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There is something magical about a great bowl of Japanese ramen noodle soup. It’s absolutely wonderful. If you’ve never had good ramen go out and get some.

Just do it. Today. Noodles. Broth. Pork. Egg. Wow. If the noodles are the backbone, the tonkotsu ramen broth is the heart and soul.

This is the first step towards a good bowl of tonkotsu ramen

This is a descent into madness. I’m making the tonkotsu ramen broth from scratch. I’m cooking pork belly. I now know the difference between the 7 minute and 7 1/2 minute egg.

I’ve figured out how to make spaghettini into the alkalinated noodles. I’ve replicated the Momofuku pork belly. Got a lesson in their kitchen for that. For real.  The rest of the tonkotsu ramen recipe is here.

Make this tonkotsu broth if you want the best ramen ever.

All this work so I can maybe come close to the $13.00 bowl of ramen at my local ramen joint. Crazy.  Follow me only if you are crazy too. Or you just love ramen as much as I do. Turns out it’s pretty easy. And it’s delicious. Good living.

Making tonkotsu ramen broth is a real eye opener. If you know how to make classic French meat stocks forget everything you know. This broth is cooked at a roiling boil for 12 hours.

A rolling boil. The absolute antithesis of the French technique.

 

The ultimate tonkotsu pork ramen broth at home.

 

Clean bones is the key to a good tonkotsu ramen broth

There’s a lot of Asian technique here that you don’t see in classic western cooking. Blanching the bones is a big one.

And a really good one. Add all the bones to a pot. Bring to a boil. Cook for about 5 minutes. Then dump it all out and rinse the bones.

I’m not a fan of putting flavour down the sink. But in this case it’s genius. Doesn’t make a difference to the end flavour.

But it does get rid of all that muck floating on the surface of the stock. Muck that would get boiled into the stock. Muck that would likely ruin the broth. Did I mention this is genius?

A rolling boil makes a magical broth

But something happens when you cook pork bones at a rolling boil. All the gelatin and fat and goodness comes out of the bones and turns the stock that milky white colour.

If nothing else, this experience was absolutely fascinating. Just make sure you keep adding water to keep the bones submerged.

Don’t use a slow cooker for this. Won’t work. People have tried. They have failed. Read the comments below…

 

You can make tonkotsu ramen that's as the best ramen joint in town.

 

To cover or not to cover?

You can find videos on youtube of Japanese ramen joints making their broth. Huge pots of stock boiling away. They don’t cover their pots. But they have staff in the kitchen full time. 

You can try it uncovered if you are planning to hang out in the kitchen all day. Your call. I don’t though. A loosely covered lid keeps some of the evaporation in check.

You still need to pay attention though. You are maintaining a rolling boil for 12 hours. Covered or not it can boil dry. And that’s a whole world of hurt nobody needs. 

 

Tonkotsu ramen broth close-up from above.

 

No more secrets

This ramen broth is delicious. This part is nailed. Nothing to it really. Just need to follow the recipe. No secrets here. Not anymore. The tonkotsu ramen turned out pretty amazing too.

This is base. The foundation to a great bowl of ramen. You can make just about any tonkotsu style ramen with it. Next step is the tare. That’s what pushes it in different directions. Shio. Shoyu. Miso. Your choice.

Tonkotsu ramen broth. Not the quickest way to make something great. But so totally worth it.

 

The ultimate tonkotsu ramen broth at home.
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4.73 from 18 votes

tonkotsu ramen broth at home

Tonkotsu ramen broth is simply pork bones cooked at a rolling boil for 12 hours. The process extracts all the goodness of the pork and turns the broth creamy white.
Course side
Cuisine Japanese
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 12 hours
Total Time 12 hours 30 minutes
Servings 8 cups
Calories 8kcal
Author romain | glebekitchen

Ingredients

  • 6 lbs pork bones
  • 4 oz white mushrooms sliced
  • 1 onion peeled and halved

Instructions

  • Place the pork bones in a large stock pot and cover with cold water.
  • Bring to a rolling boil over medium high heat. At this point a huge mess of scum will form.
  • Remove from heat. Dump the water and carefully rinse all the bones under cold running water.
  • Return the bones to the stock pot. Cover the bones with cold water and bring to a rolling boil.
  • Add the mushroom and onion and maintain a rolling boil for 12 hours, replenishing the water along the way. You want to keep the bones under water the whole time. It's best to cover the pot for this or you'll be adding water every 30 minutes.
  • After 12 hours, remove the stock from the heat and cool slightly. Remove the bones with a slotted spoon and strain the stock.
  • The stock will keep in the refrigerator for 2-3 days or can be frozen at this point.
  • The broth is flavoured by the tare of your choice. There are two good one's in the tonkotsu ramen recipe.

