Let’s Talk Food: Time is key to making tonkotsu ramen


Tonkotsu ramen, a specialty of Kyushu, Japan, is a rich and creamy broth with Chinese-style wheat noodles, or what we know as ramen. There are many restaurants in the Hakata area that specialize in this dish, which takes a day to make perfect broth. This dish should not be confused with tonkatsu, which is breaded pork cutlet.

Pork bones are cooked for 15 hours until the collagen is extracted from the bones. Not many of us have the time to boil bones for that length of time, let alone get the pork leg bones. That is essential to pull out all the good stuff in the bone marrow. Because of the length of time to make the essential broth, many do not bother making it at home but instead go out to a restaurant to enjoy this ramen. But if you feel ambitious, have fun with this pork broth!

Tonkotsu Stock:

Bring 3 1/2 gallons water to a boil in a large stock pot.

When the water boils, add:

5 pounds pork leg bones, preferably to the hoofs

Turn off heat, allow to cool for 40 minutes. This will remove all the blood and blood vessels from the bones.

Drain the water off into a strainer. Check bones to make sure all blood vessels are removed from bones.

Clean the pot. Break the bones in half with a hammer. Fill the pot again with water, bring to boil. After the water is at a rolling boil, add cracked bones into pot. Continue boiling on high for about 20 minutes. Remove any scum that floats to the top. After all the scum has come to the top, cover with a lid and lower heat to simmer for 10 to 12 hours. After that time, with lid still on, raise heat to high. Your broth should be white colored. Filter stock of all bones, discard bones. You should have about 3 quarts of broth.

Now you are ready to make tonkotsu ramen!

Tonkotsu Ramen

3 quarts tonkotsu stock

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 large onion, skin on, roughly chopped

12 garlic cloves

One 3-inch knob ginger, roughly chopped

2 whole leeks, washed and roughly chopped

One bunch green onions, or about 24 stalks, white parts only (reserve green parts for garnish)

6 ounces whole mushrooms or mushroom scraps

Place all vegetables in tonkotsu stock along with:

When the stock is at a rolling boil, continue boiling for 20 minutes. Season to taste with salt.

Add cooked ramen or Chinese-style noodles in a bowl, add stock and top with shredded egg, slices of pork, nori, grated fresh garlic and serve with soy sauce.

If tonkotsu stock is too much work for you, this recipe for ramen in miso broth could be ready in an hour instead of a day!

Ramen in Miso Broth

Serves 4

To make chicken stock:

Place in a colander and carefully pour boiling water over the sink:

1 pound chicken parts, such as necks, backs, and wings

With tongs, turn the chicken pieces and repeat pouring boiling water over chicken.

Place the chicken in a pot of:

5 cups cold water

1 tablespoon sake

1 piece kombu, 3 to 4 inches long and 2 inches wide

Bring to rapid boil, turn heat to simmer, and skim away any froth that rises to the top. Simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes.

Remove the pot from heat and add:

1/2 cup loosely packed katsuo-boshi or dried bonito flakes Strain stock through fine-mesh strainer.

Place in stock pot:

5 “iriko” or dried sardines

4 cups chicken stock

2 cups cold water

Heat over low heat, allow to simmer for 30 minutes.

Trim away root end of:

3 stalks green onions

Finely chop both white and green portions, separating them by color

Rinse in colander:

8 ounces mung bean sprouts

In a large skillet over high heat, dry-roast bean sprouts and white portions of green onion for a few seconds. Make sure there is no excess water. Add:

1/2 teaspoon sesame oil

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon sake

Transfer to a bowl and keep warm.

In the same skillet, turn heat to high and add:

6 shiitake mushrooms, dried , soaked in water to soften, stems removed and sliced

Add:

1/2 teaspoon sesame oil

Stir-fry for 10 seconds.

Pour the stock through and fine-mesh strainer into the pot, discarding any solids.

Warm 4 saimin bowls with boiling water. Boil in water until just al dente:

1 pound dried ramen

Place ramen noodles in each warmed bowl.

Using a small strainer (called a miso koshi) add into the simmering stock:

4 tablespoons white miso

Ladle the piping-hot miso broth ocer the noodles and top each bowl with a mound of bean sprouts mixture.

Garnish the bowls with the sliced green tops of the green onions.

Small Bites:

Although I came home from Japan with katsuo-boshi, dashi kombu and iriko, it is available in the Asian section of most supermarkets.

Please feel free to email me at audreywilson808@gmail.com if you have questions.

 

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