Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Tonkotsu Ramen Soup

Attemping to make your own Tonkotsu ramen soup is really not for the faint hearted in both sense of the word. Not only must your heart withstand the amount of dissolved fats in the soup, you must also overcome your fear of handling the loanshark's tool, the pig's head. In addition, the agony of waiting for the soup to be the soup you want it to be... which often will not happen during your first try. Since so much effort and time is to be invested, I got myself a gigantic stock pot to hold more than 10l of fluid to make at least 3l of stock for at least 2 meals of ramen for my family.

My personal experience definitely taught me a lot about the next batch of soup I am making.

1) Never be too greedy to dump whatever the buthcher gives extra for free.
I was a tad too greedy when the butcher gave me the whole pig's skin for a dollar when I only needed like 30cm. Even after tossing some away and cooking the rest with the char shu, I still have about 70cm worth of skin. My soup ended up too sticky and thick as the gelatine from the skin and the head dissolves in the soup. As I like my soup tasty and runny, I've decided to skip the head next time and replace it with 2kg of spine bone.

I started to cook everything at 10.30am and wanted to have the ramen ready by dinner time, which was 6pm. That leaves me with only 7.5hrs to prepare the broth. I turned up the fire and I got my 3L of stock ready by then. I realised that at such high heat, my stock was darker and the flavours from the vegetables and herbs were overpowered by the meat. Perhaps the fragrance from them was destroyed by the high heat.

3) More practice
I've also learned that i should boil the bones till the soup is almost done before adding the vegatables and herbs for the last hour to add on to the flavour. At the end of the day, it is only a soup base which needed more flavouring when used for ramen, like miso, shoyu and salt. It is a combination that I am still discovering.... :)

Soup after 4hrs

Soup after 6hrs + some corn

Soup after straining

3l of Soup:
2kg pork bone
30cm pork fat & skin
2 pork trotters or pigs head
2 chicken bone
10l water
2” ginger
1 whole garlic
4 onions
5 carrots
2 apples
2 leeks or 4 spring onions
½ cup shitake mushrooms
½ cup niboshi
6inch large kombu
1tsp Sake
1tsp Shoyu

1. Boil bones to remove blood and grit.
2. Change water and boil at high heat for about 20mins, removing foam and grit until clear.
3. Fry ginger, garlic and onion until caramelized and add into stock.
4. Remove kombu and niboshi.
5. Simmer for 12hrs until thick and milky.

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