy sauce.
(Reference Pages: Wikipedia めんつゆ, 白だし, Ajitokokoro )