In my opinion, tonkotsu is the perfect ramen type: savory flavor, thick and smooth texture. A perfect comfort food!
To those who may watch my process for crafting a batch of tonkotsu, they may feel that I’m being too “extra” even by home-cook standards. Considering that some areas in Japan have 2 or 3 ramen-ya within a mile or two radius, being extra isn’t even enough. Some of these shops have had strong customer retention for years and only specialize in only one type of ramen. Places in Fukuoka that specialize in tonkotsu have set themselves apart from the competition.
Being the relative novice that I am, I have only begun to scratch the surface in how to better my ramen to be on the path to something amazing. What I have read, heard, and also believe to be true is that most of what makes a tonkotsu great, relies on if the pork bones are optimally prepared and the fat utilized.
I will be hosting my first Japanese Ramen pop-up for the community on February 2, 2019. Finally, I will have a chance to showcase my knowledge of ramen broth crafting, principles of production and presentation.
Despite working in foodservice for years, my experience has been working in small, independently-ran shops. “Home-cooking” is the root of my experience. For this reason, the taste of delicious and comforting ramen that you find at obscure “Mom and Pop shops” in Japan is the source of my passion. I will be cooking and hosting my pop-ups at various commercial kitchens that will host me.
I seek to create an experience when tasting the broths of my ramen bowls which is why I prefer to top mine with no more than 2 or 3 vegetables/toppings.
The challenge: Being of Black American ethnicity, having never left the country and crafting Japanese ramen, how do I re-create that experience? After 2 years and counting of speaking with those that have traveled to Japan or who are natives about their experiences, I cross-referenced key notes of interest. In the meantime, I have repeatedly tried, sampled, re-tried, and revised my recipes. There is no room in the ramen world for arrogance and ignorance. You have to be open to criticism, and remain humble.
At this point, I feel that I am finally ready to show the world my take on Japanese ramen: I want guests to join me and to take a “trip through the sip”.
Until recently, I really hated shio ramen and resented the fact that I would need to bring the quality of it up to par with the other traditional flavors like my beloved tonkotsu. Granted, many shops in Japan specialize in one or two flavors that may choose to exclude the shio variety.
However, this is not Japan, and here in the US, Americans want variety. As a student of industrial engineering, we often studied quality concepts (many of which originated from Japan, by the way). One concept was the notion that to strive for “higher quality”, you would likely have to sacrifice variety. Variation leads to a variance of outcomes and high variance decreases the quality in a product or system. Therefore, in order to confidently offer at least 4 or 5 flavors for my Japanese Ramen Dinner Parties or even a ramen-ya one day, I need to work on bringing my shio ramen up to my personal standard at least.
An effort to instill consistency with *all* of the flavors that I craft (including the shio flavor) would mean that there would be less deviation between flavors. As a result, this would raise the overall quality of the ramen that I craft. Taking my least favorite flavor of ramen, then working and researching how to improve upon it, I have found a new love and respect for shio. The sea salt is the star and it certainly shines, but the aromatics and other base vegetables also blend harmoniously in a complex, yet simple fashion. ✌😎
Shio torikotsu topped with chicken breast, finely chopped leeks, and shungiku
We’re expecting a chance of snow this week 😵❄
I’ll be keeping warm with this pork and chicken miso ramen!
I love pork-based stocks, but adding chicken cuts really adds an addictive layer of complexity and depth of flavor.
The stock was flavored with an awase miso tare (miso, hon mirin, sesame oil sake, and other not pictured aromatics were added!). The broth was finally topped with boiled cabbage, menma, bean sprouts, kamaboko, braised chicken, and green onion. 🍲🍥🍶✌