How to make Tonkotsu Ramen?

by Ramen Hero - July 07, 2021

RAMEN KAONASHI is currently serving as a Recipe Partner at Ramen Hero. As an experienced ramen chef, he will introduce us to Japanese ramen trends and even share some of his favorite recipes.  If you are interested in his other content, check out his Blog and YouTube Channel!

 

 

 

The recipe I will introduce this time is for Tonkotsu ramen. When people think of ramen, Tonkotsu ramen may be the first thing that comes to mind for many. The rich and creamy soup of Tonkotsu ramen has a powerful and intense flavor that is rarely found in other dishes. How wonderful would it be if we could recreate this at home? This recipe may be able to make that happen. It contains detailed instructions for preparing the chashu, tare, Tonkotsu (pork bones) soup, noodles, and toppings. Here I would like to introduce the recipe for the Tonkotsu soup that I think everyone will find most interesting.

 

Ingredients:

  • 1.7kg pork bones
  • 2pcs pork leg
  • 1pc pork fat

Method:

  1. Add pork bones into 2.8L of water in a large pot.
  2. Add pork leg 2pcs.
  3. Start the stove at high heat and bring to boil.
  4. Remove scum and continue boiling at high heat for 20min.
  5. Switch to low fire and simmer 2hours.
  6. Pour out about 90% of the soup into a separate pot and leave aside.
  7. Add water until it is at the same level as before.
  8. Add pork fat 1pc into the pot. Start the stove at high fire.
  9. Continue boiling for 90min at high fire.
  10. When pork is no longer covered in water, add more water.
  11. Continue to boil.
  12. The soup become milky and white in color.
  13. Take about half of the soup from earlier on and add into the boiling pot.
  14. Boil for about 30min.
  15. Add the remaining half of the soup.
  16. Boil for about 30min.
  17. Add the remaining half of the soup.
  18. Continue to boil about 40min, you can boil longer to get creamier soup.
  19. Strain soup.
  20. Soup is done.

 

Tips for food prep

 

Let's start with the ingredients. There are three ingredients in this Tonkotsu soup: pork bones, pork leg, and pork fat.

In this recipe, pork bones mean femur bones. As you can see from the video and pictures, the cut femur bones are used. To dissolve the umami of the bone marrow into the soup is important, so it is necessary to use cut pieces. If you want to use uncut bones, you can use a hammer to break them. However, because of the risk involved in this method, I do not recommend using it.

 

Both pork leg and pork fat are necessary ingredients for emulsifying the soup. When you think of Tonkotsu ramen, you probably think of a cloudy, creamy white soup. This is made possible by the emulsification of the soup, that is, the mixing of water and oil. In order to emulsify soup, an emulsifier and oil are needed. The emulsifier is the collagen in the pork leg. To be precise, when collagen is cooked, it turns into gelatin. The gelatin acts as an emulsifier.

 

Also, please note that pork bones and pork legs are pre-boiled in boiling water for about 5 minutes. Ramen restaurants also often pre-boil pork bones. The purpose of this is to remove the odor. The main source of the smell is the blood. When the bones are added to boiling water, this is extracted as scum. On the other hand, the umami elements of pork bones cannot be extracted unless they are heated for a certain amount of time. Therefore, pork bones are often pre-cooked. The pork fat is added to the pot as a solid lump and cut after it has softened, but of course it can be cut beforehand and added to the pot then. The important thing is to make sure that the fat dissolves into the broth, therefore it is more efficient to cut it into small pieces.

 

Tips for soup

 

Now, I want to focus on the step where the soup is simmering. In this recipe, the pot in which the soup is simmered is not covered with a lid. This is to remove the smell of the pork bones. This is not limited to Tonkotsu soup, but if you simmer the soup with the lid on, some of the aroma will dissolve into the soup because it will not dissipate. The soup contains both water and fat, whether the aromatic ingredients are water-soluble or fat-soluble. Particularly for pork bones, the aroma can be perceived as "smelly". Some people say that this "smell" is the charm of pork bone soup, but it may take some experience to be able to enjoy it.

 

In this article, I have described the soup in detail, but I would like those who are interested to pay attention to the entire recipe as well. Regarding chashu, the pork belly is cooked in water, cooled, the fat removed, seasonings are added, and the pork is cooked again. This is based on the cooking procedure of the Japanese traditional dish "Braised Pork Belly (Kakuni)". It may seem a bit time-consuming, but it allows the excess fat to be removed and the chashu to be juicy but not too heavy in flavor.

 

Tips for tare

 

Next, the tare. MSG is added to most Tonkotsu ramen to balance the umami. However, Ramen Kaonashi uses only natural ingredients in its recipe to bring out the umami. In this recipe, mussels and sake kasu(lees) are added to the tare to bring out the flavor of the Tonkotsu soup. Of course, MSG is not used in Ramen Hero's tare either. We hope you enjoy Totally Tonkotsu's pure and delicious pork bone soup which brings out the umami.

 

What makes difference in taste of Tonkotsu?

 

The taste of Tonkotsu ramen varies depending on the restaurant. This is due to a variety of factors, including the section of bone used and the length of time it is cooked. Even if the same femur bone is used, the taste will be completely different if it is cooked for a lesser amount of time and the marrow is used as the main flavor, or if it is cooked for a longer period of time at a higher temperature and repeatedly stirred to bring out the flavor of the bone. Another common ingredient is the pig's head. The flavor is brought out not only from the bones, but also the brain. I feel that using the pig's head as the main ingredient makes the soup more mellow and rich without including a lot of fat. The backbone may be difficult to create a deep flavor from, but it is an ideal part to make a quick soup. In addition, garlic and ginger are often added to remove odor and add aroma, and pork for chashu is cooked in the broth to transfer the flavor of the meat to the soup. For a more complicated process, some restaurants make the soup in three separate zundo pots. For example, the first pot is used to cook the pork bones with water and the second pot is used to simmer the pork bones in the soup cooked in the first one. And the third pot is used to simmer the pork bones in the soup cooked in the second one. However, it is not as simple as this, and various techniques are required to make sure that the concentration and aroma of the soup is the same at all times, including the ratio of the soup mixture, the right heat level and the quantity of pork bones. It is the craftsmanship of the ramen chef that makes all this possible.

 

Do you want to try to cook?

 

If you try this Ramen Kaonashi recipe, you may think that it is surprisingly easy to make soup. But what will you think when you repeat it two or three more times? Will you be able to produce the same taste every time? In addition, it is actually cooked in a very large pot with a lot of heat. It is hard work just to control the quality of the soup, but it's also extremely hard physical work. If there is a ramen chef near you who has been making wonderful Tonkotsu soup, you should savor the soup to honor him.