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Dashi is a soup stock used quite often in Japanese cuisines.
Why is it so popular in Japan?
Because most Japanese ate only vegetables for side dishes, aside from those living near the sea and eating fish frequently.
Generally speaking, vegetables have a bland taste for ordinary people.
Although animal proteins and fats can taste good only by cooking with salt, it was forbidden to eat meat by buddhism.
To make vegetable dishes tasty, Dashi was developed widely all over Japan.