Can you even….?? I made homemade tonkotsu ramen with pork belly chashu & ajitsuke tamago, all from scratch!
Lemme tell you, these last two weeks-worth of major kitchen activity have been ridiculously active and overwhelmingly busy! I wouldn’t have been nearly as successful or productive that first ramen-making weekend if it hadn’t been for TheHubbs™ willingness to do all the grocery shopping for me on that Friday afternoon while I was busy getting treatment done.
Not only did it take 18+ hours to make the tonkotsu broth the first time (20 hours for the second time) but it also took about 5 hours to make the chashu pork belly – these are seriously tasty and swoon-worthy projects that would make any weekend kitchen warrior proud!
I’ve always been keen to try tackling the job of making homemade ramen for years but I knew it would definitely be a project of serious undertaking. I didn’t realise TheHubbs™ was even keen for ramen until he had actually voiced a craving for it numerous times after he had watched an episode of Chef’s Table with me, on Netflix, about chef Ivan Orkin of Japan’s Ivan Ramen (Season 3):
I’ve admired Ivan Orkin’s cookbook, Ivan Ramen: Love, Obsession, and Recipes from Tokyo’s Most Unlikely Noodle Joint, for years and was pretty thrilled to see his story had been included as one of the episodes of Chef’s Table, and on The Mind of a Chef. Here’s a clip of Ivan doing a quickie recipe for shio ramen.
I am super proud to say that with encouragement from TheHubbs™ and a serious boost of steroids from my recent hip injections, I successfully made tonkotsu ramen broth using Kenji Lopez-Alt’s recipe from the Serious Eats website!
It’s an easy recipe to execute, it just takes time to do the tiresome job of cleaning and de-scumming of the pork & chicken bones. One very useful tip I would offer before actually beginning the broth-making, if you have the time: let your pork bones soak overnight in a big bowl of water in the fridge. This will give you headstart with getting rid of the extra scummy stuff when you do a quick 5minute hardboil purge(?) before actually making the ramen broth to give you a nice, clean, and eventually, super milky broth.
If anything, be prepared to do a fair amount of veggie prep-work and make sure you stock up on scallions… LOTS of scallions!
As for ramen’s traditional accompaniments: The first weekend I made ramen (two weekends ago) I made a very acceptable chashu substitute that was made with thin bone-less, and thick bone-in, pork loin chops. Before boiling the marinade, I evenly divided the aromatics in half and separated them into two cheesecloth pouches, then added one pouch into each sousvide bag along with half the marinade before adding in the pork chops. The key to making the pork loin chops juicy and tender, like pork belly chashu, is to cook it sousvide.
Make sure to cook the boneless chops separately from the bone-in chops so you don’t overcook the one or undercook the other. Once your porkchops are cooked for their preferred times, pull the bags from their hot water bath and dunk’em straight into an ice water bath to cool the meats right down and leave them in the marinade until you’re ready to eat; although I wouldn’t recommend keeping the cooked porkchops in their marinade for longer than 4-6 hours, as the meat will likely toughen up considerably because of the salt content from thew soysauce. If it’s going to hang around longer than the six hours, just drain the marinade into a separate container to use for later.
Speaking of the leftover marinade: With all that amazing porky-infused marinade juices leftover, make sure you save it to make your soft-centered eggs; you can’t have a proper bowl of ramen without a signature soysauce marinated egg!
Below, I have listed all the recipe links from Serious Eats that I’ve been using instead of writing it all out. Believe me when I say it’s easier this way — you’ll have all the answers to your most burning ramen questions at your fingertips from Kenji’s collection of ramen articles in one place.
Serious Eats Rich and Creamy Tonkotsu Ramen Broth Recipe
Plus, if you don’t can’t easily get access to a slab of pork belly, here’s my sousvide porkchop chashu; it really does make for a great pork belly alternative, especially if you prefer to have a less rich form of pork for your bowl of ramen. I’m really quite proud of it, even though it’s essentially a riff of the Serious Eats recipe ^_^
I have to say, I’m pretty pleased with how the ramen turned out given I’ve never actually eaten a ‘properly made’ bowl of ramen, my problem now is I still have to figure out how to properly season individual bowls of ramen before serving. I just wish someone could tell me how to make a bowl of shio and miso ramen like they do in Japanese ramen shops!
Sousvide Chashu Pork Chops
3 x Bone-less porkloin chops (1cm thickness)
2 x Bone-in thick cut pork chops (1″ thickness)
1/2 cup soy sauce
1 cup sake
1 cup mirin
1/2 cup sugar
6 scallions, roughly chopped
6 whole garlic cloves
One 2-inch knob ginger, roughly sliced
1 whole shallot, split in half (skin on)
Divide scallions, ginger, garlic and onion in half and wrap in cheesecloth pouches, tie with string.
Drop cheesecloth wrapped aromatics into pot with water, soy sauce, mirin, sake & sugar and heat until sugar is dissolved.
Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature.
Preheat sousvide bath to 65°C
Meanwhile, put porkloin chops together in a separate sousvide bag from bone-in chops. Set aside until marinade is cooled.
Into each sousvide bag, remove aromatics from their cheesecloth pouches and add to porkchops.
Divide cooled marinade evenly between each bag of porkchops. Remove air from bags, seal and drop into sousvide bath.
Cook boneless chops for 30 minutes.
Cook bone-in chops for 60 minutes.
Remove bags from sousvide bath after cooking and drop into ice water baths to cool down.
Put pork chops into a large enough container to accomodate all the chops and cover with marinade until ready to eat, up to 4 hours. If not eating right away within four to six hours, remove chops from liquids and set aside in a separate container to use for flavouring individual bowls of ramen broth, if desired, or discard.
Use any extra remaining marinade to marinate softboiled eggs.
Sousvide Soysauce Eggs
6 eggs, cold from fridge
Leftover cooked Chashu Marinade
Cheesecloth (or paper towel)
Ice water bath
Optional (yet very useful): drawstring produce pouch to hold eggs
Preheat sousvide bath to 90°C
Put eggs gently into drawstring pouch and set aside.
When temperature is reached, gently lower eggs into bath and clip drawstring to pot.
Cook eggs for 9minutes.
Immediately remove drawstring pouch from hot water bath and drop into ice water bath.
Crack & remove egg shells when cool enough to handle but still very warm, then drop eggs into chashu marinade.
Cover eggs with cheesecloth soaked in marinade and refrigerate until ready to eat.
When ready to eat, cut egg in half and serve.
If not eating within 4hrs, remove eggs from marinade and discard to prevent rubbery eggs.
How I assemble my bowl of ramen