How to Make Tonkotsu Ramen
Tonkotsu (pork bone) ramen is a labour of love. It can take 3 or 4 days to make – although most of that is just watching a pot boil – and you might wonder why anyone would ever go to the effort.
It is actually easier than it looks, although the first time you try to do it it will probably exhaust you completely.
As one of the four main styles of ramen (shio, shoyu, miso and tonkotsu) it’s important to know how it’s made, even if you never attempt it yourself.
This light style of tonkotsu is the style I prefer, although you can reduce the soup base further, add chopped fat to it etc. if you prefer the thicker, fattier versions of tonkotsu that you might have tried.
This recipe is for a shio gyokai style tonkotsu, meaning that it is salt-based and contains seafood, which is why it is very light in colour.
4 kg pork bones
8 kg water
300 g rendered pork lard
200 g vegetable oil
70 g spring onion
30 g Garlic
1 tbsp bonito powder (see Method)
10 g dried scallop
10 g dried fish maw
10 g dried sardines, cleaned
2 pieces rausu kombu
750 ml water
approx. 100 g salt
1 tsp rice vinegar
kikurage – black wood ear fungus (soaked in hot water and sliced)
spring onion, finely sliced
menma – braised bamboo shoots
nori, cut into squares
bonito powder (see Method)
Weigh the bones and cover with cold water. Refrigerate overnight to extract the blood from the bones and marrow. Discard the soaking water and then add twice the weight of the bones of fresh cold water. Measure the distance from the top of the water to the top of the pot.
Bring to a simmer, using a fine mesh to skim the grey scum rising to the surface of the water, stirring occasionally. Continue until the scum rising to the top is white rather than grey. This will take about 2 hours.
Cover the pot and boil for a further 6 hours (the water should be active and bubbling but the heat does not necessarily have to be high), topping up the water to the starting level and stirring every half hour. Remove the lid and reduce the liquid for about 4 hours until you reach the consistency you want. The more you reduce the liquid, the thicker and stronger the soup base will be.
Strain the soup and cool rapidly by stirring in a bath of iced water until it is room temperature. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
To make the tare, add the dried seafood, kombu and cold water to a non-reactive container and refrigerate overnight. Transfer to a saucepan and heat over very low heat for about 1 hour until just warm to the touch. Remove the seafood and measure the volume of dashi produced. Add salt in the ratio of 1:5 (i.e. 100 g salt for 500 g dashi) and stir over heat until the salt is fully dissolved. Add the vinegar and set aside.
To make the bonito powder, blend 1 cup of dried bonito flakes to a fine powder. Combine all the ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Allow to cool and strain.
To assemble the ramen, follow the instructions in the video below.
Top Tips for Tonkotsu Ramen
- There is a lot of liquid to manage here so it’s worth having two large pots the same size, and also clearing enough space in your fridge to fit one of them before you even start.
- If you prefer a thicker tonkotsu you can reduce the soup further, or thicken it with the addition of simmered backfat or use a stick blender to emulsify in some additional bonito powder.
- This recipe is a basic recipe. You can of course add vegetables, chicken and other ingredients to the soup base if you prefer.
Been awaiting this one a long time, so great you did it, thanks.
Do you have any recommendations for good online sources for kombu and other Japanese ingredients during this period of lock down? It is obviously a lot harder to get to my local shops these days.
When you say salt, do you mean sea salt? 150 g sounds insane xD hug from Portugal. -Jay
Firstly, love your work – I am always excited to see new content of yours come out. I have eagerly been waiting for your tonkotsu video and loved it.
My question to you is, do you have any advice on a reliable online grocer for Asian ingredients here in Australia? I live in remote North Queensland and have no chance getting most of the ingredients for this dish in my town. Back when I lived in Brisbane it wasn’t a problem but up here it is a little more difficult.
Any help would be great, keep the content coming!
Hello Adam, how long can your store the soup base in the fridge?
If I would make this I would want to make as much as possible.
Hi Adam! I’m a long time ramen (especially Ichiran’s tonkotsu) lover, and have spent the last quarantine month sourcing my ingredients online. They’ve JUST arrived and I am starting prep on some of the items now.
However, I’ve only just realised….I don’t know how much I’m making! How many bowls of ramen would you say your 4kg of pork bones and your tare results in?
This yields around 5L of stock, which will make 10-15 bowls depending how big you make them. The tare and oil make more than you need but everything freezes very well.
Hi Adam, how big is the pot that you’re using for this recipe?
