We made this delicious tonkotsu-style ramen soup with several pounds of pork soup bones from one of our pasture-raised heritage pigs. We mostly followed this recipe from honestcooking.com. (We don’t know the folks behind that website, but their recipe came up in a web search and looked good. It tasted good too!)
What follows are some notes from the process of making tonkotsu broth. This is a great way to use pork bones for a special occasion, like a New Year’s Eve dinner.
Crack and Boil the Bones
Tonkotsu is a pork bone broth. When we make it again we will just use pork bones. The recipe linked above calls for adding chicken bones, which we did, but the chicken bones didn’t add anything and could have been better used to make chicken stock. We used regular pork soup bones, not split pig trotters. Next time we will also crack the pork bones with a hammer or perhaps saw them in half to expose more of the marrow. If you do this make sure to wash the bones afterward to wash off any bits of bone dust.
We boiled the bones for 24 hours in our largest pot. There doesn’t seem to be any downside to cooking them this long. We did bring the bones to a boil first and then discard that liquid to get rid of any coagulated blood. This makes the broth look creamier and less brown. Honestly for us it was a waste of time as we would not have minded browner broth.
Along with the bones we boiled 2 large leeks halved and sliced, about 10 chopped up green onions, 1 large onion peeled and quartered, about 15 garlic cloves peeled and smashed, a half finger-length of ginger sliced (not peeled), about a cup of mushroom stems and sliced mushrooms, and 3 large pinches of salt.
If making this again in winter time (when else do you want your stove on for 24 hours?) we would leave out the green onions which don’t grow in our garden in this season and add an extra onion and more mushrooms, or perhaps some dried mushrooms which sometimes have more flavor.
Ramen noodles of course. Cooked. Not the instant kind. If you don’t have real ramen, use thin wheat noodles and boil them in water with a handful of baking soda. Ramen noodles are alkaline wheat noodles, so cooking wheat noodles in baking soda water (which is alkaline) mimics some of the effect.
Sliced chashu pork belly.
Boiled eggs (marinading these in leftover chashu sauce really does make them even better). Our eggs come from our free range layer hens.
Fried garlic slices (and the oil you fried it in)
Vinegar (we used a Chinese-style vinegar made from rice and wheat bran)
We added sliced green onions but while they make for a pretty dish, they really didn’t add anything outstanding to the flavor. It’s probably best to add things that bring out or compliment the flavor of the tonkotsu broth.