Recipe: Pressure Cooker Tonkotsu Ramen Broth
Hakata/Tonkotsu Ramen Broth
Pressure Cooker Tonkotsu Ramen Broth
This is a fully emulsified, creamy, fatty, pork bone broth with all the flavor of a traditional ramen recipe. There are zero artificial additives; just pork bones and other traditional ingredients.
While this recipe is what I currently use to make tonkotsu ramen, I’d also invite you to think of this as more of a technique rather than a set-in-stone recipe (see the Recipe Notes at the end).
1) This broth is completely unseasoned; you will want to season it with salt, soy, tare, miso, or any combination of those before enjoying with your favorite ramen noodles and toppings.
2) Will serve 6-8 people (see Recipe Notes at the end).
- 1 lb pork neck bones
- 1 lb pork femur bones
- 2 ham hocks (raw, not smoked)
- 1 pig trotter (split)
Aromatics and additives
- 6 scallions/green onions (white part only) (chopped to roughly 2″ lengths)
- 6 dried shiitake mushrooms
- 4 4-inch sections of dried kombu
- 4 thick-sliced katsuobushi
The only things you really need are a pressure cooker (I use an 8-quart cooker, but this could easily squeeze into a 6-quart cooker), and some kind of blender.
I prefer an immersion blender for this, but any blender would work. If you only have a wire whisk, that should work too, although with considerably more effort on your part.
You’ll also probably want a fine mesh skimmer, a wire strainer, a good sized wooden spoon and a pair of tongs. Not required, but they will make your life a whole lot easier.
Prep the bones
Thaw all the pork bones (if frozen) the night before.
Load them all into your pressure cooker, and cover with water.
Mix roughly, then let stand for five minutes or so.
Pour off the water, rinse the bones off, and cover with water again.
Over high heat, bring to a rolling boil for a full minute, skimming off any scum that gathers on the surface.
Remove from heat and pour off the water; under cold running water, rinse the bones and remove any visible blood.
Make your broth
Cover the bones with water again; return to the stove and add all your aromatics and flavorants.
In this recipe we’re using dried shiitake mushrooms, dried kombu, dried smoked fish, and green onions.
With whatever pressure cooker you have, set it to the highest pressure it will take and bring it up to pressure.
Cook your broth under pressure for one hour. After that time, the meat and skin should be extremely soft, and slip off the bones easily or have disintegrated completely. The softer bones should crumble between your fingers.
OPTIONAL: After one hour, bring the pressure off and separate the skin, connective tissue, and meat from the bones. Discard the bones and return the rest to the pressure cooker; bring back up to to pressure and hammer it for another five minutes.
Emulsify your broth
Let your pressure cooker come back off pressure normally; strain out the bones (if you omitted the optional step), meat, and aromatics.
Transfer the broth into your blender, or back into your (now-rinsed) pressure cooker.
Blend on high power until it emulsifies. You will get an oily foam on top, which you can knock down by bringing the broth up to a quick boil; I just let it be, as it will dissipate into a thin slick of pork fat on top of the soup, which I quite like.
You can use this broth immediately, or transfer it to a container and refrigerate until the next day. That’s what I usually go with, as I typically prep this alongside my ramen toppings… which is a whole other series of recipes.
If you don’t want to wait for those, Kenji Lopez-Alt has an excellent series on his ramen broth and topping recipes, including chashu pork and marinated soft-boiled eggs.
This recipe consistently makes about ten cups of broth, which makes for roughly 8 servings.
I know a cup and a bit of broth doesn’t sound like much, but remember you’ll have your tare/miso, noodles, and toppings. The bowl below was composed with just a hair over a cup of broth. And that’s the biggest bowl we have.
If you’re serving especially hungry people, give everyone an extra scoop of broth (adjust your seasoning accordingly) and you should be at around 6 servings.
This is what I currently use for my ramen broth, but I am always experimenting with different proteins, flavors, and types of bones.
As I said, I encourage you to think of this as a process/technique rather than an immutable recipe. As long as your broth has enough fat and gelatin — this recipe goes considerably overboard on the gelatin side, as that’s how I like it — you will be able to get this kind of result.
For example, this is far and away the best use I’ve found for the carcass from a supermarket or Costco rotisserie chicken; I’ll get a quart of slightly thinner, but perfectly serviceable stock out of each carcass, and it’s certainly preferable to the waste of just throwing it away.
Likewise, substitute beef bones for the pork (and change up the aromatics), and you’re about an hour away from Korean gomtang.