Milky Pork Soup with Noodles
Tonkotsu-Ramen is an adventure – less because of the porky ingredients it contains than because of the time it requires to cook the milky extract from the bones and the meat: the genesis of the soup can take no less than 24 hours. It might be in order to remember that during this time-span, the earth makes one full revolution on its axis. That's almost a biblical dimensi
Tonkotsu-Ramen is a speciality that is eaten with the greatest relish on Japan's southern-most island of Kyūshū – Tonkotsu generally means «pork bones». The soup ranges in colour from pearly white to pale brown, has a creamy consistency and a strong, porky aroma. Whether the soup should cook for 24 hours or for six or just three, as some say, is a matter of debate – as well as the question of the intensity with which the soup should bubble. (General observations on the subject of cooking time and ground rules for the preparation of meat can be found in the chapter «Beef Stock».) Fantasy is allowed to run riot as regards the ingredients of garniture: pork stomach often forms the meat base of the soup, to which bean sprouts or a bit of cooked gherkin are added – as well as some garlic, freshly grated or roasted, sesame, sesame oil, pepper, ginger and, occasionally, candied ginger (Beni shōga) etc.
When Hektor Maille tasted Tonkotsu-Ramen for the first time in a noodle bar in the east of Gaien Higashi Dōri, he was so captivated by the aroma of the soup that he immediately requested Kyuri, his Japanese-descent instructress in matters of self-defence, to provide him with guidelines for the preparation of the soup. Kyuri sent him a recipe that was originally from one of her friends who was of Osaka-descent and ran a noodle bar called «Ramen Bugi» in Sydney. The recipe provided here has been adapted according to the ingredients available in middle Europe – which is also the reason that we have christened the soup Tonkotsu-Ramen «Bugi». The soup is not a diet food, but it has a fantastic, deeply earthy aroma all its own.
A part from this time-intensive recipe for Tonkotsu-Ramen we are providing on these pages a second recipe as an alternative that can be prepared far more quickly: Noodle Soup «Kyuri» comes from the recipe collection of Hektor Maille's martial arts teacher and is one of the dishes that the secret agent is fond of cooking for himself. This soup comes from Chitwouj.
1 kg pork bones
500 g pork trotters
1 pork tail
300 g chicken carcasses (e.g. from a roast chicken you had the day before)
2 medium sized onions
1 bulb garlic
2 tablespoons rapeseed oil
100 g ginger, cleaned (but not pealed) and sliced
poss. 1 carrot, cleaned and sliced
poss. 1 little leek, cleaned and sliced
As a tasty alternative after having cooked the pork belly in the soup you can simmer it for about 20 minutes in some soy sauce, Mirin and Sake together with some pieces of ginger, then chop it and add it to the soup.
More about the travel adventure of Secret Agent Hektor Maille:
Japanese restaurants have a few surprises ready for their guests – some are just a tad bizarre, others are, more than anything else, unaffordable. Those who, like Hektor Maille, have stretched their expense account to the hilt, would do well to eat at sushi or noodle bars. Surprising aromas can be found to waft out of a soup bowl in such eating places too:
First Publication: 20-5-2010
Modifications: 27-7-2010, 26-1-2011, 19-6-2011, 15-11-2011, 16-12-2011