Jul 22 2009
Making your own soup, noodles, and char siu, this recipe is either for the clinically insane, or the seriously hardcore foodie who misses good Japanese ramen. I claim to be one of the latter, but I feel a little like one of the former. As I have been obsessed recently with hunting down ramen.
The image to the left is from Naruto. And although ramen often makes an appearance in anime and manga, and is sometimes featured in them, this article doesn’t really have anything to do with either anime or manga. It’s just my craziness and I had to get it out of my system in the form of a blog post. ♥
Actually, this recipe isn’t very difficult, but it IS time consuming. I found this recipe on Cookpad.com. (Full credit should be given to the author of this recipe. Images are also from Cookpad. Thank you!) Here’s the English translation (with my added notes):
Notes: Unless you only have a small pot, I would double, triple, or quadruple this recipe because the stock freezes well and you’ll want to maximize on the results for the amount of time you spend on this recipe. The hardest part of the stock recipe, for me, was finding pork hock bones. But most butchers will sell pock hocks, so I found it easier to simply buy the pork hocks and ask the butcher to trim the meat off which I used for crispy roast pork (another story).
Sometimes you might have seen the word “kotteri” (コッテリ) on a menu describing ramen. There isn’t a specific “kotteri ramen” recipe. “Kotteri”, often refers to the soup, just means an extra rich ramen. So this recipe would qualify as “kotteri”, but others do too. The extra boost of collagen coming from pork knuckles, chicken feet, chicken wings, etc. add to the unctuousness of the soup.
Warning: Kids should not cook without parent supervison. Always use caution when cooking.
Ingredients (Serves 5)
Pork hock bones 5
Notes: Okay, I found the equivalent of Kansui Powder, in Chinese shops it’s a clear liquid. Under a popular Koon Chun brand, it comes in a clear glass bottle labeled “potassium carbonate & sodium bi-carbonate solution” and the UPC is 0-20717-80230-8. Interestingly, this is the same key ingredient in Chinese hand-pulled noodle recipes.
Notes: I didn’t try this char siu part of the recipe. Although it sounds ok, I literally live 3 minutes away from a fantastic Chinese BBQ place so I just pick up my char siu from there. Just remember, the red color does come from food coloring. The marinade base described above is a little different than the char siu recipes I know of. I may try to tackle homemade char siu at some later date, but not at this time. If you want an easy char siu marinade, try Lee Kum Kee’s Chinese BBQ Sauce. I did however, make the sauce as it is used later in the soup base.
Step 1: Have the butcher separate the pork hock bones.
Step 2: Rinse well in running water to wash off blood. Boil in large pot for 15 minutes. You want to barely cover the bones with water.
Step 3: Skim off as much scum as possible as it forms.
Step 4: Drain in colander and use a brush to remove any bloody meat.
Step 5: Use a saw and saw halfway down the center of the bones. Then use hammer to break bone.
Note: I didn’t have to break the bones since my butcher’s pork hocks already had the marrow exposed.
Step 6: The bones will be filled with marrow. Simmer for several hours until the marrow dissolves out from the bones.
Step 7: Scum will form at the start. Carefully skim the scum off. On mid flame, maintain a low boil.
Step 8: After scum has stopped forming, simmer for 6 hours or more. Add more water if the water level drops.
Step 9: Making the noodles. After measuring out the ingredients, mix the flour and kansui together, then add the water. It may feel as if the amount of water is insufficient. This is normal.
Step 10: Mix in bowl until a mealy consistency is achieved.
Step 11: The dough will be very stiff. Use you body weight to form the dough into a ball.
Step 12: Transfer to kneading surface and knead. Knead vigorously for 10 minutes. It is ok if the dough cracks or does not knead together well.
Step 13: Form into ball, cover with plastic wrap and allow to rest in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. Make sure that the dough does not dry out.
Step 14: While the dough rests, prepare the char siu. Brown the meat in a pan and then simmer in a pot for 2 hours in a sauce made from the remaining ingredients. Allow to cool in the pot.
Step 15: After the dough has rested, roll the dough out with a rolling pin to a thickness of 5 mm and then insert into pasta machine. Start out with the highest thickness and then continue on the lower settings until the desired thickness is achieved.
Step 16: If a pasta machine is not used, roll out the dough to the desired thickness with the rolling pin. Take into account that the noodles will expand 1.3 times when boiled.
