Have you ever had ramen so good that even the thought of it makes your mouth water? My favorite place to get ramen in Charlotte is Futo Buta. Hands down! My order is always the same, Tonkotsu Ramen with extra Chashu Pork Belly, and no scallions. A while ago, prior to researching “how to make ramen at home,” I ventured to my local grocery store and bought a packet of what I thought would turn out to be a flavorful Tonkotsu broth and an even more incredible bowl of ramen. Not even close. As a matter of fact, the entire bowl went into the garbage.
So, I was on a mission to locate a magnificent recipe. It takes how long to make? That long? I invested the time. All I can say, so worth every second of the almost two day process. Sure, it’s not something I will make once a month, but I can freeze the broth for later, and have whenever I want.
Check out the original recipe from Glebe Kitchen by clicking here! I tried to stay as true to the recipe as I could. Thanks for all the hard work you put into creating this Tonkotsu Ramen with Chashu Pork Belly. Well, first of all, I had no freaking clue how to make it. Secondly, the recipe sounded so good, and it seemed like they put a lot of effort into perfecting it. Other than a few minor tweaks, this is their version, recreated by me. There are many steps involved, so bear with me. Try this! Do this! You will not be disappointed, and will amaze yourself when you finally get to sit down with this fabulous bowl of Tonkotsu Ramen with Chashu Pork Belly! Extra pork belly, that is!
WHAT YOU NEED
I think it is very important to provide you with a list of kitchen tools and items, other than the recipe ingredients, that will make this process a bit easier. I’ll link a few of these items if you need to grab them:
- Heavy enameled cast iron pot
- Fine mesh strainer
- Precision cooker (Sous Vide)
- Sous Vide Container (optional…can use a pot)
- Large freezer or storage bags
- Ramen Bowls
- Kitchen twine
I sous vide the pork belly. If you do not want to invest in a precision cooker, you can either use an Instant pot, crock pot, or even roast the pork belly in the oven. However, the tenderness and flavor you will get from the sous vide method will probably not be achieved using any of these alternatives. Honestly, I am so happy I invested in a precision cooker. I use it quite often, and created a number of recipes utilizing this cooking method. Click here to view.
Now that we have the administrative details down, let’s move on to making the bone broth and Chashu pork belly. Both elements are critical in order to ultimately achieve our goal of the best ramen bowl ever! Both the bone broth and the Chashu pork belly will require 12 hours of your time. Thankfully, not constant attention. You may want to plan ahead to prepare both the day prior, or start both of these recipes early enough to serve for dinner the same day.
TONKOTSU RAMEN BONE BROTH
BOILING THE BONES
In all of my research, I have found that the basis of any amazing ramen bowl, starts with the broth. In order to achieve greatness, the bones need to be cooked, or in this case, boiled for a long period of time. This allows the collagen, and other goodness from the bones to produce a milk-like stock. This is what you want. No clear broths here!
Tonkotsu broth is made from pork bones. Where in the world will you find them? I found pork neck bones at New Asia Market. Super inexpensive. I did think the bones had a bit too much meat on them, so I trimmed them up just a touch prior to cooking. A little bit of meat is ok, and actually adds flavor.
Place the pork bones in a large stock pot, similar to the enameled cast iron pot I mentioned above. Cover the bones with cold water. Bring pot to a boil. After about five minutes or so, you will notice a layer of muck, or scum form. Pour the contents of the pot into a colander. Rinse each of the bones very well. Clean out the pot and add the rinsed bones back in.
Cover the bones with more cold water. Add in the mushrooms and onion. Bring to a boil. Maintain a rolling boil over the next 12 hours. Yes, I said the next 12 hours. See I told you this is a crazy commitment.
Periodically, you will need to check the water level, and add water as it drops below the bones. I would recommend placing a lid partially on the pot. This will help to secure some of the water content.
As you can see from the photos, the water turns into this milky beautiful stock. I would not recommend tasting just yet. This is the goodness that will be flavored with the tare (we will get to this later) when we build the ramen bowl.