Nutrition

Serving: 4servings | Calories: 8kcal | Carbohydrates: 1g | Sodium: 1mg | Potassium: 65mg | Vitamin C: 1.3mg | Calcium: 3mg | Iron: 0.1mg

75 thoughts on “tonkotsu ramen broth at home

  1. This broth looks so SO flavorful, Romain! I’m all about tonkotsu broth– it has by far the most flavor. This soup makes a beautiful base for a lot of different things from miso soup to ramen to using it to flavor sauces. I must try this!

  2. Where can I buy pork bones from? And is there any bone in particular? I can easily find beef knuckles / beef bones labeled for soup at the grocery store but I’ve never seen pork bones.

    • Pork neck bones work well and are the cheapest. I’ve only seen pork bones rarely at a regular grocery store. Butchers and asian grocery stores are where I get them. I find them to be cheaper at asian grocery stores so that’s probably your best bet.

    • I go to an ethnic grocery store to get my pork bones (they have a lot of meat and run about $1.69 lb.)or if you have a local butcher ask him to save them for you. My local grocery occasionally butchers up pork and saves me the bones.

    • Find an Asian Market in your area. Any Asian market worth a hill of beans and has a meat dept will have this and much more. I find that they often have the freshest fish as well as the move through stock quickly.

  3. I took a class on how to make restaurant style ramen. The broth was weak without flavor, very disappointing. I have tried a couple other recipes but couldn’t achieve the creamy milkiness of the broth. I tried your recipe and it was a huge success! Yes, it takes forever and I cooked it for almost 20 hours. I am so excited and the results are amazing! My kids keep telling me, mom stop sending us pictures! Hahahaha… Thank you for your recipe and now it’s my base for some wonderful ramen 🙂

    ps.. I sent a picture of my broth to the instructor of the cooking class. Sorry charlie but you should try this. There’s a new chef in town. Muahahahaha….

    • Haha. That’s a great comment. Thanks. I’m glad it worked out for you. Taking forever I think is exactly why it works. There are no shortcuts – although somebody had mentioned they were going to try in a pressure cooker. Enjoy your ramen and send Charlie by way for a quick lesson:-)

  4. So how much water exactly does one need to use? I assume the pot should be left uncovered since you mention to replenish the water? Thanks in advance 🙂

    • Thanks for this. I’ve updated the recipe to clarify. You need to add enough water to cover the bones. That depends on the size of your pot. I also added a recommendation to loosely cover your pot. It doesn’t matter much one way or the other. Uncovered is probably best but loosely covered will cut down on how closely you need to monitor it for evaporation.

      • Thanks for the reply! I successfully created the broth after a looong 12hrs of waiting. My question now is: roughly how much broth should boiling 6lbs of pork neck bones produce? I ended up with about 8 cups but it seemed too thick to me so I watered it down to 10. After putting it in the fridge it turned to thick jelly with a nice layer of fat over it. Should it be diluted more?

        • Chris – sounds like you had a good batch of bones. I typically shoot for 8 cups of broth but that really depends on the bones. I would taste it and then decide whether the flavour was too intense. Nothing wrong with it being jelly in the fridge. In fact, if it didn’t I’d think something went wrong. Enjoy!

  5. Is there anyone Who tried with pressure coocker? I feel it an incredibile waste or energy (gas/electricity) let the water boil for 12 hours 🙁

    • I’ve never tried it with a pressure cooker. No idea if it would work. My understanding of making stock is that liquid doesn’t actually boil in a pressure cooker so when making stock you get a clearer stock. Tonkotsu ramen broth colour comes from boiling so the flavour will probably work but my guess is you won’t get the milky coloured broth.

  6. I tried making this yesterday in a slow cooker on high for 12 hours. The broth tasted very bland… basically a step up from water. Does cooking on a stove in a stock pot really make all the difference?

    • Oh no. If you still have the bones toss the whole thing into a pot and onto the stove and start boiling. This is completely different from making classic stock. You want it to boil. It never occurred to me to warn people off using a slow cooker but doing it that way will most certainly disappoint. Please don’t let your experience here put you off trying to make tonkotsu broth at home. It is truly wonderful stuff when done as written above…

  7. Do you add any salt to the bones? I feel like it might be pretty bland without it…
    So excited to make this today!!

    • Erin, the broth is just the first step. When you make the actual ramen you season with one of the tares. Lots of salt in that so no need to add any to the broth. Hope you love it as much as I do!

  8. No wonder my broths are tasteless! I’ve been using a slow cooker thinking it’s the best way to get the collagen out. When I put the cooker on high, it actually simmers. Apparently that’s not enough and you need a rolling boil, right?

  9. I have a couple pig’s feet in the freezer I was hoping to use. Could I toss them into this broth or should I cook them separately so they don’t over cook?
    Thanks!

