Tonkotsu Ramen Recipe
An ode to Ramen
I love Ramen. Especially Tonkotsu Ramen. It is one of my ultimate comfort foods. The milky, savory broth. The slurpy noodles. The yolky egg and the crispy cha sui. All this is just the foundation for your toppings of choice. From spicy chili oil to roasted corn, green scallions and the white and pink swirled fish cake, you can make each bowl of Tonkotsu Ramen different and your own. It’s like a taco in a bowl. Experiment. Try something new each time. Perfect your bowl of Ramen so it is as unique to you as your signature. How perfect is that?
But how do you make Tonkotsu Ramen?
If you’ve ever seen The Ramen Girl (and if you haven’t, you should!), you know that making Ramen broth is an art. It is more than just a recipe. There are Ramen shops in Japan that have used the same base broth for generations. Does my Tonkotsu Ramen come anywhere close to that? Did I make the same broth day in day out for months to practice? No, certainly not. And I am not trying to pretend. Ramen is too holy for that.
But I also love cooking. And I love a challenge. So I knew I had to make Tonkotsu Ramen at home and give it my best shot. I also made a huge pot, because it takes over 36 hours to finish and I wasn’t going to do that every other week. So now I have enough Tonkotsu Broth for about 30 huge servings. At least. That should last me about 2 months, I think 😉 Let me take you to Japan and show you how to make the ultimate Tonkotsu Ramen broth.
- 10 lbs pork feet, knuckles, shanks (the bonier and the more cartilage, the better)
- 1 2x1 inch piece of Ginger, sliced
- 1/2 bulb of garlic, peeled
- 1 bunch of green onion, chopped roughly
- 1 large onion, peeled and sliced into thick slices
- 1 tbsp oil
- 2 tbsp Soy Sauce OR
- 2 tsp Miso paste OR
- a mix of the above
- 1 tbsp green onion, sliced
- 1 soft boiled egg
- 1 slice of cha sui (bbq'ed pork belly)
- 2 tbsp shredded pork
- 1/2 cup mushrooms, sliced and sauteed
- 1/4 sheet of Nori sea weed
- 1/4 cup roasted corn
- 1 tbsp chili oil
- 1-2 slices of fish cake
- 1/4 cup bamboo shoots
- 1 pack of Ramen noodles (Try to get the frozen ones. If you put that much work into the broth, don't ruin it with yucky instant noodles!)
- To get the beautiful milky color of Tonkotsu Broth, you need to blanche and wash your bones. The best way to do it is to add your bones to the pot, cover with water and bring to a boil. After letting it boil for a few minutes, drain the bones, discard the water and wash your pork knuckles and bones under running water, removing as much of the grey foam, blood and even bone marrow as possible. The thorougher you are, the lighter your broth will be.
- Add the cleaned bones back in the pot and cover with water, add the lit and bring to a boil.
- In the meantime, heat up a pan with oil to high heat, add the onion, garlic and ginger slices and let them cook until thoroughly caramelized and the edges are burnt. It will give a nice sweet and smokey flavor to your broth. When you are done, add it to the pot.
- Now, you got to wait for about 36 hours. I left the pot on a high rolling boil when I was around, and turned it to a light simmer when we went to bed. I left the pot covered for the first few hours and during the night, and uncovered the rest of the time. I added water occasionally, but let it reduce to about 1/2 volume by the time the broth was finished.
- After the boil, pass your broth through a strainer and discard all the bones and vegetables.
- Bring a pot of water to a boil and cook your Ramen noodles according to package instructions. When done, drain well and add to bowl.
- Ladle hot broth into bowl and season with miso paste or Soy Sauce.
- Add other toppings as you like, mix, slurp and enjoy.
When you are done with your first bowl of homemade Tonkotsu Ramen, let the rest of the broth cool down in the fridge and freeze in portions. It will have the consistency of jello or, if you want to see the glibbery goodness I made, here is a video of the jiggely jello Tonkotsu broth I made, after it cooled down.
Yes, making Tonkotsu Ramen at home from scratch takes a long time. But it is also not very involved, once it is cooking and you can do whatever you want while the broth is blubbering along on the stove. So next time you are planning 2 day Netflix marathon, get yourself some pork knuckles and reward your lazyiness with a big bowl of goodness afterwards. And the best part: Next time you are craving a bowl of slurpy goodness, just defrost, boil some noodles and throw on some toppings. Easy peasy work night dinner in 15 minutes or less.
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