Welcome to the first real ramen experiment of the fall, Tonkotsu Experiment 006! Why 006? Because it sounds cooler. And because it’s the sixth Tonkotsu I’ve attempted. After multiple failures throughout last year, this one ended up being a surprising success, given that I made it in just under an hour and a half.
Over the past week, I’ve been in New York on business. I know I don’t talk about my actual day job on this blog, and that’s not going to change here, but I will say that it was a long, grueling, but ultimately rewarding few days. However, that’s not all that happened. I decided that while I was back in the city, I would eat as much ramen as possible. Although I didn’t get anywhere near the amount I wanted, and I didn’t get to the noodle shops I really wanted to, I did have some phenomenal ramen while in the Big Apple.
I don’t make ramen year-round – if I did, we’d all get pretty tired of it. As good as ramen is, eating the same thing every day year-round can lead to palate fatigue, so I reserve my major ramen production for the fall-winter months. Yesterday was the first day ramen was specifically requested (mostly due to the cold weather and dreary flooding all across the south), so we have our first served ramen of the fall! Luckily, our friends Eric (shouldersofgiantmidgets.blogspot.com) and Kat came over to hang out, so we had some guests to try out a ramen experiment on.
Holy crap, its been awhile, huh? The holidays always do that, make it harder to get posts and ramen experiments done. Between Thanksgiving, preparing for Christmas, the entire family being sick at one point or another, and trying to get 16 spots completed for Q1 before going on winter holiday, I’ve barely had time to focus on anything ramen related. However, a few weeks back, I did manage to finally make what I consider to be the best ramen I’ve ever made. It was absolutely phenomenal. I didn’t get many pictures of the process, but I do have the recipe.
Well, at least it was edible this time… Nate here with my second tonkotsu experiment. While not a complete failure like last time (we were able to have it for dinner without feeling sick), I wouldn’t call this a complete success either. There was a mild tonkotsu flavor back there somewhere, but it was still heavy, and dark. Not that milky white tonkotsu is known for.
Hey, Hsien here again! So, on my previous post, I attempted The Food Lab’s rolled pork chashu. The rolling of the pork belly didn’t work out so well, but the flavor was still amazing, so I’m just going to throw the rolling element out and forge ahead. Last time, while the tenderness of the pork belly was amazing, I felt it could have just used just a tad more seasoning and flavor. Gotta be careful, though – there’s a ramen place sort of near me that has okay ramen, but their chashu just tastes like soy sauce. We want it to taste like pork, with just the right soy and salt level. So we’re gonna mix things up a bit this time, but not TOO much. I don’t want to end up with a pork belly that is vastly different than the last batch, and then not be able to identify exactly which element it was that made the difference.
I’ve made plenty of shoyu batches over the years, but I’ve never made my other favorite kind of broth: tonkotsu. Harder to find in years past (it wasn’t until the last five years or so that tonkotsu became readily available in Charlotte), tonkotsu is a rich, pale white pork broth that is savory and soulful. It’s Hsien’s favorite kind of ramen, and my second favorite, so in preparation for our eventual RamenCon, I wanted to try my hand at it. This first batch was a complete and utter failure in flavor, look, and design, but I learned a lot in the process for batch 2.
Over the years, I’ve tried, in actuality, two ramen recipes. One I found on the internet about a decade ago, and the other is my current Easy Ginger Broth recipe, which is actually modified from the original recipe. I like my easy ginger broth, but it is by no means the best ramen in the world. The previous recipe included a step to make your own dashi before adding it to store bought chicken broth, then adding two tablespoons of shoyu at the end. It was okay, but not great. I simplified it by using Hon Dashi rather than making your own dashi, mostly to save time – real ramen takes days to make. However, I decided that I need to take my ramen making to the next level, so I decided to go back to the “from scratch” recipes, this time doing something I’ve never done before: made my own stock. Here’s what I did.