If you’re a fan of ramen then you have no doubt had the tonkotsu variety at some point. It is definitely my favourite form of ramen as the broth has a distinct, rich subtlety to it that some of the miso-based broths tend to overpower — I still love miso broth as well, don’t get me wrong!
Tonkotsu means ‘pork bone’ and refers to the pork bones used to make the broth. Pork bones are something you can get from a lot of butchers, Chinese butchers should always have them, however you might still want to call up your butcher to find out. If you don’t like pork or want a leaner, clearer brother, then you can use chicken necks instead.
I use two powders for this dish, shown below.
The first is a seaweed stock powder and the second is a bonito powder. I use these in order to create a dashi stock, a seaweed stock used for a lot of Japanese noodle broths and they are necessary for this dish to give it that umami flavour that makes ramen so good.
If you can’t find the specific brands that I have used, just use what you can find from your local Asian supermarket. You can also use fresh kombu and bonito flakes to make the dashi instead, but these are harder to come by.
Through much experimenting, I have come up with a tonkotsu ramen that comes about as close to the ramen I love to eat out at Japanese places as I can get it, and uses mostly fresh ingredients. This dish is best paired with my chashu pork recipe, which will help to elevate these simple noodles to a whole new level of flavour.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 1.5 hours
- 200g pork bones
- 400g fresh ramen noodles
- 2 litres (8.5 cups) water
- 1 packet seaweed stock powder
- 1 packet bonito stock powder
- Coriander for garnish
- 1 large bok choy
- 1 onion
- 2 cloves garlic
- 2 stalks celery
- 1 carrot
- 1 small knob ginger
- 75ml light soy sauce
- 3 tbsp mirin
- 2 tbsp oyster sauce
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- 2 Large pots
- Chopping board
Preparing the Broth and Vegetables
- For the bok choy, simply separate all the leaves and wash thoroughly, then slice each leaf in half lengthwise and put aside for later.
- Halve the onion, cut the celery and carrot into large pieces and add all ingredients, with the garlic, ginger, and the pork bones, to a large pot.
- Add the water to the pot and bring it to the boil. Skim off any scum that rises to the surface and reduce the heat to a simmer. Simmer for 1 hour or until reduced by half.
- Once the broth has come down, strain the liquid off. Put the liquid back into the pot and add the dashi, bonito, mirin, soy and oyster sauce. Simmer the new liquid for a further 20 minutes.
Cooking the Noodles and Bok Choy
- While the broth simmers, put on a pot of salted water for the ramen and the bok choy.
- Bring it to the boil and put the bok choy in the pot, cook it for approximately 30 seconds and then remove with tongs and keep to the side.
- Make sure the water boils again and then add the noodles and follow the packet instructions. Fresh (non-dried) noodles generally take about 30 seconds to a minute to cook, whereas the dry will take about 3-4 minutes. Do not cook the noodles in the broth. It may seem like a good idea, but the noodles will release starch in to the broth and ruin it. Many cooked brands of noodles also have flour on them, which will thicken the broth and spoil it as well.
This tonkotsu ramen requires a bit of time and will likely need a few attempts to get it perfect, but the ability to make authentic ramen at home is honestly worth the extra effort.
This tonkotsu ramen recipe is constantly evolving. Ramen is a dish that is incredibly simple, but because of that, requires a lot of attention to its primary ingredients in order to get the most out of them. I use pre-cooked ramen noodles for this tonkotsu ramen, as I have found through much experimenting that they generally cook up the best.
With ramen, you want the noodles to have a good amount of bite to them (like al dente spaghetti) and the dried varieties seem to overcook fairly easily.
If you do want to do a vegetarian variety of ramen, you can either remove the pork bones or use the broth from my udon recipe and just use ramen noodles instead. Make sure to check out the chashu pork recipe in order to bring out this ramen’s true potential!
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