10 Must Try Bonito Flakes Substitutes (2022)

10 Bonito Flakes Substitutes to Try Today

What is Asian cuisine if it lacks umami flavor? Bonito flakes contribute significantly to the savory flavor of many Asian dishes. If you intend to substitute bonito flakes but are doubting if it will be a risky choice, this article has provided a list of perfect alternatives to bonito flakes in your recipes. 

Iriko, dried shiitake mushrooms, dulse, kombu, mackerel powder, shellfish stock or powder, nori, white fish, fish sauce, and roasted soybeans are all good substitutes for bonito flakes.

Keep reading to discover how to use these simple bonito flakes substitutes in your recipes.

Bonito Flakes Nutrition

These are the nutritional elements contained in a serving size of 10.6 grams. Per serving, Bonito flakes contain 30.3 calories.

Nutritional ElementsGramsDaily Value
Total fat0.2 g0%
Saturated fat0.1 g0%
Polyunsaturated fat0.1 g –
Monounsaturated fat0 g –
Cholesterol16.1 mg5%
Sodium745.5 mg31%
Potassium154.5 mg4%
Total carbohydrate0 g9%
Protein6.7 g –
Vitamin C0.6 %
Vitamin A0.3 %
Vitamin  B60%
Iron1.5 %
Source: Nutritionix

10 Bonito Flakes Substitutes

Here are some great alternatives to Bonito flakes to substitute for in your kitchen.

1. Whitefish

Bonito is a kind of white fish, so any other variety will be a perfect substitute for your recipe. White fishes are low in cholesterol and will provide a good amount of protein in your dish. Apart from bonito, other whitefish species include tilapia, cod, bass, grouper, haddock, catfish, and snapper.

They will impart the fish flavor your recipe requires if used adequately. In your dish, you can use their dried flakes or powder. Replace 1 gram of bonito flakes with 1 gram of white fish substitute.

2. Iriko

Iriko is a perfect substitute for bonito flakes in any soup, sauce, dashi, or miso recipe. Iriko will produce a savory taste and aroma similar to Iriko, sometimes even more than bonito flakes. It is used as a substitute in recipes that call for a strong “sea aroma.” Iriko, like bonito flakes, can be eaten on its own or as an ingredient, add-on, or topping.

Avoid buying irikos with a ripped belly or oxidized oil stains; they should be completely dried. If you need to prepare dashi (stock) with Iriko, roast them in a pan without oil before transferring them to a container with cold water. Allow it to sit overnight so the flavor will sip out.

3. Dried shiitake mushrooms

Dried shiitake mushrooms are a vegan substitute for bonito flakes in soups, sauces, and noodle dishes. It is a healthier alternative to bonito flakes since it has low cholesterol, lowers blood pressure, and improves the immune system.

To obtain the umami flavor your dish needs, boil dried shiitake mushrooms in hot water and remove their thick stems. Use the liquid after straining it in your recipes. You can slice or chop the dried mushrooms and use them as meat or fish substitutes in your dishes.

4. Dulse

Dulse is another vegan option that can be used in place of bonito flakes in recipes. Dulse is a type of seaweed with a texture and umami flavor comparable to bonito flakes. It has a high nutritional value because it is high in iodine and potassium. Dulse is also useful for decreasing cholesterol.

When substituting dulse for bonito flakes, use twice as much dulse. Dulse, like bonito flakes, can be utilized in a variety of ways. To prepare stock with dulse, soak it in a bowl of water for a few minutes. Place it in a pot and bring it to a boil.

5. Shellfish stock or powder

Any shellfish will produce an umami flavor required for a savory dish. Shrimp or prawn stock is often used because they are less expensive than other shellfish. Shellfish broth can be used in soups, stews, and sauces. Using shellfish stock or powder will add a rich flavor to your recipe.

You can opt for shellfish powder if you need an instant recipe, but ensure it is added in an adequate measure so it does not overpower the flavor of your recipe. Here’s how to make shellfish stock from scratch.

6. Kombu

Kombu is commonly used as a vegan substitute for bonito flakes. It is another type of edible seaweed that is utilized in Asian cooking. Kombu is a good source of iodine and fiber. Kombu is frequently used in dashi recipes. You can substitute kombu seaweed or buy kombu stock at grocery stores to get the savory flavor and taste your recipe requires.

Kombu dashi can be prepared in two ways: hot brew (simmer the plant in water until it reaches a boiling point) and cold brew (leave the plant in cold water for about 2 to 3 hours to bring out the flavor). Kombu can also be added to salads by cutting them into thin slices, or it can be eaten as a snack by pricking it with soy sauce.

7. Mackerel powder

Mackerel powder is a simple seasoning that can be used in place of bonito flakes. It does not necessitate any preparation before usage.

You simply need an adequate amount of the powder to achieve the required savory flavor. Mackerel powder can be used to make dashi as well as in soups, sauces, and ramen recipes. If not used adequately, mackerel powder can alter and mask the flavor and aroma of your dish.

8. Nori

Although nori is traditionally used for sushi, it can also be used as a substitute for bonito flakes. Nori can be used as a garnish and flavor enhancer in soups, sauces, and noodle meals.

Nori has a salty and fishy flavor that generates the umami flavor required by Asian dishes. When substituting nori for bonito flakes, shred the nori into tiny pieces. If Nori is needed to create dashi, place it in a bowl and turn off the heat as it starts boiling. Keep Nori in a moisture-free container to keep it fresh.

Fish sauce as bonito flakes substitutes
Image: @AleksandrGuskov via Twenty20

9. Fish sauce

Fish sauce is often the last resort when you have run out of options but desperately need fish flavor and aroma in your dish. Fish sauce is readily available in stores and can be easily made for your recipe.

Because it is a pure sauce, it has limited use, as opposed to bonito flakes, which have several applications. It’s a simple ingredient that will instantly give fish flavor and aroma to your cuisine without the need for roasting or boiling to achieve umami flavor.

10. Roasted soybeans

Although roasted soybeans may not have the same strong savory flavor as bonito flakes, they can be used as a substitute if you are out of options. Roasted soybeans, instead of producing a fish flavor, will provide a soybean flavor for your recipe.

It can be used as a substitute for bonito flakes for people who are allergic to fish or vegans. Dry soybeans must be roasted in a pan to be used as a replacement. Place them in a dish of hot water for about 10 hours before using them in your recipe.

Final Note

The options listed above are good substitutes for bonito flakes in your cooking, but some are preferable to others.

You’ll be able to make a savory dish without your bonito flakes once you know how much the substitute should be used in your dish.

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