I don’t usually repost recipes but I had to for this one. The last attempt at tonkotsu ramen was fraught with disasters, starting from flooding my vacuum sealer with marinade for the sous vide pork belly, then having flavour challenges as sugar substitute is actually sweeter than sugar and that made the chashu pork belly more sweet than I liked amd the final indignity where my helper sliced the pork belly into strips rather than rounds (after all the effort of cooking the pork belly rolled up and tied with kitchen twine).
It took me quite a while to remake the recipe, mainly because I was waiting for my shipment of sous vide ziplock bags from Amazon. While a good friend E who is a confirmed gadgetholic wanted to get a chamber vacuum sealer, I felt that because of space constraints that a pack of bags would work out a lot better. And be much cheaper of course (channeling my inner Scrooge). So I did a little dance when the sous vide bags arrived this week – rather big but perfect for the rolled up pork belly. The kitchen geek in me was rubbing my hands in gleeful anticipation at how many Chinese type dishes I could make with sous vide now.
The advantage of redoing recipes is that you don’t just learn from your previous mistakes, you get to tweak and improve things. For example this time I obsessively trimmed the pork belly to be an even and neat rectangle. This made the roll look perfectly cylindrical and the results when sliced up were truly pretty (my OCD trait shining through).
Of course I still had a minor kitchen disaster this time. After sealing the pork belly (I was so pleased with the vacuum zipper bag), I was too impatient to wait for the sous vide circulator to bring the pot of water up to the right temperature and dumped the bag into the pot. As can be expected the thermostat of the circulator went crazy and the pot of water boiled over while sensing a temperature of 40 deg C (yes the pork belly was cold). At the same time I realised that I hadn’t removed all the air bubbles from the bag earlier and the bag had ballooned up into a hot, quivering ball. We had to rescue the bag of pork belly and restart the sous vide circulator with a fresh pot of water. That was such an illustration about how not to be impatient and that there is a perfect time to start a new task. In fact it was a good reminder that for the people I am overseeing and mentoring that I cannot push them to rise up in their roles until they are ready. There is no short cut.
So this whole exercise was an exercise in patience. It was not easy to cook something for more than 24 hours – I’m not sure if my guests who had the ramen thought that it was good. I think the sous vide pork belly was great- tender and flavourful, and my pork averse hubs said that it was not “porky” (a high accolade indeed). The broth was really rich and smooth, and had an added dimension of umami compared with the usual miso broth. Altogether a good outcome for homemade tonkotsu ramen, but lots of hard work going into it. So if you ever come to my place and I have served you Tonkotsu ramen, it’s because I love you so much! 😄
Low Carb Tonkotsu Ramen
SOUS VIDE PORK BELLY
- 1 kg pork belly, in a large piece
- 1/2 cup mirin
- 1 1/2 cup sake
- 1/2 cup of light soy sauce
- 1/4 cup sugar substitute
- 6 cloves of garlic, sliced into thin slices
- 6 sprigs of spring onion, white and green parts sliced into 1 cm lengths
- 2 inch piece of young ginger, sliced into thin rounds
- Trim the pork belly so that the piece is an even thickness and a near rectangle. Roll the pork belly up (I rolled it from the narrow end of the rectangle to make sure the pork belly formed a complete and overlapping circle) and secure with kitchen twine at 2 inch intervals.
- Bring the mirin, sake, soy sauce, sugar substitute to a boil till the sweetener dissolves. Set aside.
- Put the pork belly into the bag and pour the marinating fluid and spring onions, garlic and ginger in, surrounding the meat evenly.
- Lower the bag into a large pot of water. As the bag goes in, thanks to the Archimedes principle, the air will be pushed out of the bag. Carefully seal the zipper when all the air bubbles have been removed (stroke the air bubbles upwards).
- Sous vide at 70 deg C for 16-20 hours.
- Remove the pork belly from the bag and chill in the fridge for about 1-2 hours. When fully chilled, slice the pork belly into thin circular slices. Set aside.
TONKOTSU PORK BROTH
- 1 kg of pigs’ trotters cut into pieces
- 2 chicken carcasses
- 10 cloves of garlic, peeled and left whole
- 3 inch long piece of ginger, cut into 2-3 parts
- White parts of 20 scallions, chopped
- 2- 3 leeks, white parts cut into rounds
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- 2 – 3 tsp salt
- 100 g Miso paste
- 2 tbsp light soy sauce
- Place the pigs trotters and chicken bones into a large stock pot and over with cold water. Bring to a boil. When just boiled, take off the heat and pour away the water. Rinse the bones off and remove any pieces of blood or marrow. Set aside.
- Heat up the vegetable oil, then fry the garlic, ginger, scallion and leeks, for about 10 – 15 minutes until caramelized and browned.
- Put trotters and chicken bones in, then fill pot with enough water to cover the bones, at least 6 cups of water.
- Bring to the boil and simmer for another 6-8 hours. Skim off scum as it forms.
- Drain the stock and add the miso paste, soy sauce and salt to taste. You can add water to the stock if it is too thick (this time I added about 1 L water to the stock).
- 6 eggs, at room temperature
- Pot of boiling water
- Retained marinating fluid from pork belly sous vide as above
- Pierce the fat end of the eggs with a pin
- Carefully lower into the boiling with a slotted spoon
- Boil for 7 minutes exactly
- Remove from the boiling water and cool in a bath of cold water
- Peel the eggs and soak in the marinating fluid for at least 4 – 6 hours.
TONKOTSU RAMEN ASSEMBLY
- 6 packets of Shirataki noodles or ramen noodles
- 1/2 cup of sweet corn
- 1/2 cup of seaweed (nori) cut into thin strips
- 2 tbsp toasted sesame seeds
- 3 tbsp chopped green part of spring onions
- Dry fry the shirataki noodles after draining and rinsing
- Place a portion of noodles into each bowl
- Ladle soup over the noodles
- Lay 2 slices of pork belly in the bowl along with the lava egg that is sliced in half
- Garnish with spring onions, toasted sesame seeds, seaweed and a spoonful of sweet corn.