Step 17: The dough will not be that sticky, so a small amount of flour or potato (or corn) starch is sufficient for flouring. (Note that the recipe only shows the noodles being cut by a pasta machine and does not mention hand cutting)
Step 18: A wooden box is best for storing the noodles, but if one is not available, use a metal tray lined with wax paper (to prevent sticking) and store in the refrigerator.
Step 19: 2 hours after the pork bones have started simmering, the soup should become progressively white and cloudy. If tasted at this stage, the soup will not taste good since it will still have a raw flavor.
Step 20: After the soup has simmered for 6 hours, the soup should look like this. The inside of the bones should now be empty and the soup should have a rich smell just like a ramen place.
Notes: That’s his comment, not mine. But the stock is rich. It exactly like the picture, it’s not a clear stock at all. Just remember that it won’t have much taste right now because there’s no salt. But don’t adjust the seasoning until the end of the recipe because you’re adding soy sauce to the ramen base.
Step 21: The char siu should be a nice amber color. Slice with care since it will be very tender and tend to fall apart.
Step 22: Any leftovers can be eaten with beer.
Notes: Again, his comment, not mine. LOL But I will add that if you ever have trouble slicing soft pork, chill the whole piece in the refrigerator until cold, and it makes slicing easier. Reheating is easy, in either the microwave or oven, even stove top.
Step 23: It’s time to put everything together. Since boiling time can differ, boil the noodles to each person’s preference. For people who like curly noodles, firmly squeeze the noodles until the desired effect is achieved.
Step 24: Warm the bowl, and add the char siu sauce and salt for flavor. Use sparingly at first and then add more if desired.
Step 25: I prefer to boil the noodles for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes. Your rich and hearty tonkotsu ramen is complete.
Okay, because final assembly occurred, I prepared some soy sauce marinated eggs the night before.
Here’s what I did:
12 eggs in shells
Diced pork hock meat (leftovers from recipe above) 1 lb
3 green onions cut into 1 inch pieces
1 thumb sized piece of ginger sliced
2 large cloves of garlic sliced
1/2 cup soy sauce
2 Tablespoons cooking wine/sake/sherry
2 Tablespoons Sugar
1/2 cup water
Step 1: Bring a pot of water to a rolling boil. (Using a small thumb tack, I prick a pin hole in the base (fat end) of every egg, but that’s not necessary.) The the water is at a full boil, I put the eggs in. The water should cover the eggs. Wait for the water to come back to a full boil, and time for 7 minutes. (9 minutes will give you a fully hard boiled egg. 7 minutes is a very soft boiled egg.) Drain the pot and eggs and plunge the eggs in ice water to stop cooking. This also makes the shells a bit easier to peel.
Step 2: In a small pot, saute pork, garlic, onions, and ginger until slightly browned. Add soy sauce, cooking alcohol, sugar, water and simmer for 10 minutes. Until pork is cooked through and flavors meld. Remove from stove. Remove pork to eat separately. Pour everything else into a bowl large enough to hold marinade and eggs.
Step 3: Carefully, peel the eggs, and place in marinade. Try to mae sure the marinade covers all of the eggs. If not, try transferring the sauce into a large ZipLock bag, and place the eggs in the bag and seal. Place the bag in a bowl, and put everything in the refrigerator overnight. Or at least for a few hours.
Soy sauce eggs ready!
I usually cut them in half before adding them to the ramen bowl. You can reheat the eggs quickly in the stock before you assemble the ramen.
Overall, was the experience worth it? Yes. It definitely was. I LOVE the stock. My noodle skills need a LOT of practice, but I love making them. It’s kind of relaxing. If you have a good noodle source in the area, by all means, buy them. But I enjoy making noodles just for the sake of making them. (My grandmother taught me how to make egg noodles a long time ago, and my love for the process outweights my not-so-perfect results.)
In the future, I’ll be exploring different types of ramen soup bases, and perhaps venture into more noodles… we’ll see. ^_^
(Update 2/23/2010: I recently found a Japanese magazine series called Book of Ramen (最新ラーメンの本). There are no recipes in this mook, it’s purely for ramen fans. Full of eye-candy, gorgeous bowls of ramen, where you can get them, and what makes them special. You can check out the Amazon.co.jp link for a view inside the magazine.)
Can you believe that the picture just above this line is a bowl of ramen made entirely out of paper??! You can even make your own with the free designs on this Papercraft website. Check it out!