Ramen has so many techniques and nuances concentrated in one bowl. As difficult it is, you'll find yourself a better cook afterwards.
Written by Doobydobap
Ok, this is not the world’s simplest, easy-peasy weeknight dinner recipe.
Ramen has so many techniques and nuances concentrated in one bowl. Making tonkotsu ramen from scratch was definitely a humbling experience for me that made me respect ramen-ya (ramen shop) owners even more. It took me a week of trial and error to get the broth / noodle I was happy with.
Making ramen takes time, patience, and endurance. I swear, I had a few waking-up-in-the-middle-of-the-night-drenched-in-sweat-bc-i-dreampt-i-burnt-my-broth moments. I was honestly so angry by the time I was finished assembling my bowl that when I took the first bite…
… wait what was I talking about?
Oh lord it was heavenly. Truly a r-Amen moment. That moment, all her troubles were forgiven. The richness of the broth, the springy noodles, the smoky soft cha-shu, the crunchy menma and the scallions. I swear I could’ve seen a halo on top of my bowl.
If you saw my youtube video, you’d know that my first attempt was a fail. I initially based my recipe on J.Kenji Lopez-Alt’s article posted about tonkotsu ramen on serious eats from 2012. He used chicken carcass, but I wanted to keep my tonkotsu pure so omitted the chicken bones. His method was charring the aromatics to infuse with the broth. However, this was one of the reasons why the broth was brown- the caramelization that happened from the charred vegetables tainted the color of the broth.
I was looking for tonkotsu broth’s signature bone-white color you can only get by stewing the bones for a long time. The white color would be a true indication that all the marrow, fat, gelatin, and collagen successfully emulsified into the broth.
As I scoured through the ramen fanatic blogs, I stumbled upon a legendary recipe posted by ramen_lord on reddit six years ago. He also had the same problem as me - his broth was brown. So along with some of his suggestions, I tweaked my recipe.
This recipe is adapted from @ramen_lord on reddit.com/r/ramen
Tonkotsu broth (Serves 8 - around 3L of stock)
- 1 kg of pork femurs
- 1 kg of pork trotters (I used 3)
Noodles & Toppings
- Alkaline noodles (Link to recipe) 200g per person
- Cha-shu (Link to recipe)
- 6 minute Jammy Egg (Link to recipe)
- Menma (bamboo shoots, optional)
- Scallions, chopped finely
- ¼ cup dried anchovies
- 1 kombu
- ½ cup soy sauce
- ½ cup sake
- 1 tbsp salt
- Call your local butcher and ask for pork bones in advance. They will usually let you know when they get their carcass so you can have fresh bones. They will most likely be happy to sell you some of their “scraps” for cheap. I was able to get all the bones for 5 pounds (GBP/ around $7 USD).
- Ask your butcher to cut the bones into smaller chunks. (I initially made my broth with the bones as whole and the marrow did not get a chance to seep into the broth)
- Clean the bones. Make sure there is no dirt on the trotters. Oftentimes, there is dirt dislodged between the trotters. So make sure to spread those toes apart to get that gunk out.
- Let the bones sit in cold water for 6 hours. This helps with getting the broth cleaner.
- Fill up your pot with the bones until the water barely submerges above the bones.
- Bring to a boil over high heat
- Once the scum rises to the top, strain the bones.
- Scrub away the scum and coagulated blood on the bones with a brush.
- Scrub the pot clean
- Add fresh water until the bones are fully submerged
- Bring to a boil, then put on medium heat for 12 hours.
- During this time, if the water level gets too low, add more water.
- Once the broth is finished, everything should be almost completely disintegrated.
- Strain the broth and reserve the broth in an airtight container.
- Cool overnight.
Cha-shu (Link to recipe)
Alkaline Noodles (Link to recipe)
6 minute Jammy Egg (Link to recipe)
I wanted to try amplifying the umami of my tonkotsu broth with an anchovy based tare sauce + leftover chashu sauce. You can just use the chashu sauce as your tare as well- but if you do, supplement with ½ cup soy sauce to even out the sweetness
- Toast the anchovies on low heat.
- Once the anchovies have toasted, add all the ingredients EXCEPT for bonito flakes
- Once the kombu has softened (5 minutes), turn the heat off and steep the bonito flakes.
- Strain and mix with leftover cha-shu sauce.
- Heat your pork broth. Yes, it should coagulate like pork jello. This is a sign that all that good marrow, fat, gelatin, and collagen successfully emulsified into the broth. Do not be freaked out. Pat yourself on the back.
- Spoon 2 tbsp of tare mixture into your bowl.
- Warm your bowl with hot water. Discard water.
- Once the broth is boiling and piping hot, gently pour it in the bowl to mix with the tare.
- Gently place the noodles on a bed of hot broth. Scoop the noodles with your chopstick and lay it over unto itself away from you. This helps the noodles stay separated and not clumped.
- Garnish with 6 minute egg, charred chashu, menma (bamboo shoots- optional), and finely diced scallions.
- Savor. Every. Bit. Until. You. Hold. Your. Bowl. For. The. Last. Drop. Of. Broth.
Hi, I’m Tina aka Doobydobap!
Food is my medium to tell stories and connect with people who share the same passion. My recipes are a culmination of my experiences. I hope you enjoy recreating them at home, and if you do, make sure to tag me on Instagram!
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