By Noel Christmas

If you haven't had a bowl of good, non-instant ramen, you need to do something about that. Seriously—you've got to taste some of this:

Easy Weeknight Tonkotsu Ramen

The problem? The broth is not so easy to make at home.

We're talking "tonkotsu" broth here, which is a deep, rich, pork-based broth. Normally, making this at home is 2-day affair that requires constant attention. Serious Eats has an amazing—and authentic—recipe for this broth, but it's very time-consuming, and not particularly easy. It is the best recipe out there, if you want (and have time to make) "the real thing," though.

But what I wanted to know is this: can you make a relatively authentic ramen that tastes great, uses common pantry ingredients, and cooks up in just one regular weeknight.

The answer? An absolute yes.

What You Need

Mise en Place for Weeknight Tonkotsu Ramen
  • Pork. I used bone-in blade steaks, as they're well-marbled (fat=flavor) and the bone adds even more flavor to the stock.
  • Chicken broth. You've probably got some in your pantry already. I use the low-sodium version.
  • Mushrooms and anchovy paste. These two items aren't exactly usual, but they both provide an extra kick of "umami," which is that undeniably savory, meaty taste.
  • Mirepoix. There's nothing super-authentic about celery, carrot, and onion. But they're reliable flavor boosters for any soup, so I used them.

The Recipe:

Easy Weeknight Ramen Broth

  • 1 Pork Blade Steak
  • 8-9 Crimini Mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 tbsp Vegetable Oil
  • 1/3 Cup Each of Diced Onion, Carrot, and Celery (mirepoix)
  • 1/2 tsp Anchovy Paste
  • 32 ounces Low-Sodium Chicken Broth
  • Salt and Pepper

Directions:

  1. Heat a wide stock pot over medium heat; Add salt and pepper to the pork steak and place in the hot oil. Add mushrooms. There's no need for a high-sear in this case. You want the pork and mushrooms to release their liquid for the stock, so too high of heat would just evaporate all your hard work!
  2. When nicely browned, remove the pork and mushrooms with tongs, slice or shred, and set aside, reserving the bone from the pork.
  3. Add the mirepoix, salt, pepper, anchovy paste, and the reserved pork bone. Stir to incorporate all the browned bits from the bottom of the pan ("deglazing"), and sweat the vegetables (cook them until well softened and most of their liquid has come out)
  4. Add the stock, slowly at first, making sure all the everything is incorporated.
  5. Keep at a low simmer for 60-90 minutes. Remove the pork bone. You could strain the broth, but since it's an easy weeknight dinner, that's not really necessary.

Now all you need are the reserved pork and mushrooms, along with some noodles. Since this is about taste, not authenticity, use whatever noodles you want—dried, fresh, plain old spaghetti, or even rice noodles. Add a hard-boiled egg, chili sauce (yes, Sriracha is justifiably wonderful), and any other ingredients you want. Just make it delicious.

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