Stove - Tonkotsu Broth
Servings: 8-10 people
In order to get that white, thick and creamy broth for your tonkotsu ramen, it takes time like 8 to 12 hours kind of time. What is happening is that pork bones are being broken down and fat is being emulsified into the broth using a stove. But even before that, you have to do two things to get this white color: Soak and Preboil. Soaking will remove the myoglobin which gives it the red color. 4-5 hours is a standard, but I highly recommend soaking overnight. Yes that’s more time and then you pre-boil.
This will extract any remaining impurities in the form of scum that affects the color , and you will have to skim that off. This takes around 15-30 minutes or until scum stops floating to the top. And make sure to stir the pot cuz scum could be hiding underneath. Then you have to rinse, and not just rinse, you have to clean some of the gunk attached to the bones. Use your fingers. Rub it good. These two steps are vital if you really want that iconic color.
So now it’s time to boil. A good rule of thumb is to always have enough water to cover the bones from start to finish which means you will have to add water here and there. This will happen more than once, because you are boiling the bones at high heat. This is known as rolling boil where it extracts the collagen and the protein as well emulsify the fat into the broth. And please make sure you stir the pot periodically to prevent any bones from sticking to the bottom. And oh don’t forget to refill the water.
Simple aromatics for tonkotsu ramen can be green onions, carrots, onions and cabbage.
Towards the end like 1 or 2 hours, add your aromatics. For me I kept it simple, onion, cabbage, green onions, carrots. It’s not mandatory, but it adds a different dimension to the broth. If you do plan to add any, clean and skin off any parts that are dirty. Note that aromatics should only be added at the end, cuz any earlier would simply break it down rendering it useless. It could also ruin the color of your broth. So, the amount of broth left should be relative to how much bones you put in and the time you have boiled it for given that you refill the water. More time equates to much richer/thicker and more broth.
Pressure Cooker - Tonkotsu Broth
Servings: 4-5 people
I spent a week or so trying to find easier ways to be able to enjoy a tonkotsu ramen at home without having to spend the entire day making it, because no one has that much time for free. A good alternative to cut down the time, is with a pressure cooker (thanks to Way of Ramen). When you cook on the stove, breakdown and emulsification is happening all at the same time. But using a pressure cooker actually separates the two. Under pressure, bones are being broken while uncovered allows rolling boil to emulsify the fat. 2-3 hours give or take. But, you still have to soak and preboil. There is no way around that. Once you have placed the bones into the pressure cooker with enough water to cover it. Let it cook on high heat opened until it reaches a boil and then cover it for 1 hour. Once that’s done, you can either fast release or let it naturally release. But in the spirit of cutting the time. Stir the inside of the pot. Cook it uncovered for 1 hour. And if you do plan to add aromatics, add 30 more minutes uncovered. And stir. You can actually cook for longer; it just depends on how much broth you want which means you might to refill. Once you’re satisfied, strain the broth. If the fat hasn’t emulsified, you can use an immersion blender. Or if you’re like me, just use a blender. 1 min on your highest setting. I would personally say it’s good enough for the time you spent on it
Simple - Tonkotsu Broth
Simple Tonkotsu Broth
- 3 lbs pork bones Ex: femur/neck bones
- 1/2 lb pork back fat(optional) If not available, use pork belly fat.
- 8 L water (starting) This is the starting amount of water you will add to the stock.
- 8 L water (additional) This is the total amount of water you will be adding to the stock.
Simple Tonkotsu Broth: Aromatics (Optional)
- 1/2 onion
- 3 green onion stalk
- 2 medium-sized carrots (peeled)
- 1/4 cup cabbage
- First, the pork bones must be soaked in water for at least 5 hours, preferably overnight. This is to remove the myoglobin. Myoglobin gives it a red color, so removing will result in a white texture.
- After soaking it, then the pork bones have to preboil for 10-15 minutes. Skim any scum that floats in the water. Make sure to stir often to allow any scum in the bottom to float up. Note: You will know you are done with the skimming, once white scum starts to show up. Once, the brown scum is gone and only white scum is floating up to the top, you can then rinse.
- Start rinsing the bones with cold water. Make sure to scrub any scum that is stuck to the bones. Use a brush or your fingers to get into the crevices of the bones.
- In a big stock pot, place the bones along with the starting amount of water or enough to at least cover the top of the water. Note: the amount of water should always cover the bones. So if the bones start to show up to the surface, just add more water.
- Make sure to boil on high heat, because you want to achieve emulsification. To completely break down the bones and emulsify the fat, the broth has to be in a rolling boil. It is at a point where “large bubbles rise quickly to the surface of the liquid”. This is a key part of the process as the rolling boil emulsifies the fat into the broth. ALWAYS KEEP THE HEAT ON HIGH. It breaks down the collagen, marrow, and fat, which contributes to the thickness and flavor of the broth
- After an hour of boiling, add the pork fat if you desire.
- The length of the boil is completely up to preference. However, the standard for most of the broth that I have practiced with was at least 8 hours. If you have reached the 8-hour mark, you will start to see the iconic characteristics of rich and white broth. The meat on the bones will have already fallen off.
- Throughout the length of the boil, you will have to stir the broth to prevent anything from sticking and burning. I would advise stirring every 30 minutes. For the water, as I mentioned before, you will have to refill to make sure the bones do not show up on the surface.
- The end of the boiling time depends on your preference, add as much water as much as you need and want. Towards the end of the boil preferably the last hour, add the aromatics.
- Once you have reached that thickness and creaminess that you prefer, strain the broth. “Note: if it is too thick and creamy, you can use a fine-mesh strainer or cheesecloth to reduce the viscosity of the broth. But if you prefer as such, then just strain it normally.
- Let it cool down. For storage, you can put it into the freezer for a month. Heat it on the stove and serve (1 to 1.5 cup) with noodles aromatic oil, tare (preferably shoyu), aromatic oil (ginger, pork lard, green onions, and any toppings you like! Enjoy