    • It’s a rolling boil so they will cook faster than you would want for meltingly tender pig’s feet. They would add great flavour to the broth though. If you want to eat the meat I would say probably not the best idea…

    • I use the common white mushroom found in grocery stores everywhere in North America. You can google Agaricus bisporus to get a picture. If you can’t get them, you could substitute shitake or cremini.

    • If you are referring to fatback, I have done it both ways and like it both ways but I like the cleaner taste when you leave it out a bit better. I find the lighter broth with the richness of the chashu pork works nicely. The little flecks of fat look nice, though but it’s pretty rich if you do it that way.

  10. I followed all your instructions, I’m very satisfied with the outcome…. The only thing I’d change next time is…….to not start the 12 hours at 9pm! Lol. Couldn’t get a drop of sleep. Very worth it though. I posted my outcome on my Instagram. I think I left a link on my comment. Cheers! Have a great day!

  11. If you’ve noticed, the recipes that call for additional pork fat (fatback) tend to involve either a shorter cooking time or constantly skimming scum from the broth as it boils. Blanching and washing the pork bones like Romain suggests removes most of the actual unwanted parts of the meat before you begin cooking properly, so that you don’t need to skim off nearly as much and therefore aren’t taking the fat out with them.
    Combined with the long cooking time, this recipe should extract and retain enough fat from the pork without the need to add extra. Not that you can’t add more if you like it extra mouth-meltingly creamy.

  12. Hi, I going to give this a shot real soon but thought I’d ask. After removing the bones and straining, what do i do with the mushrooms? Will they still have form and get caught in the straining and if so is there something I can do with it?

    Thanks
    Justin

    • The mushrooms and onion will get caught in the strainer. If they have any form left I would salt them and eat them warm. I do that with the onions no matter what type of broth I am making…

  13. Hi Romain,

    Are the bones you use split or whole? I ask because I am wondering about the marrow in the bones. I’ve seen people remove it because it darkens the broth, but it seems like a waste of flavor to me. If you use whole bones I’m guessing the marrow stays put without cleaning.

    Would you recommend using or removing the marrow when making tonkotsu?

    • I take the bones as they come to me from the market. I don’t split them and I don’t clean them beyond the initial step. Whatever marrow is in the bones goes into the pot. I’ve never had a problem but I guess it would depend on exactly what bones you use?

  14. Hey, Thanks for all this above. I did one batch, and I want to do another. I was thinking of roasting the pork bones, (after blanching)as well as adding a roasted chicken carcass. Any thoughts?

    • Never tried roasting pork bones for tonkotsu. I do it for my veal and pork stock. It adds a real depth but also an assertiveness that I’m not sure would work for tonkotsu.

      Chicken is used in ramen broth. Ivan Orkin (Ivan Ramen) does it so it has to be good. It would add another flavour dimension to the stock for sure.

      I use my leftover roast chicken carcasses to make concentrated chicken stock to add that taste and mouthfeel bomb to pan sauces so I can never spare any for ramen broth – but maybe I should…

    • Classic tonkotsu ramen broth can include some chicken for an extra little bit of complexity so yes to the mix. I have never tried doing it with chicken alone so I have no idea what would come out the other end. If you do try, I’d love to hear how it turns out.

  15. When making traditional stock, I’ve always added the onions and other vegetables a couple hours from the end of the boil. Thought being that the vegetables would disintegrate and leave a lot of undesiereable dissolved solids in the stock. Also, I’ve read that onions particularly can impart a burned or bitter flavor if over cooked / over boiled. Given that clarity isn’t an issue here, how do you think about this issue and whether or not boiling the vegetables for the full 12+ hours is necessary, useful, and beneficial or detrimental??
    Thanks!!

    • Interesting. When I make concentrated chicken stock I add the onions at the beginning. I cut the onions in half and leave the skin on (I find the skin imparts a bit of extra depth of colour). I’m probably pushing it as hard as I anyone. Not only am I leaving the onion in for the entire cooking time but I am concentrating the flavours down from a full and large pot of stock to a few cups of intense chicken flavour. If the onion was imparting an off flavour that would make it more pronounced.

      I have never detected a burnt or bitter flavour in the end product and I am pretty sensitive to those two flavours. As far as clarity goes I am always going for flavour over everything else so if my stock is slightly cloudy I can still sleep at night.

      For the tonkotsu broth all classic technique gets thrown out the window anyway. I put the aromatics in early and they get pretty much cooked to death. I haven’t experimented with adding them in later so I really can’t speak to the effects of adding them in at different times along the way. Is it necessary? I don’t know. Is it beneficial or useful? I know it works and I like it. Is it detrimental? I would say no. I would further qualify that by saying I would never knowingly publish a recipe where I thought something was detrimental to the end product.

