Tsukemen – Dipping Ramen
In episode 5 of “Around the World with Manu” I hunted down some of the best ramen in Tokyo. Ramen is a gift to the universe, that beautiful thick soup so full of flavour, loaded with eggs and pork and toppings — yum.
The richness of the Tonkotsu broth is well worth the half a day it takes to simmer, just make it a day or two in advance and it will be ready to go. Toppings and extras really make the ramen experience so don’t skimp — and make sure to slurp your noodles like the Japanese do!
Serves 4 – 6
For the Tonkotsu (pork bone broth)
- 2 pork trotters, cut in half length-ways (ask your butcher to do this for you)
- 1 kg pork leg bones, cut into small chunks (ask your butcher to do this for you)
- 2 brown onions, roughly chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, bruised
- 5 cm piece ginger, sliced
- 200 g swiss brown mushrooms, sliced
- 250 g piece fatty pork belly skin
- 4 litres water
For the braised pork shoulder
- 1 kg piece boned pork shoulder or boned and skinned pork belly
- 100 ml thin soy sauce
- 150 ml mirin seasoning
- 100 ml cooking sake
- 60 g caster sugar
- ½ teaspoon ground white pepper
- 2 spring onions, sliced into 2 cm batons
- 4 cm piece ginger, sliced
- 2 cloves garlic, bruised
- 500 ml tonkotsu broth or chicken stock
For the soup
- 1 medium eggplant, cut into 1 cm dice, salted and rinsed
- 40 ml canola or peanut oil
- 1 small leek, thinly sliced
- ½ cup corn kernels, fresh or frozen
- 6 shiitake mushrooms, sliced
- reserved tonkotsu broth
- reserved braising liquid
- 5 g katsubushi (dried skipjack tuna flakes) or bonito flakes
- 3 Tbsp Japanese sesame paste (neri goma)
- 1 Tbsp genmai miso paste
- 100 g black fungus, sliced or torn
For the eggs
- 4 – 6 soft boiled eggs, peeled
- 150 ml soy sauce
- 10 ml dark soy sauce
- 40 ml mirin rice wine seasoning
- 400 g Japanese ramen noodles
- 8 – 12 scallops
- 1 Tbsp butter or oil
- 1 large handful bean shoots
- 8 – 12 sheets toasted, salted nori sheets
- menma (fermented bamboo shoots)
- shichimi togarashi, Japanese chilli sprinkle
- extra katsubushi (dried skipjack tuna flakes) or bonito flakes
- The Tonkotsu stock can be made up to a week prior and stored in the fridge until required. It will solidify when cold but will return to liquid when heated.
- Genmai miso is a fermented soybean paste made with brown rice (genmai) instead of the more traditional polished white rice. White or red miso can be used if you’re unable to find the genmai variety.
- Salting eggplant removes excess moisture and bitterness. Place diced eggplant in a colander, sprinkle generously with salt and set aside 10 mins. Rinse to remove salt, then pat dry with paper towel.
- To make the tonkotsu broth, place trotters and bones in a large stock pot over and cover with water. Bring to the boil then reduce heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes. Drain through a colander and discard the dirty water.
- Wash pot, trotters and bones, scrubbing where required to remove any excess congealed blood and scum. Return the trotters and bones to the clean pot and cover again with cold water.
- Heat oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat. Add onion, garlic and ginger and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 – 7 minutes or until onions have begun to caramelise. Add onion mixture and mushrooms to the pot of bones, place over a high heat and bring to the boil.
- Reduce heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes. Skim the surface of the liquid to remove any scum released from the bones, then place the piece of pork belly into the pot.
- Simmer for a further 4 – 6 hours, or longer if possible. Check regularly and top up with water to keep bones submerged until the final hour, then allow the broth to reduce a bit and concentrate. Cool slightly then place a muslin lined colander over a bowl and strain. Reserve stock and discard solids. The stock can be made up to a week prior and stored in the fridge until required.
- To make the braised pork shoulder, place the pork in a saucepan that is an inch or two wider than the meat and a few inches deeper — you want it to have a little bit of room when it is braising but not too much. Add remaining braised pork ingredients (soy sauce through stock) and bring to the boil over medium-high heat.
- Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 1 – 1 ½ hours or until tender. Turn off the heat and allow the pork to cool in the stock. When cool, move pork to a plate and cover until ready to serve. Don’t slice the pork too early or it will dry out.
- Strain the braising stock through a fine meshed sieve covered with muslin, reserve liquid and discard solids.
- To make the soup, heat oil in a large heavy based saucepan over high heat. Add the leeks, corn, shitake mushrooms and rinsed eggplant and cook, stirring, until vegetables are golden and tender. Add reserved tonkotsu, braising liquid, and bonito and bring to the boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer 5 – 7 minutes until stock has slightly reduced.
- Remove pan from heat and immediately whisk in the sesame paste and miso, then stir through the black fungus. You don’t want to bring the soup back to the boil at this point as the stock will split.
- While the soup is cooking, prepare the noodles according to packet directions then plunge into cold water to chill.
- For the eggs, place soy, dark soy and mirin in a small saucepan and bring to the boil over a medium heat. Add the peeled soft boiled eggs and simmer for 2 minutes or until the yolks are cooked to your liking. Ensure the eggs are completely submerged, topping up with a little boiling water if required.
- Heat a medium frying pan over high heat and quickly sear scallops in the butter for 30 seconds on each side.
- Divide ramen noodles into serving bowls. Thinly slice pork and halve the eggs, arrange on top of the noodles. Finish each bowl with scallops and a few pieces of nori. Serve with bean shoots, extra bonito, menma (fermented bamboo shoots) and shichimi togarashi on the side.
Don’t miss all my destination tips from my time in Japan!