TONKOTSU RAMEN SERVES 8
The opposite of instant ramen, tonkotsu, this old-school milky pork bone–style broth takes some work and quite a lot of time. But don’t let that scare you away—it is well worth the effort. The collagen-rich broth really needs to cook for a good 12 hours to properly extract the milkiness of the bones, but I’ve streamlined the recipe as much as possible, simplifying it to a good broth with roasted pork belly (chashu), a soft-boiled egg, and an optional drizzle of black garlic oil (mayu). As for the ramen, I do as most chefs do, and buy my noodles.
INGREDIENTS: FOR THE RAMEN BROTH:
2 pigs’ feet, cut crosswise into 1-inch-thick disks
2 pounds chicken backs and carcasses, skin and excess fat removed
2 pounds pork leg bones, quartered in order to fit into the stockpot
1 large onion, skin on, coarsely chopped
12 garlic cloves, skin on
1 3-inch knob fresh ginger, coarsely chopped
2 whole leeks (white and light green parts), coarsely chopped
2 bunches scallions, white parts only (reserve green parts for garnish)
6 dried shiitake mushrooms
Kosher salt and freshly ground white pepper, to taste
FOR THE PORK BELLY (CHASHU):
½ cup soy sauce
1 cup mirin
1 cup sake
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons miso paste
6 scallions (green and white parts), coarsely chopped
6 garlic cloves
1 2-inch knob fresh ginger, coarsely sliced
1 shallot, skin on, halved
2 pounds boneless pork belly, skin on, boned, rolled, and tied (your butcher will do this)
4 large eggs
1 ½ pounds ramen noodles
Reserved scallion greens, thinly sliced
Dried nori, cut into ¼-inch-wide strips (optional)
Fresh enoki mushrooms (optional)
Mayu (black garlic oil; optional)
MAKE THE BROTH: Put the pigs’ feet, chicken, and pork bones in a large stockpot and add cold water to cover. Bring to a boil over high heat, then continue cooking at low heat. Skim off any scum that appears during the first 30 minutes. (Use moist paper towels to wipe any scum from around the rim of the pot.)
Add the onion, garlic, ginger, leeks, scallion whites, and shiitakes and bring back to a boil. Reduce the heat so the stock is barely at a simmer, and cover the pot. Simmer for at least 4 hours, but preferably 10 to 12 hours, topping up with more water when necessary to keep the ingredients covered.
Strain the broth through a fine-mesh strainer into a clean pot, and discard the solids. (You can skim the liquid fat from the top at this time, but it’s better to chill the stock overnight and discard the solidified fat afterward.) Salt and pepper the broth to your liking. If not chilling the broth overnight, set it aside while you make the pork belly.
COOK THE PORK BELLY: Preheat the oven to 275°F. Combine the soy sauce, mirin, sake, sugar, miso, scallions, garlic, ginger, and shallot with 1 cup of water in a medium ovenproof saucepan, and bring to a boil over high heat. Add the pork belly and cover the pan loosely, with the lid left slightly ajar. Transfer the saucepan to the oven and cook, turning the pork occasionally in the liquid, for
3 to 4 hours, until the pork is completely tender. Let the pork cool completely in its cooking liquid.
SERVE THE RAMEN: While the pork belly is cooling, soft-boil the eggs: Bring a small saucepan of water to a boil, carefully slip in the eggs, and cook for exactly 7 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and instantly cool them under cold running water to stop the cooking. When they are cool enough to handle, carefully peel the eggs—they will be soft but will hold their shape. Set aside.
Lift out the cooked pork belly, reserving the liquid in the pot, and cut it into ¼-inch-thick slices. Cover and set aside. Submerge the peeled eggs gently in the cooled pork cooking liquid and let them soak for 2 to 3 hours.
When you are ready to serve the ramen, bring the reserved broth to a boil.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook the ramen noodles according to the package directions.
For each diner, put a serving of noodles in the bottom of a large soup bowl and top it with the hot broth. Slice each egg in half (carefully, as the yolk will be soft). Lay 2 slices of pork belly and an egg half on top of the ramen, and sprinkle liberally with sliced scallion greens. If you like, add some nori strips and enoki mushrooms. Serve at once, with mayu if desired.