Can You Prepare a Gourmet Japanese Ramen with Tonkotsu Broth and Chashu Pork?

Ramen is a culinary icon of Japan and a symbol of its rich and diverse food culture. But this is not your typical instant noodle meal—it’s a delicate, flavour-packed, soul-warming dish that boasts a delightful blend of textures and aromas. With a robust, lip-smacking tonkotsu broth and a tender, succulent slice of chashu pork, this is a bowl of ramen that’s leagues away from your supermarket’s instant noodle aisle. It is the ultimate comfort food, and the best part is, you can prepare it at home.

The Art and Science of Tonkotsu Broth

Tonkotsu broth, the heart and soul of this ramen recipe, is a velvety, creamy broth made from boiling pork bones over several hours. This process extracts all the flavour, collagen, and marrow from the bones, creating a rich, complex broth that is the backbone of any great ramen.

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Start by getting your hands on some good-quality pork bones. Pork femur bones are typically used, but pork neck bones will also do. Rinse them clean under cold water, then place them in a large pot filled with water. Bring this to a boil and let it simmer for about 20 minutes. This initial boil helps to remove any impurities and scum from the bones.

After the initial boil, drain the bones and rinse them again under cold water. Clean the pot, then add the bones back in. Fill it with clean water and bring it to a boil again. Keep it on a rolling boil for at least 12 hours, ideally 18 to 20 hours. This long, slow boil is what breaks down the collagen in the bones and turns it into a rich, milky broth.

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At the 6-hour mark of boiling, add in your aromatics—onions, garlic, ginger, and leeks. You can also add a few whole black peppercorns for an extra kick.

Preparing the Chashu Pork

While the broth is boiling, you can start preparing the chashu pork. Chashu is a Japanese style of braised pork belly, slow-cooked until it’s tender and full of flavour.

Begin by rolling up a piece of pork belly and tying it securely with kitchen string. This will give your chashu its distinctive pinwheel look. Next, sear the pork belly in a hot pan on all sides until it’s nicely browned.

Once the pork is browned, add in your braising ingredients—soy sauce, sake, mirin, sugar, and water. Let this simmer on low heat for about 2 hours, turning the pork occasionally to ensure even cooking on all sides.

After 2 hours, remove the pork from the braising liquid and let it cool. Once it’s cooled, slice it into thin rounds. The chashu is now ready to be added to your bowl of ramen.

Making the Ramen Noodles

Ramen noodles are unique in their springy, firm texture, which allows them to stand up to the hot broth without getting soggy. To achieve this texture, ramen noodles are made using a specific type of alkaline water, called kansui.

For a simpler home recipe, you can substitute the kansui with a combination of baking soda and water. Combine plain flour, water, and baking soda, then knead it into a smooth, elastic dough. Roll out the dough and cut it into thin, even noodles. Boil the noodles just before you’re ready to serve your ramen.

Keep in mind that the noodles should be cooked al dente, to prevent them from becoming too soft when added to the hot broth.

Assembling Your Bowl of Ramen

Now that all your components are ready, it’s time to assemble your bowl of ramen. Start with a spoonful of tare—a concentrated sauce made from soy sauce, mirin, and sake—at the bottom of the bowl. Then add in your hot tonkotsu broth.

Next, add your boiled noodles to the bowl. Top it off with your slices of chashu pork, some finely chopped spring onions, and a boiled egg cut in half. You can also add other toppings like bamboo shoots, nori seaweed, and bean sprouts, according to your preference.

The process of making a bowl of gourmet ramen with tonkotsu broth and chashu pork is a labor of love, but the end result is a bowl of noodle soup that is complex, comforting, and utterly satisfying. While it may take a bit of time and effort, it’s a culinary adventure that’s worth undertaking. And let’s be honest, who could resist a bowl of homemade, hearty, and delicious Japanese ramen?

Ajitsuke Tamago: The Perfect Soft-Boiled Egg

No bowl of tonkotsu ramen is complete without an ajitsuke tamago, or a soft-boiled egg marinated in a sweet and savory sauce. This egg, when sliced open, reveals a custardy, slightly runny yolk that adds an extra layer of richness to the bowl.

Start by boiling some eggs until they’re cooked to a soft boil – about six to seven minutes. Once done, carefully peel the eggs and set them aside to cool. While the eggs are cooling, prepare your marinade. This typically consists of soy sauce, mirin, sake, and a touch of sugar, all combined in a bowl.

Submerge your soft-boiled eggs in this marinade, making sure they’re completely covered. Leave the eggs to marinate in the fridge for at least four hours, or ideally overnight. The result is a beautifully seasoned egg with a firm white and a soft, savory yolk that is a joy to bite into. The ajitsuke tamago is now ready to be served with your tonkotsu ramen.

Upgrading Your Ramen with Additional Toppings

While the tonkotsu broth, chashu pork, and ajitsuke tamago are the main stars of the tonkotsu ramen, there are several other toppings that can add even more texture and flavor to your bowl.

For added crunch, consider adding some bamboo shoots or bean sprouts. Sliced green onions can add a pop of color and a fresh, sharp flavor that cuts through the richness of the broth. Nori seaweed is a traditional ramen topping that provides a unique, umami flavor. You could also add some chicken feet for extra collagen and flavor in your broth.

Remember, the beauty of preparing your own ramen at home is that you can customize it according to your preferences. Feel free to get creative and add any other toppings you like.

Concluding Your Culinary Adventure

The journey of preparing a gourmet Japanese ramen with tonkotsu broth and chashu pork, complete with a soft boiled ajitsuke tamago and a selection of your favorite toppings, is indeed a culinary adventure. It’s a labor-intensive process that requires time, patience, and a real appreciation for the art of Japanese cooking. However, the reward is an incredibly flavorful, comforting bowl of ramen that you can proudly say you made from scratch.

Soak in the aromas, savor each spoonful, and take the time to appreciate every bite. After all, ramen is more than just a meal. It’s an experience, a labor of love, and a testament to Japan’s vibrant food culture. Making your own tonkotsu ramen from scratch is not just about enjoying a delicious bowl of noodle soup. It’s about immersing yourself in the rich, complex world of Japanese cuisine and bringing a piece of it into your own kitchen. Every bowl of ramen you make is not just a dish, but a story of tradition, culture, and culinary mastery. Happy cooking!