Ramen restaurants have recently become very popular in American cities and other cities around the world. Tonkotsu ramen is one of the most popular types of ramen both in Japan and other countries. Tonkotsu means pig bone, which is the base for the broth of this traditional Japanese ramen recipe. The process of boiling the pork bones for several hours creates a rich and creamy broth that pairs wonderfully with ramen noodles and toppings like chashu (braised pork belly), vegetables, and a seasoned egg. Creating restaurant quality tonkotsu ramen at home requires some patience, but the end result is well worth it!
Total cooking time: 14 hours
Yields: 4-6 servings
6lbs pork bones (traditionally trotters, but other bones can work) mostly cleaned of meat
1 large onion
6 garlic cloves
1 Tbsp ginger, roughly chopped
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
4 oz whole or sliced mushrooms
3lbs pork belly, rolled into a log with butcher’s twine
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 cup sake
1 cup soy sauce
2 cups water
2/3 cup sugar
1 knob ginger
1/2 cup soy sauce
3/4 cup mirin
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup mirin
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 Tbsp sake
1 tsp brown sugar
1 tsp rice wine vinegar
2 tsp minced ginger
2 tsp minced garlic
Ramen noodles (dry or fresh)
Desired toppings (mushrooms, bean sprouts, green onion, etc.)
For the broth:
- First, in a large pot blanch the pork bones in boiling water for 5 minutes. Drain and rinse them, cleaning them of any dark marrow or coagulated blood.
- Return clean bones to pot and cover with water. Bring back to a boil.
- While waiting for that to boil, add 2 Tbsp vegetable oil to a pan set over medium-high heat. Add onion, garlic, and ginger and allow vegetables to char on all sides. Once charred, add vegetables along with mushrooms to the pot with the pork bones.
- Remove any scum that appears within the first 20 minutes with a large spoon.
- Keep a lid over the pot and maintain a boil for 12 hours, adding cold water as needed to keep everything submerged.
- After 12 hours, remove pot from heat and allow to cool slightly. The broth should be pale and slightly thickened. Strain broth into a clean pot using a fine mesh strainer. Discard solids.
For the chashu:
- Add 2 Tbsp vegetable oil to a pan and sear the rolled pork belly over high heat for 10-15 minutes, rotating it to sear all sides.
- Transfer pork belly to a large pot or dutch oven along with all liquids, sugar, and ginger.
- Bring pot to a boil and then reduce to a low simmer. Allow to simmer for 2 hours, rotating the pork once every 30 minutes.
- Once pork is tender, remove from heat and allow to cool.
- Transfer pork to a container or plastic bag. Strain sauce from the pot and add ½ cup to the container with the pork. Allow to rest over night.
- When ready, cut chashu into slices and remove butcher’s twine. Broil in oven or fry in a pan until lightly browned.
For the seasoned eggs:
- Soft-boil your desired amount of eggs by cooking them in boiling water for 6 minutes.
- Remove eggs from water and immediately put them into an ice bath to halt the cooking process.
- While the eggs cool, create your marinade by combining the mirin, soy sauce, and water in a saucepan over high heat. Adjust the amount of water depending on how flavorful you want your eggs to be. Less water creates a stronger marinade and more water creates a more subtle marinade.
- Bring ingredients to a boil and allow to boil for 2-3 minutes, or until the alcohol from the mirin has evaporated. Remove from heat.
- While the marinade cools, remove the shells from the soft-boiled eggs and place the eggs in a container.
- Pour marinade over eggs so they are covered. Place container in the fridge and let sit for at least 24 hours before using for the best result.
- Add all ingredients to a saucepan and bring to a simmer.
- Allow to simmer 20-25 minutes, or until reduced to 1/2 cup.
- Strain and discard solids.
- Place roughly 1 Tbsp tare into the bottom of ramen bowls.
- Add tonkotsu broth to bowls and stir to combine with tare.
- Cook ramen noodles according to package instructions and then portion into bowls.
- Slice seasoned eggs in half and place on top of noodles in the bowl.
- Lay slices of chashu over the noodles, along with any additional toppings.
Although making restaurant quality tonkotsu may seem daunting, much of this recipe involves being patient and allowing ingredients to cook slowly and marinate to develop rich flavors. If you find yourself craving tonkotsu ramen and are interested in making it from scratch, give this recipe a try and enjoy!