Tonkotsu Ramen Broth
Instead of waiting in line for a single bowl of delicious Ramen, use a weekend to make you own grass-fed and finished broth that you won't be able to find anywhere.
Makes: about 4 quarts
Prep: 30 mins total
Cook: active - 60 mins; inactive - all weekend
T = Tablespoon
t = teaspoon
2 lb BRD Pork Bones
1/2 BRD Pork Trotter (optional); they should come split by length.
1 BRD Chicken Frame + 2 wings if you have them.
1/4 cup Mirin; seasoned rice wine
1 T BRD Premium Cooking Lard
1/2 Yellow onion; root end left on, cut in half with root end holding it together.
6 garlic cloves; peeled
1”-2” ginger knob; washed and split by length
1 Whole leek; cut in half with root end attached, washed VERY well
1 Scallion bunch; whites parts only, reserve green portion
4 oz Dried mushrooms; shiitake preferably
Rimmed Sheet Tray
Wooden or other stiff spatula
Large Stock Pot
Instant Pot or Slow Cooker; optional but energy efficient
Fine Mesh Strainer
4-32oz glass mason jars or plastic deli containers.
First Boil - Remove Impurities
- Place bones, frame and trotter into the large stock pot and cover with cold water.
- Bring to boil.
- Remove from heat as soon as the water reaches a full boil.
- Strain and rinse bones, frame and trotters well.
- Pick out any large deposits of dark grey marrow gunk or coagulated blood (super dark red). It should come off easily. This stuff is not dangerous or bad, but will muddy up your final product.
- Pat dry with a paper towel and allow to air dry while your oven preheats.
- Set oven rack to the middle position and preheat to 500℉.
- Clean up your mess while preheating and prepare for next steps.
- Roast bones until they turn brown. Check after 20 mins and incrementally add 5 mins as needed.
- Remove sheet tray from oven and move bones to cooking vessel* (stock pot, instant pot, slow-cooker). Pour in any render fat.
- While the sheet tray is still hot, add Mirin and scrape away all the bits of fond from the cooking surface. You're making clean-up much easier and rescuing a lot of left-behind flavor.
- Add Mirin/fond mixture to the cooking vessel.
- Preheat a cast iron or other heavy-bottomed pan over high heat. Open your windows and turn on the vents.
- Add cooking lard and heat until it starts to smoke.
- Add onion, garlic cloves and ginger and cook until well-charred. I’m talking black, but still recognizable. About 15 mins. Remove single pieces as they get done, as the garlic will go quick.
- Remove from pan and place in cooking vessel with bones.
Add Fresh Flavor
- Wash leeks: Leaving root-end attached, slice in half by length and rinse under fast running water holding the green end down. Leeks are full of sand and it settles in-between the layers. Get it all out. Trim away green part so the leek fits in your vessel.
- Cut scallions where it begins to turn green, about 2-3” from root end. Save greens for garnish or another use. (wrap in a paper towel and store in plastic wrap or an air tight container. Store on top self of the fridge).
- Add washed leek, white scallions and mushrooms to cooking vessel.
- Cover all contents in cold water. Adding ice** helps remove any impurities still left in the bones.
- Bring to a rolling boil over high heat.
- For the first 20 mins of boiling, scoop off any scum or grey foam that appears on the surface and around the edge of the pot. Use a clean sponge or wet paper towel to remove any from the edge of the pot.
- Reduce heat to med-low and allow to simmer. Cover with a lid or large, heavy plate.
- Check the pot after about 15 mins and check the simmer speed. It should be at a slow rolling boil. Generally speaking, with the lid on, if you can only hear it boiling, you’re good. If you can see it boiling — bubbles and liquid escaping, making a mess on your stovetop — it's boiling too hard.
- Cook for 24 hours minimum (most Ramen shops go for 3-4 days), topping off with water as needed to keep all the bones submerged. If cooking overnight, top off with water until fully submerged +1” and reduce heat to lowest setting.
- After the full cook, remove and discard all solids by first removing any foam from the surface, then large pieces with your tongs, then strain through a fine mesh strainer placed inside the large bowl. Line strainer with cheese cloth for a super clean broth.
- Skim off the liquid fat from the surface of the broth using the ladle. Hold the ladle handle vertically then press straight down into the broth. Make sure the ladle stays level with the surface of the liquid and allow the fat to flow into the cup rather than scooping, stopping when broth leaks into the cup. Repeat until most of the liquid fat is removed then discard.
- Clean stock pot and set over medium heat. Add broth back in and reduce to 3-4 quarts based on preferred strength.
- Using the cleaned ladle, transfer to mason jars or quart containers and let fully cool. Store in fridge for 3-5 days or freezer for 3 months.
- Set slow cooker to the highest setting.
- Follow Stock Pot steps through Step 5. You probably will not be able to achieve a strong boil, so don’t worry about that, just get it as hot as you can. It will definitely take longer to get to temperature, so double the expected times mentioned in steps 3 & 5 or you can start in a stock pot and transfer to the slow cooker for the long haul.
- Cook on high for at least 48 hours. Still topping off with water as needed.
- Continue with steps 7-10 from above.
Instant Pot (IP)*
- Set your IP to [Sauté-Custom-339℉] (as high as it goes) and follow Stock Pot Steps 1-3
- Change setting to [Slow Cooker-Custom-205℉] and continue with Step 4-6. Set cook time for as long as your IP will go, mine goes to 20 hrs. Cook for 48 hours, minimum.
- Continue with Stock Pot Steps 7-10.
- I do not recommend using the pressure cook setting for this broth. The flavor and body needs time to develop.
* Consider the capacity of your slow cooker or Instant Pot prior to starting. Adjust the quantity of ingredients accordingly. You may even want to place the bones in the pot before you start to be sure you’ll have space for them plus water. If you don’t think you will have enough room for everything with plenty of room for water, cook in stages:
- Follow entire recipe until the Cook steps.
- Cook the pork bones and chicken frame for 6-8 hours on high. Remove any scum that is left on the surface and strain out solids.
- Remove solids and strain out the broth into the large bowl.
- Wash the cooking vessel and replace the broth and add the pork trotter, charred and fresh aromatics and top off with water.
- Cook on high for 24-48 hours.
If everything fits but you can’t quite fit 4 quarts of water fill to max capacity and cook as directed. Save the solids and cook again. You’ll be able to combine the two batches and reduce to desired strength/quantity.
**I added 4 cups of ice with 10 cups of water