Over a year ago, I took up a challenge and made Tonkotsu Ramen at home. Needless to say, I spent hours and hours going in and out of the kitchen as I didn’t have a pressure cooker yet at the time. My Tonkotsu Broth itself took over 8 hours to cook and I imagine my gas bill must have been super high that month. However, I loved the result and have a new found respect for good ramen joints everywhere. Since I’ve acquired a Philips Pressure Cooker from the cooking competition few months ago, I have been waiting to cook ramen again. When I finally recovered from my bronchitis (some residual cough now but not too bad), I thought it was time to try another ramen recipe before the Japan month for Asian Food Fest ends.
I have mentioned a few times here that my favourite ramen in KL is Marutama Ramen (starting to sound like a broken record, I think). Originated from Japan, a bowl of Marutama ramen consists of Toripaitan (Chicken) Broth, super tender Pork Chashu, Seaweed, Spring Onions and their textbook perfect Ajitsuke Tamago (Marinated Soft Boiled Eggs). It’s the ultimate comfort food. Some of you have read this blog long enough to know that I’m a total noodle freak, and if I have craving for a certain place from time to time, you know that it’s definitely something special.
Incidentally, I did have a Marutama craving during the week and instead of spending RM40 in cab fares and another RM25 for a bowl in Fahrenheit 88 mall, I went out to my supermarket to purchase all the ingredients needed for this recipe. Granted, I did have to wait til the next day to finally savour my effort but my my was it worth the wait!
Of course, I don’t know the owner well enough to bribe for a recipe (I doubt they would give it out anyway), so I followed Norecipes’ recommedation for a Chicken broth and went from there. Marutama uses Aosa seaweed (riverbed seaweed) which I couldn’t find, so I had to make do with the regular type. Instead of using actual chili, I went for a spicy mayu instead (couldn’t eat too spicy yet, so a little goes a long way). Being Chicken broth, the cooking time is significantly less (5 hours on stove top, 1 and half hour with pressure cooker). The trick is to select chicken parts with plenty of skin to produce a creamy soup. Marutama uses Chicken feet predominantly, while I used mostly Chicken wing tips (Village grocer ran out of Chicken feet that day too)
Now let’s make some ramen!
Chicken (ToriPaitan) Broth (around 6-8 serving) Recipe from norecipes.com
1 pound Chicken bones
1 pound Chicken wing tips
1 small Leek cut into 4 pieces
2 length Ginger sliced into 8 coins
4 large cloves garlic unpeeled
Vegetable oil for frying the aromatics
4 inch piece kombu
10 cups water (or enough to cover the ingredients)
Bring a kettle full of water to a boil. Lay the wing tips and chicken bones in a clean sink, then pour the boiling water over the chicken. Wash the chicken with cold water, scrubbing off any clumps of blood. This step solidifies some of the blood on the chicken so you can wash it off and it doesn’t end up in your soup.
In a small saucepan, add the leeks, ginger and garlic, then cover with vegetable oil. Gently fry over medium low heat until the aromatics are dark brown, but not burnt (about 30-40 minutes).
Add the kombu, wingtips and bones to a pressure cooker (or on the stove top in a pot if using electric pressure cooker) and cover with 10 cups of water. Bring it to a boil uncovered, then skim off the scum that floats to the top. Continue skimming until you don’t see any more scum. Remove the kombu and discard, then add the fried leeks, ginger and garlic. Seal the lid, then cook under high pressure for 1.5 hours.
When the stock is done cooking, let it cool to room temperature. Pour it through a large strainer into a large bowl. Squeeze the solids with your hands to extract as much liquid as possible. You’ll notice that the liquid starts turning a creamy white. This is what gives the soup its body so be sure you get every last drop. You can either stop here and refrigerate the stock or keep going.
If you refrigerated the stock, it should be fairly easy to scrape off the excess fat with a spoon. If not, use a fat skimmer to skim off the extra fat and set the fat aside. In either case, you want to leave a little fat behind. Measure your the soup. You should have about 6 cups, if you have more, you should boil it down to 6 cups, if you have less, add water.
Chicken Broth Seasoning (serving for 1)
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon of Tahini paste
1/2 teaspoon salt
A touch of Spicy Sesame oil (or regular sesame oil)
Add above seasoning to the toripaitan stock, taste to adjust.
Chashu (Adapted from Seriouseats.com)
1 pound slab of Pork Belly
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup mirin
1/4 cup sugar
3 whole garlic cloves
1 thumb size ginger, smashed with knife
1 small shallot, cut in half
1 cup water or more
Cut the slab of Pork Belly in half and roll them round, securing with kitchen strings. Heat the rest of the ingredients in a small pot until boiling. Add pork belly. The liquid should almost cover the meat. Cover with lid, but not tight. Cook for 3-4 hours in low heat (slow bubbles), turning the pork occasionally. Test with a fork of skewer for tenderness.
Once the pork belly is done, let cool and then chill the whole thing in the fridge for few hours. I did mine for 4. Overnight would be best.
To serve, cut the pork belly into desired thickness and gently heat up in the braising liquid.
Ajitsuke Tamago (recipe from Seriouseats.com)
1/2 cup Water
1/4 cup Sake
1/4 cup Soy sauce
1/4 cup Mirin
2 tablespoons Sugar
4 eggs (Room temperature)
Combine water, sake, soy, mirin, and sugar in a medium bowl and whisk until sugar is dissolved. Pour into a ziplock bag.
Boil enough water to cover all the eggs. Once the water has come to a boil, reduce to heat to a gentle simmer, then lower the eggs gently into the water. Cook for exactly 6 minutes. Drain hot water and drop the eggs into ice water bath for a couple of minutes, then carefully peel eggs under cold running water.
Add all the eggs into the ziplock bag and twist the bag to release the air so the liquid cover the eggs completely. Leave in the fridge for at least 12 hours. In my experience, 48 hours will produce fully marinated eggs (all the way to the yolk). Reheat the egg gently in hot ramen broth.
Extra toppings: Roast seaweed sheets, Black fungus, Spring onions.
To assemble, cook the fresh ramen to your desire doneness (al-dente is recommended), pour the broth over the noodles and arrange all the toppings on top.
Sometimes giving in to my craving can be quite detrimental because I subsequently had ramen for the next 2 meals and couldn’t fit into the dress I wanted to wear for a wedding. Naughty girl! The broth is absolutely delicious by the way: it tasted of pure chicken essence with the aroma of sesame and smooth mouth feel. It’s rich yet not as cloying as Tonkotsu broth and I could finish the whole bowl in 10 minutes. The seaweed and spring onions added another dimension to the body as well.
I was very happy with the fresh ramen noodles I bought too, springy and absolutely slurp-worthy. Yes I slurped them like a true Japanese! The egg here had been marinated for almost 24 hours, you can see that the white has already turned light brown. If you cook it following the timing, you’ll definitely get perfect runny centre. And if you let it go for another 24 hours (not more), you will be very much rewarded:
The yolk has darkened significantly and the texture changed slightly. It’s aromatic through and through. Such an orgasmic experience.
Chashu done this method is extremely flavourful and fork tender (well in my case chopstick tender). This pairs really well just with a simple bowl of rice and some vegetables too. The fat bit literally melts in your mouth. Exquisite.
Whoa! This must be one of my longer posts ever. I suppose that makes up for my one-week absence. Having said that, if you actually read everything til this point, you must be rather bored. Haha! Just kidding, don’t close this page please! :P