Jul 22 2009

Japanese Tonkotsu Ramen Recipe From Scratch

Published by at 1:32 pm under Food,Magazines

naruto_ramen_01Making 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
Green Onion       2
Yellow Onion      2 medium sized
Ginger            1 Teaspoon (Tube is ok)
Garlic            1 Teaspoon (Tube is ok)
Water             Enough to fill pot

All purpose flour or medium strength flour     500 g
Powdered Kansui (alkaline salts – Google this for details)  5 to 5.5 g
Water    200 cc
Potato or Corn starch    For flouring

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.

Char Siu
Side Pork    500g
Soy Sauce    50 cc
Mirin    50cc
Sugar    1 tablespoon
Water    500 cc

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.)

ramen_magazine1 最新ラーメンの本 Vol.1 (2010) 関西版 (CARTOP MOOK)

Here’s a review on 2 Japanese Ra-men Books for Professionals.


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!

32 responses so far

32 Responses to “Japanese Tonkotsu Ramen Recipe From Scratch”

  1. stationmasteron 22 Jul 2009 at 1:39 pm

    Wow, that looks really good. I must say, I have to wonder if Koume’s family restaurant (Taisho Yakyuu Musume) is a ramen-ya, since every morning she is sawing bones before going to school…or is there some other dish that requires sawing bones?

  2. onigirinekoon 22 Jul 2009 at 1:46 pm

    LOL I can only think of stock making in relation to sawing bones. =)

  3. GENERICon 31 Jul 2009 at 5:03 pm

    with inspiration and determination, one day all of us hardcore ramen foodies will be able to recreate something very special in our own kitchens …

    thanks Onigirineko for your (re)posting this =^..^= !!

    anyone interested in sharing recipes (or ?) about RAMEN, feel free to contact me !

    peace people

  4. Johnny Jr. IIIon 03 Aug 2009 at 11:00 pm

    You are my idol!

  5. onigirinekoon 09 Aug 2009 at 11:01 am

    I’ve been adding Napa Cabbage to the stock and it’s great!!

  6. YooiYon 05 Jan 2010 at 2:37 am

    Thanks for the recipe! I did a little fusing of different recipe’s but the stock is that as yours. Didn’t turn out exactly as I wanted it but its tasty no doubt. GOOD STUFF!!!


  7. onigirinekoon 12 Jan 2010 at 1:04 am

    when do you add the onions/garlic/ginger to the stock?

  8. onigirinekoon 12 Jan 2010 at 1:04 am

    I add them during Step #6.

    I’m currently resear4ching a dashi + chicken ramen stock. The flavors are lighter, but the balance is much more tricky. ^^;;;

  9. onigirinekoon 12 Jan 2010 at 1:04 am

    thanks for the reply!

    just another question, so from what i understand is that you add the onion etc during step 6, you simmer for several hours until the marrow dissolves, and then you simmer again for 6 hours? so a total of 12 hours?

  10. onigirinekoon 12 Jan 2010 at 1:05 am

    Correct. It took me 16 hours because I left it at a bare simmer overnight. I’ve been told that we can shorten the whole process using a pressure cooker, but I haven’t tried it that way yet. My experience with pressure cookers is that the favors tends to dull and you need to add something at the end to brighten them back up a little.

    The end result of this stock is a thick and rich tasting milky stock. Just as you see it in Step #20. It’s great! Rich and unctuous, it’s perfect for a hearty meal. But if you ever want it a bit lighter, you can always thin it out a little with a light chicken broth.

    There’s a ramen shop that opened up recently about an hour’s drive from me. They specialize in tonkotsu style ramen and they’re crazy busy! The soup is rich like this recipe. They never have time to talk, but I can see 6 huge vats of bone stock boiling away in their tiny kitchen.

  11. onigirinekoon 12 Jan 2010 at 1:05 am

    thanks for letting me pick your brain. You really know what you’re talking about!

    I havent had good ramen since i lived in Japan, so i am very eager to try this recipe out.

  12. Lanion 15 Feb 2010 at 3:04 am

    Can I make this recipe using a slow cooker/Crockpot on low? Thanks for any advice.

  13. onigirinekoon 15 Feb 2010 at 11:25 am

    I’m not sure about using a slow cooker or crockpot for this recipe. I wouldn’t know how long to cook it for to get the same consistency. But if you try it please let me know how it turns out! =)

    If you’re looking for a quicker version of this recipe I would try the pressure cooker. It seems to work quite well.

  14. nickygeeon 11 Mar 2010 at 12:21 pm

    I found the Koon Shun brand liquid. How much of it should I use per 200g water if substituting for kansui powder? Thanks for the recipe. Am excited about making my own ramen from scratch!

  15. nickygeeon 11 Mar 2010 at 12:23 pm

    correction: I meant 200cc of water.

  16. onigirinekoon 11 Mar 2010 at 2:26 pm

    I used the old approximation of 1 g = 1 ml = 1 cc

    So I used 5 cc of the liquid for 200 cc of water.

  17. onigirinekoon 11 Mar 2010 at 2:33 pm

    The noodles turned out ok, but I lacked the skill to make really good noodles right now. =) I’ll train harder once I have some more time. Meanwhile, I found good noodles in chinatown that helps. =) Good luck!

  18. NoodleSoupon 01 Apr 2010 at 9:06 am

    Hi –
    Thanks for translating the recipe! I am looking to make this recipe. However, a few questions –
    it doesn’t seem to specify how much water to use or add for the soup. I have a huge 12 quart pot..should I just fill it? How much to add if there is too little water. .I assume that all of this affects the consistency and flavor of the soup.
    Just to clarfiy – it also looks to me like:
    1) Simmer for 2 hours until the marrow dissolves
    2) Medium boil for until scum stops forming (four hours?)
    3) Simmer for 6 more hours. (I just saw video of people cooking it for 60 hours!!)


