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.
Furthermore, I don’t think I should’ve used as many aromatics as I did on my first batch of tonkotsu. I was feeling nervous that the broth wouldn’t be savory, so I added a bunch of extra ingredients in. This lack of confidence lead to a dark, bitter broth. For batch 2, I’ll pull back on the aromatics to only what I know: ginger, garlic, onions. You can never go wrong with those, and they’re flavor profiles I know well enough to tell where I screwed up exactly.
My final test bowl of soup ended up dark and thin. Thankfully, most of the bitter aftertaste had vanished after a night in the fridge, but it definitely didn’t taste like tonkotsu. It wasn’t inedible, but it also wasn’t very appetizing. While this may have been a failure of a cook, it was a first attempt, and I learned a lot for the second batch. Hopefully, we can get something I can serve the family on the next one – for now, this one is going in the trash.
Notes for Next Time
- Use pork femur bones – more marrow, better quality. Don’t buy from Super G Mart, their pork bones suck.
- Use less aromatics. Understand the cooking of the bones before experimenting with flavor. Be more confident!
- CLEAN the bones. Really clean them. There should be nothing dark before starting the cook, just white and beige.
- Don’t use so much water – use an 8 gallon pot for the slow simmer rather than a 16 gallon. Final broth was too watery, even after reduction.