I have read a lot about ramen because we adore it. Not the instant ramen that comes in styrofoam cups (actually, do they even still sell those?!?) or the ones that have a powdered mix to make the broth by just adding boiling water. I'm talking about actual ramen. Real ramen.
We love going to ramen noodle houses where the broth has been simmering for days and most of the patrons do not speak English. One of our favorite ramen spots is in Palo Alto. The Bay Area is not too far, but it's not close enough to run up for a quick lunch. So, I was determined to learn to make my own. And what makes amazing ramen, in my book, is delicious broth.
I am not a stranger to making homemade broths and stocks, especially during the Fall and Winter. But I haven't ever made an authentic broth for homemade ramen. I read about Tonkotsu broth, made with just pork and water. But the version that intrigued me the most was one that included pig trotters, chicken paws (why do they call them that, aren't they claws'?!?), and pork bones. Thankfully, I know a pig farmer; he and his Bacon Bus come to town once a month. You can read about Jack Kimmich and his California Kurobuta in my post: California Kurobuta Burgers.
I didn't really follow a single recipe. I cobbled together parts of different recipes that interested me. And, just over twelve hours in, my house is smelling so delicious. I can't wait to use this homemade ramen broth for dinner tonight. By the time dinner rolls around, this will be a 20-hour broth. One thing I read - in Ramen: Japanese Noodles and Small Dishes by Tove Nilsson* - that stuck with me: "The secret behind a delicious broth is a long cooking time and quality ingredients."
makes 2 large pots full of broth
- 2 pounds pig trotters
- 4 pounds pork bones
- 1 pound chicken paws
- 2 onions, peeled and quartered
- 6 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
- 4 ounces brown mushrooms, quartered
- 2" knob fresh ginger, halved
- 6 to 8 green onions, cut to 4" lengths
Place trotters and bones in a large pot or divide them into two pots, depending on what sizes you have. Cover them to water and bring to a boil. As soon as the water boils, drain the liquid out and rinse out your pot.
Place the boiled trotters and bones back into the pot with the chicken paws and other ingredients. Cover with water and bring to a boil. Skim off any foam that forms after it has started to boil. The broth should boil steadily to release all of the collagen and fat. If the liquid is evaporating too much, add more water in, as needed.
Boil for, at least, 18 hours. Strain and save the broth. Season with salt before using.
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