Ha! I’m back. And I have a new co-conspirator.
Eleanor joined on with Team Christensen in July, and thus far has been a largely willing participant on all of our adventures. We want to go to the coast? She’s game. Pops wants to watch the Dodgers? She’ll hang out. Time to cook a Nation Plate? She’ll sit and watch.
Needless to say, though, her impending arrival was a major drag on this project. I have one blog in the queue – I cooked Latvia’s dish in May – but that’s all I’ve done on this blog since early April.
There was drywall to hang, lighting to install, cribs to assemble. There was a pregnant wife to cook for. And then there was a baby.
But by mid-August, it was time to get back on the wagon with one of the most daunting meals of the project – ramen from Japan. Hundreds of hours have been burned on trying to make the perfect bowl of tonkotsu ramen.
And what if I get it wrong? I don’t very well want to look back and say I spent a day working on a meal that turned out like crap.
Well, I can’t eat if nobody cooks. So I had to finally dive in on this one, and try to make it go.
The first step was finding what meal to cook. I asked Portland novelist and Japanese culture scholar Ben Dupree, a fellow Dodger fan here in the Doug fir forest, what I should cook for a Japanese dish. He guided me toward tonkotsu, the pork broth base of ramen.
So then I had to find the recipe. As stated above, there are plenty of websites that have tackled tonkotsu. Using them, I came up with my own approach.
I went to Portland’s finest pig butcher, Tails & Trotters, to get the bones and feet for the base. They were baked, cleaned and then put into a giant stock pot… for 18 hours.
The end result, after following the recipe below, was a good entree into the effort. It was not perfect, and some changes I’d make are incorporated into what I have for you below.
But it was worth the 18 hours. Oh, it was worth it. The house smelled rich and spectacular, the broth was creamy, the noodles (store bought, because I didn’t want to go crazy) a good medium for the other flavors.
Tonkotsu broth 🇯🇵
- One pork femur
- 3 pounds mixed pork bones, coarsely crushed in fist-sized chunks
- Two trotters
- 2 onions
- 1 carrot
- 18 shiitake mushrooms
- 1/4 cup shoyu
- Take the bones and spread them on a lined baking sheet. Bake at 350º for one hour.
- Place the bones in a stock pot, cover with water. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a heavy simmer for one hour. Drain and cool.
- Clean the bones of all dark spots, blood, etc. Some meat is OK.
- Place the bones in the stock pot with remaining ingredients. Add water and cover by 4 inches.
- Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer at medium-low for as long as 24 hours.
- Strain twice before using. Serve with wheat noodles. Garnishes include a soft-boiled egg, scallions, wood ear mushrooms, fresh corn and bean sprouts.