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Dashi is a soup stock used quite often in Japanese cuisines.
It is rich in Umami.
Why is dashi so popular in Japan?
Because it was forbidden to eat meat by buddhism.
Animal proteins and fats can taste good only by cooking with salt.
Whereas, vegetables have bland taste for ordinary people.
Aside from those living near the sea, most Japanese ate only vegetables for side dishes.
To make vegetable dishes tasty, Dashi was developed widely all over Japan.
Here you can find the articles including the topics of Dashi.