  19. onigirinekoon 01 Apr 2010 at 10:56 am

    I only used enough water to slightly cover the bones. And I kept refilling the water until it barely covered the bones during cooking.

    The bone marrow takes about the full time to completely dissappear. After 6 hours it shrinks a lot but it’s not completely gone until the end of the cooking. I apologize for the confusion. Basically, after the bones are opened and the marrow is exposed, I cook the bones at a low boil until the marrow completely dissapears.
    At 6-8 hrs into the process I added the aromatics, turned down the heat to a simmer and went to sleep. The next morning the bones were completely empty and the stock looked rich and creamy just like the photo. The aromatics were completely optional and entirely up to personal taste.
    Hope that helps. I’ll find a weekend to make another batch soon to find out exactly when the marrow really cooks away. (instead of while I sleep.) ^^;; I’ll also try the perssure cooker and see what happens.

  20. Noodle Soupon 04 Apr 2010 at 11:40 am

    So i tried the recipe this weekend. I cooked the soup for 30 hours. At times a simmer, mostly at a low or brisk boil. The soup ended up more of a light brown color than a milky color. It sat overnight too, and there was a lot of oil on top. I know that the fat/oil is supposed to be suspended in the soup which gives it the flavor, but it was hard not to skim some of it off. (the soup was this color even before I removed the excess fat)
    the main issue was that the bones weren’t completely empty. I wonder what I did wrong?

  21. onigirinekoon 04 Apr 2010 at 12:00 pm

    30 hours!! O_O
    How did the stock taste?

    I’m not sure you neccessarily did anything wrong per se. There is a lot of fat that comes out of the stock, and I never removed all of it either. The color is brownish, but I wonder how brown yours was. Did you preboil the bones and wash them before cutting them open and long boiling them? Perhaps it was the amount of blood still on the bones? Was there a lot of scum on the top of the soup?

    The most important part is, of course, when you assemble the ramen broth, how does it taste? Do you get that rich stock taste in the soup? (After adjusting for seasoning.)

  22. Noodle Soupon 10 Apr 2010 at 5:11 am

    The color was darker brown – almost a french onion soup color – not a light brown or even milky color. I should have taken a picture. I did preboil and wash. There wasn’t too much scum to scoop off.
    the flavor was okay, but not worth the 30 hours!

  23. onigirinekoon 12 Apr 2010 at 12:12 am

    Sorry! I really have no absolutely no idea what happened to your stock. I’ve got the ingredients to try again later this week. This time I’m trying a pressure cooker and seeing how much time it will take. I’m guessing around 1 hour! I’ll let you know asap.

    I spoke with a ramen shop this past weekend and they say they only cook their stock for 12 hours. I can imagine that 30 hours might possibly overcook the flavor right out of the stock, much like overcooking a delicate fish stock.

  24. yowinon 19 May 2010 at 10:47 pm

    If use the pressure cooker how to skim the scum off or when the scum stop formed in pot then change into pressure cooker to boil continually.

  25. Jessicaon 31 May 2010 at 6:48 pm

    I did it!!!yay!it is AWESOME!everyone was impressed!!!

  26. onigirinekoon 08 Jun 2010 at 1:12 am

    Grats!! I’ve still got to work on the pressure cooker version, but thanks for letting us know how yours went. =)

  27. […] only bowl of ramen you’ve had is Maruchan…I’m sorry. Please try to have a bowl of tonkotsu ramen at your nearest Japanese restaurant, or failing that, get some Chuka Zanmai and follow the […]

  28. Shikkion 27 Nov 2010 at 8:03 am

    I tried with both pressure cooker and the normal way. Pressure cooker can be use, although it would be faaaaaaaaaaaaaaar more inferior than normal cooking. Not to mention it still took me 6 hours with the pressure cooker. ^_^; Maybe you could combine both? Something like cook until the marrow and gelatin is out of the bone, but still chunky then take out the bone and pressure it for another hour or so? I haven’t actually tried this though, but I imagine it would be much faster than the 12 hours cooking I done through the normal way, and taste much better than with pressure cooking alone…

    The noodle recipe I think is off though… This is recipe for Udon noodle… Ramen noodle calls for 1 egg every 3/4 cup of flour and a tablespoon of water and sprinkle of salt…

    Anyway, thank you very very much for posting this recipe!

  29. Doctor Fedoraon 01 Jan 2011 at 6:12 pm

    That’s definitely a ramen noodle recipe — udon is just high-gluten flour and salt, with just enough water to bind it. Sounds awesome overall, too!

  30. Zelma Petrinoon 07 Jul 2011 at 7:09 am

    My own only complaint is that there were so many bones that used the space in the particular crockpot we were left with very little broth. My husband was thinking we’re able to just make the soup with the boullion cubes water the actual onion and ginger and get comparable result. I just am unclear how much flavor we actually got through the beef bones. Zelma Petrino

  31. Michelleon 29 Sep 2011 at 7:31 pm

    I tried making this and it came out French onion soup color also instead of milky white. I believe it’s because I got some other bones mixed into the pack besides the pork leg bones.

    Note from norecipes.com on his tonkotsu ramen recipe: “1.To get the creamy white soup it’s important that you use pork leg bones and the trotters. The white color comes from the marrow and collagen in these parts. Using other types of pork bones such as ribs or neck bones will not give your soup the richness or color.”

  32. Ivanon 07 Jan 2012 at 2:44 am

    I did once, and it works, the stock seems to be rather milky in color, but at this point the taste wasn’t really pungent, or tasteless,. I have tried a ramen shop at fremantle market in perth AU., that is the best I have ever had when it comes to soup. that isn’t salty, just right. I wonder how they make it.

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