Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Rumblings: Tonkotsu Stock Trial


Oh yeah, that happened. It's just so beautiful.

I finally tried making tonkotsu* stock, which, as I've mentioned before, is a pain. Or is it? It certainly takes a really long time for the bones to give up all their delicious innards (10-15 hours of simmering). But Marc Matsumoto and J. Kenji Lopez-Alt, whose recipes I referenced for this trial, probably make it more complicated than it really needs to be. They're going for their own idealized tonkotsu stocks, very rich and complexly flavored.

After this trial, though I came across this recipe, which references this very simple tonkotsu stock approach (and also mentions Matsumoto's). And it helped clarify for me how simple tonkotsu stock really is. At it's very base, it's like the pork version of sullung tang, the Korean beef bone stock. Except that lots more ingredients are added to the pork stock foundation, whereas with sullung tang it's basically the beef stock and salt. And maybe a couple other garnishes.

Anyway, I'm working out what to add for my own ideal tonkotsu soup (sadly, no ramen noodles for me, as they're wheat based). Here are some good things to include: ideally chashu braising broth or alternatively soy sauce, mirin, white pepper, sesame paste...I'll do a proper write-up when I settle things more. The chopped up, braised fatback is pretty key for a rich soup, though. But too much, or too thick a stock, and it's overboard, too thick and sticky.

Remember how I mentioned a gentle simmer for clear stock? Well, with tonkotsu (and sullung tang) you actually want a thick, "milky"** stock, so you don't need to simmer gently.


Hmm, looks like a mess, huh? Well, all those ingredients get strained out. Also, I should have par-boiled and/or cleaned the bones more at the start if I wanted a lighter-colored soup. No biggy just making it for myself, though.

Oh, right. After shooting the pic at the top, I realized maybe I should show the noodles (quinoa and corn based) in the bowl since it was a noodle soup, after all...but now the egg isn't as pretty. Ah well.


*By the way, do you sometimes try to order "tonkatsu ramen"? Well, lemme just tell you that you're ordering fried breaded pork cutlet ramen, in that case. Tonkotsu, with an "O", literally means pork (ton) bone (kotsu). Hense tonkotsu ramen is pork bone ramen. Tonkatsu, with an "A", means pork cutlet (katsu being katsuretsu--cutlet--shortened). I don't deny, though, that fried breaded pork cutlet ramen sounds awesome.

**[edit] Agh, I added quotation marks because it's bothersome when I see "milky" or "creamy" used to describe foods in menus since I don't know whether there is literally some form of milk in it or not. There isn't milk coming out of the bones (I wouldn't be making it otherwise), so I'll try to remember to add the quotes when using the adjective figuratively.

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