      • Thanks so much for the response. I appreciate your thoughts and feedback on the matter. Just added all the vegetables to a pot of pork bones that’s been rolling all night. Used onion, mushroom, but also ginger, leek, scallion and garlic. Figure a couple more hours, then I’ll strain it. Hoping for the best. Cheers and thanks again.

  16. So after just a couple of hours rolling boil all of the aromatics were cooked to death. The only things recognizable were the mushrooms and a couple of the tougher onion and leek outside parts. The flavor and texture came out great as well. Tasted a mushroom and there was zero flavor left in it, so I think adding the veg later in the process worked, but probably very little difference vs adding at the start. It was a total pain to strain this stuff though. I think it was mostly the pulpy, former pork, but it instantly clogged every sieve-like thing in my kitchen. Any tips or tricks you’ve found for straining the end product?? Also, do you cool and skim the fat cap, or just stir it in?? There’s kind of a lot of fat here, so if stirred in, I know it’ll taste good, but fear it’ll skim up in the bowl as it cools and not be as picture perfect as what you’ve shown above. Thanks again for a great recipe and your feedback!

      • Sorry – I missed that question. I guess it depends on how much and what meat/collagen is on the bones. When I have something that’s going to be messy to strain I get a big, big bowl. I use the lid of the pot set slightly ajar to catch as much stuff as I can and strain the contents of the pot into the bowl. Then I clean out the pot and strain what’s in the bowl back into the pot.

  17. I’m actually in the middle of making this tonkotsu broth. I started yesterday at 8pm and stopped at 1am because I had to sleep and go to work. I’m planning to start it at a rolling boil again when I come home (to try to achieve 12 hours in total in seperate times). Will that affect anything?

    • I think that will be fine. You don’t want to do it too many times though (break it up too much) because every time the stock goes through the 140F-40F range bacteria flourishes…

  18. Super simple to follow. I’m making it today for my boyfriend with soup bones my dad gave me from his farm. I’m also throwing in a knob of Ginger and a few cloves garlic. Excited to see how this turns out

  19. I am so keen to make this recipe and broth, great for food prep and my boyfriend’s birthday is just around the corner so finding this post could not have come at a better time! I’m wondering if I double the recipe, obviously I will need more water, but would the time needed to bring the stock down to the right consistency / flavour increase or would around 12 hours still be right? Just want to make sure I start early enough in the day 🙂

    Cheers, Mon

    • I’m glad you found it too! I’ve never tried such a big batch but I think it would just be a bigger pot, enough water to cover all the bones and the same amount of time. As always watch it closely so the water level stays up.

  20. I made this recipe on a rainy Sunday yesterday and it was PHENOMINAL. I have been craving good ramen for months… I used to travel out to San Francisco for work and got spoiled by all the great ramen out there. However, back home we don’t have anything even moderately decent. I followed the broth recipe exactly, for the ramen recipe I only used 1 lb of pork belly and halved the Ramen recipe. I also only let the ramen broth boil for 11 hours instead of 12, because it was nearing midnight and I was HUNGRY! Will definitely be making again and again

  21. I have a small carcass leftover from a whole pig roast that I wanted to use to make stock. Do you think this would work to make the tonkotsu broth?

    If so, there’s still some residual meat and skin on the bone. Can I leave the meat and skin scraps on the bone or should I try to remove as much as possible?

    • Did the pig roast impart a smoke flavour? If not, then I would just follow the instructions to clean up the bones and go. Leave the meat on for more flavour. If there is smoke though you may get a different taste. Not sure if it would be good or bad but it would be different for sure.

    • Sure. Any pork bones should get you there. As long as you aren’t using rib bones pulled from your smoker that is. But it would take a lot of rib bones I would think…

  22. I don’t have a 12 hour segment of time to do this. I’m going to try boiling for 6 hours, cooling, refrigerating overnight, and then bringing to a boil the next day for an additional 6 hours. Your thoughts?

    • If you have the room to refrigerate I don’t see any reason this wouldn’t work. I’ve never tried it so I can’t guarantee results.

  23. Hi Romain,

    Thank you for the recipe, I’ve been looking for a nice slow broth to cook. Im not going for hard authenticity but good flavor & collagen, nor do I always have access to pork; do you think this could work with other bones (lamb, ox tail, etc) as well?

    Thank you

    • Are you looking to make a tonkotsu style broth but with ox tail? I’ve never tried the hard rolling boil with beef. I typically go for a long, slow simmer to make a clear broth when I do ox tail – and then use it for pho.

  24. This is probably a silly question-but can bones from already cooked pork be used to make the broth? I am assuming this is the case with the chicken..

    • Not a silly question at all. I’ve never tried it but I would think it would be very close. I do make my chicken stock from cooked chicken bones all the time.

    • I’ve never tried that but it sounds good! Poultry tends to take less time to extract flavour so maybe check after 4-6 hours to see what you think?

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