You would think that after 8-12 hours of making this broth for tonkotsu ramen, it would taste amazing. It did not. For the first couple taste test, I didn’t realize that the seasoning was in the tare all along. Tare is the main contributing factor in giving the broth that depth of flavor. And that depends on what kind of tare you use. There are three main tares. Shoyu, Shio, and Miso. Shoyu tare is shoyu based and it accentuates existing flavors in the broth. Similarly, shio is salt-based tare and it does the same, but it is lighter in color, and it doesn’t have the same richness of shoyu. And then there is Miso tare which is derived from miso paste and out of the three, this one has the most umami flavor. But it isn’t my favorite, that would be a shoyu tare . And that starts with the niboshi dashi (anchovy stock). It can be made from soaking dried anchovies, dried shrimp, dried shiitake mushrooms, katsuobushi and kombu in water. This has to soak to draw out the flavors from the dried ingredients and the longer you do it the better. Then it has simmer for 30 to 45 minutes on low heat to reduce into a much more concentrated dashi when you strain it. 100 ml of the dashi will be used to make the shoyu tare. 2 tbsp. of usukuchi shoyu and 1 tbsp. of koikuchi shoyu. Then 1 tsp mirin and 1 tsp sake. This is to give it a hint of sweetness. Heat this until it reaches a simmer or 80 Celsius. This is in order to kill the yeasty taste in shoyu. This should leave you with about 9 tbsp. of shoyu tare which is good for 3 servings of ramen.
After researching into it, many “good” tares has incorporated a type of dashi stock into the recipe. Dashi is a core foundational ingredient present in a lot of Japanese cuisine and it is due to its chemical properties. The chemical properties such as glutamate and inosinate of nucleotide works together to enhance the umami flavor many times more. High levels glutamate can be found in kombu where as high levels of inosinate can be found in katsuobushi. Thus, many chefs would develop a variant of ichiban dashi to incorporate to their dishes. Ichiban dashi is the combination of kombu and katsuobushi. I also approached it the same way with my recipe and incorporated niboshi to elevate both these chemicals.
The broth on its own barely has any flavor and that is where the tare comes in. Tare is the main contributing factor in giving the broth the flavor. However, tare can greatly overshadow the nuances of the pork flavor in the broth, so you must understand what type of tare is appropriate to your preference. There are three main types of tares: Shoyu Tare, Shio Tare, and Miso Tare.
Types of Tare
Shoyu tare is shoyu based. The main components of shoyu tare include shoyu, mirin, sake, and salt. In my personal experience, shoyu tare is my go-to tare for tonkotsu ramen. It brings out most of the soup and if you add niboshi dashi (anchovy stock), you will have a very rich umami flavor that draws out the likeness of the pork flavor.
Shio Tare is salt/dashi based. The main components of shio tare are salt and dashi which are made from primarily soaking kombu (dried seaweed) and bonito flakes overnight. Then it has to simmer on low heat to make a concentrated broth. Other components such as dried seafood and mushrooms can be added to strengthen the umami flavor of the dashi. Once the dashi has been made, you add salt, mirin, and sake. This is the ideal tare if you really like want that iconic white color to remain the same. I would it’s not as rich in flavor in comparison to shoyu, but it is a good alternative if you don’t like shoyu.
Miso Tare is miso based. The main components of miso tare are miso pastes (fermented soybeans). There are 3 main types of miso paste: white miso, red miso, and yellow miso. Other variations of miso paste vary by the type of ingredient that was exaggerated, but we will only focus on these three types since they are the most available in stores near me. One way to differentiate the amount of saltiness and umami flavor is the color. The lighter the color of the miso, the sweeter it is and the darker the color, the saltier it is. You can probably guess that yellow miso paste has a balance of sweet and salty without losing too much of the umami flavor. In terms of adding this type of tare to tonkotsu, I couldn’t find a balance of flavor since I had to mix white and red miso due to the unavailability of yellow miso. So I had to make use of what I got, but I still couldn’t get the right amount that wouldn’t overwhelm the pork broth. I truly think spicy miso tare is a good addition, but once I have found a good balance, I will update soon!
Shoyu Tare - Tonkotsu Ramen
- 400 ml water
- 5 g dried anchovy
- 5 g dried shrimp
- 5 g dried shiitake mushrooms
- 5 g bonito flakes
- 5 g konbu
- 100 ml niboshi dashi
- 2 tbsp usukuchi shoyu
- 1 tbsp koikuchi shoyu
- 1 tsp sake
- 1 tsp mirin
- First, measure all the ingredients for the first part.
- In a small bowl, add the anchovy, shrimp, shiitake mushrooms, bonito flakes, konbu, and the water. Let it rest in the fridge overnight.
- Now it is time to make the niboshi dashi. In a small pan, add all of the soaked content including the water. Let it simmer on low heat for 45 minutes closed.
- After 45 minutes. strain niboshi dashi. You will roughly get an estimate of 300 mL of the dashi left. Let it rest for 5-10 minutes.
- To prepare the shoyu tare, add 100 mL of the niboshi dashi with the usukuchi shoyu, koikuchi shoyu, sake, and mirin. Have it on high heat until it boils and the smell of the sake and mirin has dissipated (roughly 2-3 minutes).
- You should be left with roughly 9 tbsp of tare. To serve with tonkotsu broth, use 2-3 tbsp of the tare. Enjoy!