Kakejiru is most widely known and used as a Japanese Noodle Broth. Indeed, the famous ‘Kake-Udon’, is simply thick Udon noodles along with other toppings, served with Kakejiru poured over everything as a rich ‘soup’.
Similar ‘soup-noodle’ dishes are also made with many other sorts of noodle (including Soba, Somen, and the ever-popular Ramen), but the name ‘Kakejiru’ simply means ‘dressing’ or ‘gravy’, and it has other uses as well. It is extremely versatile, and often forms the base for more complex broths and sauces, as well as being frequently used to braise Tofu and other ingredients.
Making Kakjiru at Home
Kakejiru is essentially a Dashi-based broth (commercially prepared Dashi, or else home-made), but the richness of this base is extended by adding Soy Sauce and Mirin. Sake is sometimes added in addition to, or in place of Mirin, and generally a little sugar is used to round out the sweetness. Aside from a little salt to taste, that is about it… Thus, a very simple basic recipe would be as follows:
- 1 cup Dashi;
- 1/2 – 1 tbsp. Soy Sauce;
- 1 tbsp. Mirin (or Sake);
- 1 pinch Sugar (optional);
- Salt to taste.
The amounts and proportions of each ingredient are not carved in stone, of course, and you can vary them to suit your own personal taste, or to better complement the type of dish you are making.
Prepare your dashi, and, when it is at a gentle simmer, add the rest of the ingredients. Let the broth simmer for a further 5 or 10 minutes. At this point, you can use it immediately or cool it down and refrigerate for later use.
This recipe will make about a cup of Kakejiru. For use as a Japanese noodle broth, you will almost certainly need more than one cup (unless making a snack for yourself), but it is easy to multiply the basic ingredients given above for a greater number of servings.
Dipping Sauce – In addition to being common;y used as a Japanese Noodle Broth, Kakejiru makes a great sauce for many things, and is often adapted to be used as a dipping sauce for Tempura. For this sort of use, however, you generally will want to increase the soy, mirin and sugar by up to four times the basic amount.
Agedashi Tofu– This is a classic dish in which deep-fried cubes of tofu are braised in a dashi-based medium that is more often than not a basic Kakejiru.
Tako Karaage– ‘Tako Karaage’ simply means ‘Deep-fried Octopus’. The Octopus in the dish pictured above was first lightly battered and deep-fried, then served in a light kakejiru.