Experiments, Ramen

Tonkotsu Experiment 02: Semi-success

November 24, 2014

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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.

img_1527This time I used femurs. The femurs certainly seemed easier to clean, and were of a much lighter consistency when working with them, but I still think there was a large amount of dark marrow I was not able to remove, hence the darker shade. I used 5 pounds of femurs in my 8 gallon pot (the 16 gallon ended up too watery, if you’ll recall).
img_1528I added in my aromatics: garlic, onions, and ginger, my three go-to stock flavors. They always work, and they always boost the flavor, so I will always use them. I brought it to a boil, then let it simmer for the long haul.
img_1533After 3 hours…
img_153510 hours…
img_1536Meanwhile, I got the chashu ready. Like Hsien, I’ve started using the pork belly I can obtain from my local Asian market. It’s cut into strips, making it harder to tie so we can get those nice, round circles. Here I am searing it…
img_1537…then braising it in soy sauce, ginger, garlic, mirin, and sake…
img_1539 …and here it is done. Like Hsien, mine came apart during the cook.
img_1540I used my “Asian style noodles” again, they turned out pretty good. Next time I’ll finally get to use my homemade noodle-maker, but for now, these’ll do.
img_1541In the end, it came out okay, but I wasn’t blown away. Neither was Amelia, my resident ramen-a-holic.

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I think I’ll be taking a break from tonkotsu for a little while. With the holidays coming up, it’s just going to be too hard to do an experiment as arduous as this one. As with the last batch, I did learn some things for the next one, so there’s always that positive note. For me, right now, it’s all about finding that elusive tonkotsu flavor. I think I need to do some reconnaissance at the two local ramen shops to test their tonkotsu, try to remember exactly what flavor I’m going after so I don’t have to cling to these stock recipes so rigidly. I think that may be hurting the experiments more than anything.

For next time:

  • Figure out a good tare recipe. Tare is a necessity with tonkotsu.
  • Use pig trotters and some chicken bones when making the stock, maybe 4 lbs trotters, 1 lb chicken. Elevate the flavor.
  • CLEAN. BETTER.
  • Get pork belly in slabs.
  • Down the cooking time – 12 hours rather than 18. Too much reduction.

If anyone else has any thoughts as to what I should try in experiment 03, please feel free to share them in the comments!

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