I first heard about Dashi, or sea stock, when I was still in high school. I remember being sort of puzzled that anyone would use a soup stock consisting solely of seaweed and dried fish and put the concept out of my mind until about 2 years ago.
What started as a simple desire to make some decent miso soup ended up making a serious change in how I cook and eat. As it turns out, dashi is one of the most versatile stocks I have run into and it is safe to say that we it use more than any other. It is quick and easy to prepare and has a really subtle, rich flavor that is a bit hard to pin down; it is not really fishy, not really salty, not really kelpy (if that is a word). It is packed with excellent flavor and enhances just about anything that you cook in it. I think of it less like a soup stock and more like a cooking fluid; used to get at flavor combinations that would otherwise be unavailable. I regret my long period of ignorance and really wish that I had gotten around to preparing this stock sooner in my life….