Tonkotsu Adventure No. 4 – success!

Notes from my fourth attempt at Tonkotsu. This is a Shio Tonkotsu ramen.

Components

BROTH

Based on the recipes in Mike & Scott Satinovers’ “The Book of Ramen“.

Yield: approx 22 cups of broth

Ingredients

  • 20 quart stock pot
  • 15 lbs mixed bones; for this iteration I used about 2/3 pork (misc pork bones, cross-cut pork hocks) and 1/3 chicken (chicken backs and a handful of wing tips).
  • enough water to cover the bones by 2″
  • 1 yellow onion, peeled and quartered
  • 10 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed

Steps

  1. Soak bones overnight in fresh water.
  2. The next day, pour out the water and add fresh water to cover. Parboil the bones, skimming and removing any scum that rises to the surface. Stir the bones to release scum from the bottom of the pot. When you don’t see any new scum coming to the surface, pour out the dirty parboil water.
  3. Rinse and clean bones in the sink. Clean the stock pot too! Remove any and all residual scum. This is essential to getting a milky tonkotsu broth.
  4. Add the cleaned bones back into the (also) clean 20 quart pot and fill with fresh water to cover the bones by 2″.
  5. Bring to a boil, reduce to a rolling steady boil (medium) and boil, covered, for 18 hours. Stir ~twice an hour (while you are awake). Make sure to monitor & check that you are maintaining a medium boil.
  6. (Prepare the chashu the same day you start the broth. It needs to soak in its soaking liquid overnight before cooking).
  7. After 18 hours at a medium boil, stir and admire what you have created, then add the onion and garlic cloves. Stir again and cover. Cook for another hour at a medium boil.
  8. After the last hour (19 hours total), turn off the heat and wait 30 minutes to handle the broth.
  9. Strain & transfer to a smaller pot.
  10. note: In order to retain as much broth as possible, I usually strain the bones in the sink. Set a large strainer in a large bowl in your sink. Move the whole pot of broth next to the sink (to save your floors). Skim the large bones out of the broth and set them in the strainer. Let drip into the bowl before moving to the trash, then repeat until you’ve removed all the pieces you can get using a large asian style skimmer. Pour any broth that has collected in the bowl back into your large pot.
  11. Now you are ready to strain using fine cheese cloth into a smaller pot.
  12. Take care not to lose any broth in the process. I don’t have to tell you that you just spent many hours making this liquid gold! So you should make a reasonable effort to save every last drop.
  13. Once adequately strained, immersion blend the broth to distribute the pork fat. At this point we usually portion out in freezer safe containers, let them cool, label with a date, and then move to the fridge/freezer.
  14. For portion size – we usually portion into 2 cup increments as we typically serve 1 cup of broth + (1.5 tbsp tare) for each serving.

TARE

Ingredients

  • 500g water
  • 50g salt (david’s kosher)
  • 33g MSG

Steps

  1. Combine in a saucepan, heat and stir until salt and MSG are dissolved.
  2. Store in the fridge until ready to use!

CHASHU

Ingredients

  • 2 lb pork belly w/out the skin – if long strips, cut each in half
  • 1/4 cup sake (for deglazing)
  • Braising liquid:
  • 1/2 cup mirin
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • Three garlic cloves, smashed

Steps

  1. Salt and pepper the pork belly on all sides. Preheat oven to 225F.
  2. In a preheated dutch oven over medium-high heat, place them fat side down – no oil needed – and sear, approx 20 minutes total, 4-5 min per side. Monitor them so they don’t burn. Remove and set aside.
  3. Add the sake to deglaze the pot. Over medium heat, stir constantly, until the sake is slightly reduced.
  4. Add braising liquid and pork, then cook in the oven for 2.5 hours. Flip the pork belly every 30 minutes.
  5. Remove from the oven, put the pork and braising liquid in a container and let marinate further, overnight.

NOODLES

  • Sun noodles – Medium. (Fresh noodles from H-Mart). Cook 2 minutes in rapidly boiling water.
  • A pack of these comes with two plastic baggies, basically two servings. But we find that 1 baggy is enough for two people.

OTHER TOPPINGS

  • Corn kernels (frozen) heated, then briefly sauteed with butter and freshly chopped garlic. Just for 30 seconds.
  • Thinly sliced scallions. Cut the scallions on a bias. Or, take the scallion and cut into 3 sections (lengthwise). Then line up next to your knife and cut in long strands.

Preparation Notes

  • Note: we serve 1 cup of broth per person. With 1.5 tbsp tare.
  • For cooking the noodles. (We use fresh Sun noodles.) Fill your largest pot with water, as much as you can safely handle, and heat on high until it reaches a rolling boil. It will take a while for the water to heat up so start this step first.
  • Get your mise-en-place ready!!! And set your table with chopsticks, ramen or pho soup spoons, and lots of napkins. This meal needs you to get your setup ready, because assembly will happen quickly.
    • Keep ramen bowls warm in a 300F oven. Take care when moving the bowls around after you’ve prepared the ramen! They will be very hot.
    • Slice the chashu. Place on a baking sheet and then into the oven (with the bowls) until ready to serve. But not for too long; you want to time this right, maybe 5 minutes before you are ready to serve.
    • Prep the corn, garlic, and butter.
    • Prep the scallions; slice into thin slivers at the bias.
  • Heat the broth to 120F~150F, depending on your preference. Turn off the heat. Immersion blend once more if the fat is separating or if you are heating a previously frozen broth. (Careful not to splatter! I usually pour the broth into a tall silicone measuring cap and then immersion blend. Leave it in the measuring cup until ready to serve, it won’t lose that much heat.)
  • Now you can begin.
    • Remove the bowls and pork from the oven.
    • Add the noodles to the rolling boil. Our noodles take 2 minutes, so you will need to move quickly. Stir and toss so there is some separation between the noodles.
    • Then – add the tare to the bowls (1.5 tbsp per bowl).
    • Add the broth to the bowls (1 cup per bowl).
    • Go back to the noodles – check on them, stir, and when done, strain/remove, and shake out any excess water with a few good shakes. They may be sticky. Add to the bowls using tongs (quickly!).
    • Top with the corn, pork, and then finally the scallions.
    • Serve and enjoy your masterpiece!

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