Nothing is worse than biting into a plate of eggs, only to have them taste bland and rubbery. While you could just try to make them better by sprinkling a pinch of salt and pepper, what if there was a way to get a richer and more complex flavor every time you make a scamble? Say hello to hondashi, the ingredient you’re definitely going to start putting in your eggs — and every other savory dish in your diet.
Hondashi — also found in a dry form called dashi powder — is a flavor enhancer made from a rich broth full of steeped kelp and aged tuna. Unlike other broths or sauces, it has a slightly saltier and meatier profile without necessarily tasting ultra-fishy. Plus, depending on any additional ingredients of the brand you get, it can vary in its salt content and tang. Traditionally it’s sprinkled on baked or into soups, stews, and noodle dishes in Japanese cuisine. However, you could easily include it in vegetable sides, dips, and of course, eggs. While it’s available in broth or powder form in many grocery stores nowadays, you can also order it online if it’s not in your area (Buy on Amazon, $5.20).
If you’re looking for an easy way to start incorporating hondashi into your food, I gave this Japanese frittata from chef Jae Lee a try. For his creation, Lee whisks together four large eggs, 1/2 cup of water, 1/4 teaspoon of hondashi, 1/4 teaspoon of salt, 1/2 tablespoon of sugar. He adds 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter to a pan on medium-high heat as well as a handful of spinach. Then, once the spinach has wilted slightly, he adds in the egg mixture, stirring it around until it’s loosely scrambled. Once he sees that the dish is about halfway cooked, he moves the heat down to low and puts a lid over the pan to steam it. The frittata cooks within two to five minutes.
I can confirm that the frittata is light, airy, and ultra-flavorful. The hondashi keeps it from tasting mild and rubbery, instead adding an underlying saltiness that doesn’t overpower the dish. Even if you’re not a frittata fan, this general recipe still works for even a basic plate of scrambled eggs if you want them to be more flavorful than your typical fare. Give it a shot!