Hi Adam. Hope you and you’re family are doing well during iso. I love a thick broth and your tip of “thicken it with the addition of simmered backfat”. Are you referring to adding the rendered fat or throwing in the fat during the broth making process. Thankyou for your time and clarification… big fan of the destination flavour series.
I live in remote North Queensland and would love to make all of your receipes however sourcing ingredients is a real issue for me out here. Any advice on where to order these ingredients online?
Love your work,
Hi Adam! Always a pleasure to experience your in depth guidance towards various type of food.
I have a question regarding the preservation of the stock, tare, and oil.
1) I’d assume the stock is fine to be left inside the fridge, but how long will it last approximately? or is it better to store it in the freezer?
2) Same thing with the tare and oil, do I just store them in the fridge or the freezer, and how long would they last?
3) Lastly, Is it necessary to reheat the tare and oil if you stored them in the fridge? if so, ideally how would it be done? Same thing if its being frozen in the freezer, do I need to thaw it out first or just heat them in a pot?
PS. Love your work,
First of thanks for taking your time creating content for us home cooks perfecting our cooking at home, and I’m sure everyone can agree that all those small tips and tricks from your videos really helped us take our cooking skills to the next level.
I was wondering where could I find the ladles with the specific volumes that you used in the video? I tried finding for them online but nothing seem to match the ones you used. It would be great if you could share with us the brand/manufacturer that produces those ladles.
Thank you in advance!
Ive watched your video 20x, how many mL of the soup base (you said couple of laddles) of 120mL (x3) so like 360mL, 10mL for oil (1x), 20mL for tare (1x) for a bowl of ramen?
Love the videos!
finally a most awaited video on YOUR take on tonkotsu ramen.
a few queries though…
how much water (grams/ml) should i put in the tare?
and how much kombu (grams) ?
the kombu sheets i have on hand are big. i am not quite how much of it should be used.
thanks kindly for your contents. they are especially a godsend in these times.
What is that little stove-top grill that you use to grill your chashu please?
I’ve watched the very depicted video (and thank you for that), but I couldn’t figure out two important things:
1) What is the order of assembly between the liquids? (broth, oil, tare)?
2) What are the quantities for each liquid per bowl?
I live in the Netherlands. My son loves this kind of food ander after he told me he’s making Tonkotsu Ramen, I could’nt help myself and made it for myself! The white, cloudy broth was perfect. Also the
chashu ( i used pork belly ). The aromatic oil… no problem. And yes, the eggs were so good.
But……. the Tare was to salt!!! 5 to 1…., are you sure?! That amount of salt did messed up my Tonkotsu Ramen! Seawater contains about 34,5 gr. salt in 1 ltr. water!
No man overboard, I made a lot of the Tonkotsu broth ( put some of it in my freezer; also a part of my chashu ). So, I wil make it again! 😉
Hey Adam, Japanese chefs are very exacting when they maintain the water level with a ruler. European chefs worry less about the bone to water ratio. Couldn’t you just start with more water and top-up less?
Will you be doing a video on how to make hand pulled noodles?
Hi Adam, I would like to thank you so much for your videos and recipes. I cannot tell you how much I love your scientific approach to cooking. One simple question please: all the youtube videos on ramen, where can I find the measurements? I see here that you have only 1 recipe, where can I find the others? In one of your book?
Thanks in advance, Francesco.
awesome recipe and video. Can you tell me how much soup do you use per bowl? On video it looks like you added 120ml of soup
Just like Sylvia I feel like the salt content can not be right for the tare. I spent a whole day making the tonkotsu soup broth and I threw it all away after adding the tare. It was so salty that it ruined my soup and evening. Not sure how it’s possible that not everyone has this problem following this recipe.
First of all a big thanks from Germany for all your recepies. They are great.
But I do have a question because of the bones in the broth. When the extraction process is over and you start to reduce the broth do you take the bones out then or do you keep them still in til you are finished?
All the best
When/what recipes for ramen broth involve roasting the bones and meat prior to starting the broth?
Interesting technique. What’s the difference in end result between this method and the method where you first boil the bones and clean out the black/brown bits off the bone in a sink before going for another round of boil?
Hi Adam, great video as always. What’s the difference in end result between this method and the method where you first boil the bones and clean out the black/brown bits off the bone in a sink before going for another round of boil?
Hello Adam, appreciate the dedication and great quality of content! How much Broth, tare and oil are in each bowl of ramen? (Assume in ml?) Thanks in advance!
just like to ask how many grams of noodles is usually used in a bowl of ramen.
Adam this recipe it pretty awesome. Any suggestions on how to make this spicy?