STRAINING THE TONKOTSU BROTH
After 12 hours, remove the pot from the heat. Allow to cool just a touch. Remove the bones from the pot with a spider or slotted spoon and discard. Notice the bones are basically “clean.”
Strain the broth through a fine mesh strainer into a container. This was about six pounds of bones which yielded a fair amount of broth. You will want to use within about three days if storing in fridge. You can also freeze the broth for up to six months.
Notice that sort of “fatty” layer on the broth? This is what you want! This is good stuff!
CHASHU PORK BELLY
So, while the Tonkotsu broth is boiling away, we can take care of the Chashu Pork Belly. I highly, highly recommend preparing in a sous vide. As mentioned earlier, there are alternatives, I just think the tenderness, and flavor you will achieve by using the sous vide method will send your ramen over the top.
Place all of the marinade ingredients into a large freezer or storage bag. Roll and tie the piece of pork belly. Place pork belly inside the bag and move around the mixture just a bit to coat. Place bag in prepared sous vide for 10 hours at 170 degrees. Be sure to get as much of the air out of the bag as you can!
Remove the pork belly from the sous vide and allow to cool completely. Discard the bag and marinade. Slice pork belly into rounds. The amount will depend on how many bowls of ramen you are preparing. I like extra, so I managed three slices for my bowl. Store the remaining in fridge for up to three days, or freeze for later use.
TARE FOR TONKOTSU RAMEN WITH CHASHU PORK BELLY
Right? So what is the tare. The tare is what will actually season the broth. The concentrated flavor base. If you have ever ordered ramen, you will notice a number of “flavor” choices, so to speak, to chose from; Miso, Shoyu, and Shio are most common, but honestly you can take the tare where ever you want to go with it! See original recipe link above for more “over the top” options. Let your freak flag fly. Just make sure it tastes good!
I opted for a miso and shoyu blended based tare and just kicked it up a notch with Togarashi Hot Sauce.
Combine all of the ingredients for the tare in a saucepan. Simmer for five minutes.
RAMEN NOODLES, EGGS AND ADD-ONS!
Do NOT skimp on the ramen noodles. While at the Asian market, I picked up a high-quality package of ramen noodles. I was sure to find ones that included potassium carbonate or sodium carbonate in the ingredients. Get these. Use these!
Duck eggs were a fancy touch to my ramen bowl. The yolks are a beautiful orange color. Whatever eggs you choose, cook to medium. Using an egg cooker works really well. It allows you to pierce the top of the egg and you can set the cooker exactly to medium.
The spinach, nori, sliced shitake mushrooms, toasted sesame oil and sesame seeds are what I enjoy in my ramen bowl. If you like green onions or scallions, throw them in. Make it your own!
BUILDING THE TONKOTSU RAMEN WITH CHASHU PORK BELLY BOWL
WOW! I know, that was a lot, right? We are nearing the home stretch and just about ready to enjoy! Everything is going to come together rather quickly at this point!
Sear the pork belly rounds in a cast iron pan on both sides. While the pork belly is searing, cook the ramen noodles according to package directions.
If you made the Tonkotsu broth the day ahead, be sure to heat it up now. Grab your ramen bowls, add a few small spoonfuls of the tare to the bottom of the bowl. The tare from this recipe is enough for four bowls of ramen. Ladle in a half cup of the Tonkotsu broth. Stir to combine with the tare with chopsticks. Add in the ramen noodles. Pour in another cup or so of the broth.
Give it a little taste. You may want to add a touch more tare. Garnish with the egg, sliced shitake mushrooms, spinach leaves (I used these as a substitute for green onions/scallions), nori and a generous serving of the incredible Chashu pork belly. Sprinkle on a bit of the toasted sesame seeds and a drizzle of the toasted sesame oil.
I hope you enjoy this amazing Tonkotsu Ramen with Chashu Pork Belly as much as I did. Not only was it super fun to try making, but it was the most satisfying 12 minutes it took to devour!