Tonkotsu is translated to "pork bone-broth" in Japanese. This incredibly deep and rich broth is not for the faint of heart and takes a full day or at least overnight to make. Plan accordingly. I always make extra so I can freeze it and pull it for whenever I’m craving this amazing dish. This recipe is my version of Tonkotsu broth that I have changed with the addition of smoked ham hocks and pork bones. I keep in my freezer after anytime I BBQ so they are ready to go when I need them. This recipe is for the broth itself. All of my condiments and garnishes are in the ramen condiment blog page.
This dish is meant to go with The Daley Trade fresh ramen noodles. The fresh noodles texture and flavor are far superior to any dry noodle. With the addition of a few other toppings you can make a dish that will truly blow peoples minds. Separate, I will have some recipes for the different condiments and toppings that are my go-to when cooking this dish at home.
NOTE: If you don’t have the time or patience to make a broth from scratch, I have a fantastic way to take you boring old ramen packet you can find in any store and add fresh noodles to make the best store bought ramen you will ever have! Check out our Lazy Boi ramen page on our blog.
What Makes It Tonkotsu?
Blanching the pork bones and rinsing them of impurities ensures the broth comes out pale, rather than a dark brown.
Charring the aromatic vegetables adds a deep depth of flavor to the broth.
Keeping the broth at a low, rolling boil allows the fat to come out of the bones and emulsify the broth, which makes the broth light colored and creamy.
YIELD: Makes about 4-5 quarts of broth, 8-10 servings
Prep time: 2 hrs
Cook time: 12-16 hrs
Total time: 12 to 18 hrs
3 pounds- Pig trotters, split lengthwise or cut crosswise into 1-inch disks (ask your butcher to do this for you)
2 pounds- Smoked ham hocks
2 pounds-Smoked pork bones (optional). Substitute smoked chicken necks or for a milder smoky flavor, chicken bones
3 each- Large sweet onion, (not peeled) halved horizontally
2 Tbsp.-Dried shrimp (optional)
2 heads- Garlic, halved horizontally
2 each, 4-inch knobs- Ginger, halved lengthwise
3 each- Whole leeks, washed and halved lengthwise
1 dozen- Scallions, white parts only (reserve greens and light green parts for garnishing finished soup)
6 ounces- Mushroom caps, scrap and stems, (reserve 1/2 caps for garnishing finished soup)
1 pound-Pork fat back
1. Place pork bones, (just the trotters) in a large stockpot and cover with cold water (just enough to submerge the bones). Place on a burner over high heat and bring to a boil. Take off the heat once it come up to a boil.
2. If you have a grill:Pre heat it on high until it gets as hot as possible. Once hot add your onions, and leeks, cut side down. Add your ginger skin side down. Grill the vegetables without moving or touching them until the one side is deeply charred: 5-10 min. depending on how hot your grill gets.
If you don’t have a grill: Heat a large skillet over high heat until lightly smoking. Add onions, and leeks, cut side down. Add your ginger skin side down. Without moving or touching them until the one side is deeply charred: 5-10 min depending on your stovetop and pan. NOTE: you may have to work in batches so you don’t overcrowd your pan as well as cutting your leeks in half to fit the pan.
3. Once your stockpot has come to a boil, dump water down the drain. Rinse your bones under cold running water, washing them and taking care to remove any dark looking bits and coagulated blood. Bones should be grey/white after you've washed them.
4. Return the bones to your stockpot along with the charred vegetables, garlic, scallion whites, mushrooms, smoked ham hocks, smoked pork bones, and the pork fatback. Add cold water to the pot, enough to cover everything by an inch. Bring to a rolling boil over high heat, skimming off any impurities that appears for about 5 min. Reduce heat to a high simmer and place a lid on top.
5. Once the lid is on, check the pot after 15 minutes. Your stock should be at a slow rolling boil. If not, increase or decrease your heat slightly to adjust. Skim your stock again if there are still impurities floating to the top.
6. Slow boil the broth until the pork fatback is completely tender, about 3-4 hours. When it’s done you should be able to easily pierce it with a small knife or skewer. Carefully transfer the fatback to a container and let cool, once at room temperature refrigerate the fat back and reserve for later. Continue cooking the broth until it is opaque with the texture of light cream, about 6 to 8 hours longer. IMPORTANT: You must keep adding water as necessary to keep bones submerged at all times. If you leave the pot unattended for an extended period of time, top off the pot and reduce the heat to low until you return.
7. When your broth is ready, reduce your liquid to around 4 quarts. Strain your broth through a chinois or a fine mesh strainer into a clean pot. Throw away all the solids and everything except the liquid. Skim the liquid fat from the top with a ladle and discard. Optional, but I recommend reserving a cup or more of the liquid fat to make a super flavorful oil for garnish. (See in condiments section)
8. Your ramen broth is ready to serve! You can season your broth with any seasonings of your choice: tare sauce, salt, soy sauce, miso, sesame paste, grated fresh garlic, chili oil or a mixture of all. We highly recommend tare sauce to start with (recipe in the ramen condiment blog) and of course serve with The Daley Trade fresh ramen noodles. Garnish with all the vegetables and proteins that you desire.
9. Take the reserved pork fat back from the refrigerator. You will use this for one of your ramen garnishes; it is usually placed on top of your noodles and is gently warmed in the broth or in pan. This can be sliced thin and will almost melt back into the hot broth, or cut it into larger pieces and crisp it up in a pan like bacon.