David Chang is out to torture us! We were glued to the screen as Chef Chang heartily slurped away through bowl after bowl of ramen on Mind of a Chef (season 1). His unabashed enthusiasm and his bliss inspired envy in our bellies and watered our mouths. With each episode featuring this hot, delicious Japanese noodle soup, our craving grew stronger. Having no ramen joint in Tucson, I was left with no choice but to concoct my own bowl. I drove myself to the local Asian market to buy ingredients to make a pot of my own.
My intention was to make the Momofuku broth, but, on this particular grocery run, they had run out of chicken backs. So, I improvised the recipe below based on what was available: pig feet and pork necks. Miso was added for umami and bacon at the very end for a distinct smokiness. I used kombu and dried shiitake to layer the flavors and a combination vegetables to deepen the broth. I waited until the end to taste, season, add to and refine the broth with what I had on hand. Goodness ensued. This is our favorite homemade broth thus far.
Fresh ramen noodles are non-existent at Asian grocers in Tucson, so made my own (see link for recipe). I’ve tried substituting Chinese wonton style noodles before. They’re too thin and soft and don’t quite have that bite. If you can find it, a suitable substitute for homemade are the noodles from refrigerated ramen packages. They usually come with their own broth seasoning. Just toss the seasoning and boil the noodles according to package directions and use with your broth.
Making ramen is a time consuming process, but, a satisfying one. So, if you haven’t watched Mind of a Chef, I recommend watching it on Netflix while your broth is stewing away. It’s inspiring, funny and entertaining.
Tonkotsu Miso Ramen
Makes 4 large bowls
Suggestions for Ramen garnishes
Thinly sliced greens of green onions
Julienned ginger, very thin
Thin slices of fresh shitake
Thin slices of Japanese fish cake
Sweet corn, cooked
Slices of bok choy or other Asian greens
Thinly sized Charshu Pork
Slow cooked eggs
Tonkatsu Miso Broth
2.5 lb pork feet
2.5 lbs. pork neck bones
1-4”x5” sheet of kombu seaweed
1 ½ cup of dried shiitake mushrooms
2 carrots, peeled, trimmed and halved
2 small onion, halved
1 leek, trimmed of greens split length-wise and washed
1 dozen whites of green onions (save greens for garnish)
2 slices of bacon (I use Nueske’s Applewood smoked)
2-5 Tbsp. white miso
¼ to 1 cup of braising liquid from Chashu
Before starting broth, do steps 1 in ramen noodle recipe, so your dough has time to rest. Let it rest at least 4 hours, preferably overnight before rolling out and cutting. I also start cooking the Charshu pork while the broth is simmering (step 10 below).
Cooking the broth
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- In a rimmed cookie sheet, place pork bones in one layer. Roast for 30 minutes.
- While bones are roasting, fill 10 quart pot ¾ of the way full with water. Add kombu and bring to a boil.
- Turn off heat and let flavor steep for 10 minutes. Remove and discard kombu.
- Add dried shiitake mushrooms to pot, bring back to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes.
- Strain and discard mushrooms.
- Add bones and fond from cookie sheet to pot and bring to a simmer. I deglaze fond with a couple ladles of the hot cooking liquid.
- Add carrots and cover.
- Roast onions, leek and scallion in pan or over stove until lightly charred and add to broth.
- Cover and simmer for 2 hours.
- Remove vegetables and strain liquids into a bowl by pressing pieces through a strainer. Pour liquid back into pot. Discard vegetables.
- Cover and simmer for additional 4-6 hours.
- Add bacon, boil for 30 minutes, uncovered.
- Season with ¼ to 1 cup of liquid from Chashu Pork and 2-5 Tbsp. of miso according to taste. Add a little of each at a time, let the flavors blend for a minute or 2, then taste.
Assembling a bowl of ramen
- Boil ramen noodles for 1-2 minutes until al-dente, strain and add to bowl.
- Layer your choice of garnishes.
- Pour boiling broth over and serve.