Ryo's Ramen Talk No.2
Tonkotsu Soup (Pork Broth)
Tonkotsu Ramen originated in Kyushu, Japan, and has remained as a local favorite for many years. The majority of Japan has been dominated by the light and refreshing taste of fish and chicken based ramen, but things started to change when Tonkotsu Ramen was introduced to Tokyo in the early 1990’s. The thick, rich, and creamy Tonkotsu Ramen became extremely popular among the younger generations, which started a huge ramen trend. The Tonkotsu Ramen’s sensationally rich flavor, the koshi in the noodles, and the “kae dama” drove the Tonkotsu Ramen to be the most popular ramen in Japan by 2000. Tonkotsu Ramen has been famous ever since, and has even begun to appear in many Ramen Shops in the United States. Chicken broth and/or fish broth mixed with Pork broth, such fusion broth has become popular since then. Before we go any further, I would like to clarify that we are not trying to define what good Tonkotsu Ramen is. There are many ramen shops using commercially produced pork extract or artificially flavored pork stock, but these are legitimate attempts to make flavorful broths. After all, everyone is entitled to their own preferences. From here, I will simply explain the process Samurai Noodle takes in order to create our famous pork broth. So how do we do it? It’s rather quite simple. All we do is cook pork bones for day after day over a 80,000 BTU gas burner, until the bones are soft enough to crumble between our fingers!
So why does it require several days in order to create one pot of broth? This is because the thing that gives our Tonkotsu broth the distinctive rich pork flavor isn’t the white calcium on the bones as some might imagine. The secret to our flavor lies with the pork bone marrow! In order to extract flavor from the marrow, we need to first melt marrow. This typically takes 18 hours of cooking before the marrow begins to secreting its flavor, so it really does take several days before each pot is ready to serve. In othe words, pork bones do not produce any distinctive marrow flavor that real Hakata ramen needs for 18 hours. Yes, it takes hours. In order to get around this cooking process, many shops use concentrated pork extracts and make “porky water”, but Samurai Noodles uses nothing but natural pork products. We may only use pork bones, but it is not unusual to see famous ramen “ya tai” (ramen carts) in Japan using pig heads! Although Samurai Noodles doesn’t use pig heads, don’t be surprised if you see a skull floating in a Tonkotsu pot in Japan! After we use up the pork broth, there is always large amounts of thoroughly cooked marrow at the bottom of the pot. As you can imagine, cleaning these pots actually take a lot of work, but is a necessary sacrifice in order to present you with our prided Hakata Tonkotsu Ramen!