This tonkatsu ramen recipe will get you restaurant quality results!
The sign of a good tonkatsu ramen is a properly prepared, creamy tonkotsu broth and lots of delicious chashu pork on top. There are restaurants that cheat in one or both of these areas but when you make tonkatsu ramen at home, you can ensure that only the best goes in those serving bowls.
What is tonkotsu ramen?
In my personal opinion, there’s ramen and then there’s tonkotsu ramen: the king of ramens! Where other ramens can be whipped up in a very short time, tonkotsu ramen needs special pork broth that takes about 13 hours to make. You’ll find my recipe for that here.
Don’t let that scare you off making tonkotsu ramen though. The broth is really easy to make and most of the time you won’t need to do anything other than let your broth boil.
Then there is the specially cooked chashu pork shoulder that is thinly sliced and served on top of the ramen noodles and broth. This is also simple to make. My recipe follows.
Does it matter which type of ramen noodles I use?
Yes! When cooking tonkotsu ramen, be sure to go for the best you can find. Often when I prepare other ramens, I just use instant ramen noodles.
With tonkotsu ramen, however I always use fresh or excellent quality dried ramen noodles. When you put this much time into making a noodle soup, you want the best.
What is chashu pork?
This is a tasty and sometimes crispy pork that tastes amazing on top of tonkatsu ramen and other ramens.
It can be made in a dutch oven or if you have an Instant Pot or similar, you could save yourself a few hours by pressure cooking the meat on high for 90 minutes.
It can be prepared using pork belly or pork shoulder. This time around I used pork belly but the photo below shows a 2kg (4 lbs) pork shoulder being marinated.
What is in the chashu pork marinade?
It’s really easy to make! I don’t actually use just one recipe though I do plan on writing one soon so that you have a printable recipe to go by. In this recipe I used…
400ml (1 1/2 cups) cooking sake
400ml (1 1/2 cups) marin
250ml (1 cup) light soy sauce
10 cloves garlic, smashed
1 x 5cm (2 inch) ginger (Sliced and smashed)
4 shallots, peeled and sliced in half
6 spring onions (scallions), roughly chopped
200g (1 cup) sugar
All you need to do is whisk all these ingredients together and marinate the pork. I prefer to leave it overnight but you could just get cooking. The marinade is also the cooking liquid.
How do you cook the chashu pork for tonkotsu ramen?
I prefer to cook it in a pressure cooker. Place the rolled pork belly or shoulder in an Instant Pot or similar and pour the marinade over the top. It will not cover the meat (see the photo below). Then pressure cook on high for 90 minutes and your rolled pork shoulder or belly will be perfect for slicing.
I recommend placing the cooked pork in the fridge to cool as it makes slicing easier.
What if I don’t have a pressure cooker?
No problem! Place the meat and marinade in a dutch oven. Set your oven temperature to 135c/275f. Cover the pan so that it is slightly ajar and place it in the oven for 4 to 5 hour or until the meat is tender.
What about that egg?
Egg is something I don’t like to add to my tonkotsu ramen but it is a very popular addition. How long you boil the egg is up to you.
I find that 6 minutes is perfect with a very soft yolk. Cook it for 7 to 8 minutes for a harder yolk, depending on your personal preference.
What other things can be added to a tonkotsu ramen?
Be sure to make this a well rounded and healthy meal. You can add bok choy, bean sprouts, mushrooms, spring onions (scallions) or whatever you think sounds good.
Sometimes I also like to fry up some thinly sliced garlic and fry it in sesame oil until tender and lightly browned. If you like garlic, you will love the fried garlic spooned over the top.
How much tonkotsu broth is needed for each serving?
I generally add 500ml (2 cups) boiling hot tonkotsu broth to each bowl. You could of course add more or less.
This is really the same for all of the ingredients. The noodles, veggies, meat… Add as many or as little as you like.
Are there any cheats to make the cooking process quicker?
Of course! But I don’t recommend doing this when making authentic tonkotsu ramen. This is a labour of love. If you like cooking, you’re going to have fun assembling all the prepared ingredients.
If you don’t like cooking, you might like to go for a quick and easy ramen like my quick and easy curry ramen here.
All of the topping shown in the photos are optional so you don’t have to make the chashu pork but I hope you do!
How do you make the tonkotsu broth?
Most restaurants will use a few tonkotsu stock cubes. In my opinion, this is not tonkotsu ramen. If you want the real thing, you’re going to have to make the stock yourself.
Making the broth brings back memories of living in San Francisco where hot bone broth was always on offer. Huge pots of tonkotsu broth would be on the boil at all times and the tonkotsu ramen was always amazing!
I have a recipe for that too and you will find it here. You are going to need to put aside a good 14 hours to make it though. I warned you.
Why is homemade tonkotsu broth so much better?
There are many reasons for this. It is a really simple stock as far as ingredients are concerned. Nothing more than you would put any any stock really.
It becomes spectacular during the cooking process. The bones are first boiled and then thoroughly cleaned. Then they are covered with water and a few aromatic ingredients to boil for 12 hours. That’s right… the broth is boiled not simmered. After 12 hours of boiling, there is very little left of the bones as all of their goodness has literally oozed into the broth.
Is tonkotsu ramen really worth all the fuss?
You bet! Whoever came up with the idea of boiling pork bones for 12 hours was a genius! There is a reason why tonkotsu ramen is the only thing served at many restaurants. You need to specialise in it because it’s so fussy to make!
The thing is… anything a good tankotsu ramen chef can make can also be prepared at home with equally good results. Put in the effort and enjoy the rewards!
- 2 liters (8 cups) homemade tonkotsu broth
- 70ml (1/4 cup) soy sauce (or to taste)
- 400g (16 oz) top quality dried ramen noodles
- 4 spring onions (scallions) green parts only, thinly sliced
- 85g (3 oz) wild mushrooms (optional)
- 85g (3 oz) bok choy (optional)
- 2 slices or chashu pork (optional)
- Soft boiled eggs (optional)
- Heat about 2 1/2 liters of homemade tonkotsu broth over a high heat and bring to a boil. Simmer it down to thicken some and then add soy sauce to taste. I recommend adding this in small amounts until you are happy with the flavour.
- Cook the ramen noodles per the package instructions. This usually only takes about 5 to 7 minutes.
- Divide the cooked ramen noodles between four heated bowls and top equally with the hot broth.
- Add whatever topping you like and serve immediately.
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Amount Per Serving: Calories: 162Total Fat: 6gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 4mgSodium: 739mgCarbohydrates: 21gFiber: 2gSugar: 4gProtein: 7g