I knew making ramen broth wouldn’t be easy, especially since I’ve made Pho before, and that takes a lot of invested time and effort, but this seemed like it went on forever!! Probably, also, b/c I made homemade tare, which is basically Japanese barbecue sauce.  I used it to to flavor the ramen broth, as directed by the Momofuku cookbook.  Dedicate a whole day to making this, you don’t have to start at 5am in the morning, but you don’t want to eat it at 12am, either, so allot about 8 – 9 hours for this.  There are several components involved

Ramen Broth [makes 5 quarts]

  • Two 3x6in pieces of Konbu
  • 6 quarts water
  • 2 cups dried shiitakes, rinsed
  • 4lbs of chicken, either a whole bird or legs
  • 5lbs meaty pork bones
  • 1lb smokey bacon
  • 1 bunch scallions
  • 1 medium onion, cut in half
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
  • Tare (see below for recipe), or kosher salt, soy sauce, and mirin
  1. Rinse the konbu under running water, then combine it with the water in an 8-quart stockpot.  Bring the water to a simmer over high heat and turn off the heat.  Let steep for 10 mins.
  2. Remove the konbu from the pot and add the shiitakes.  Turn the heat back up to high and bring the water to a boil, then turn the heat down so the liquid simmers gently.  Simmer for 30 minutes, until the mushrooms are plump and rehydrated and have lent the broth their color and aroma.
  3. Heat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  4. Remove the mushrooms from the pot with a slotted spoon.  Add the chicken to the pot.  Keep the liquid at a gently simmer.  Skim and discard any froth, foam, or fat that rises to the surface of the broth while the chicken is simmering, and replenish the water as necessary to keep the chicken covered.  After about 1 hour, test the chicken: the meat should pull away from the bones easily.  If it doesn’t, simmer until that’s the case and then remove the chicken from the pot with a slotted spoon.
  5. While the chicken is simmering, put the pork bones on a baking sheet or in a roasting pan and slide them into the oven to brown for an hour; turn the over after about 30 minutes to ensure even browning
  6. Remove the chicken from the pot and add the roasted bones to the broth, along with the bacon.  Adjust the heat as necessary to keep the both at a steady simmer; skim the scum and replenish the water as needed.  After 45 minutes, fish out the bacon and discard it.  Then gently simmer the pork bones for 6 to 7 hours – as much time as your schedule allows.  Stop adding water to replenish the pot after hour 5 or so.
  7. add the scallions, onion, and carrots to the pot and simmer for the final 45 minutes
  8. Remove and discard the spent bones and vegetables.  Pass the broth through a strainer lined with cheesecloth. [At this point, if you want to save for later use you can reduce by half on the stove and portion the concentrated broth out into containers.  It keeps for a couple days in the fridge or a few months in the freezer.  When you want to use, dilute it with equal parts of water and reheat it on the stove].
  9. Finish the broth by seasoning it to taste with tare.  If you don’t have tare, you can use kosher salt, soy sauce, and mirin.  If you have tare, start with seasoning the broth with 2 or 3 tablespoons tare per quart of broth. I don’t prefer it too salty, but as it says in the Momofuku cookbook, “Under-seasoned broth is a crime”.

Tare [makes about 2.4 cups]

  • 2 to 3 chicken backs, or the bones and their immediately attendant flesh and skin reserved from butchering 1 chicken
  • 1 cup sake
  • 1 cup mirin
  • 2 cups light soy sauce
  • freshly ground black pepper
  1. Heat oven to 450 degrees F
  2. Cut chicken back into 3 pieces, split rib cages in half and separate thigh from leg bones. (More surface area = more browning area = deeper better flavor, as long as you don’t burn the bones.)
  3. Spread the bones out in a wide (12 to 14-inch) ovenproof saute pan or skillet and put it in the oven for 45 minutes to 1 hour: check on the bones after about 40 minutes to make sure they’re just browning, not burning.  You want deeply browned bones, and you want the fond – the fatty liquid carmelizing on the bottom of the pan – to be very dark but not blackened.  (A fleck of black here and there, or at the edges of the pool, is fine, but charred fond is useless; it will only add bitterness and should be discarded.)  Watch as the bones color, and pull them out when they’re perfectly browned.
  4. When the bones are browned, remove the pan from the oven and put it on a stove top.  Pour a splash of the sake onto the pan and put the pan over a burner and turn the heat to medium-high.  Once the sake starts to bubble, scrape the fond up off the bottom of the pan.
  5. Once the fond is free from the bottom of the pan, add the remaining sake, mirin, and soy to the pan and turn the heat under it to high.  Bring the liquid to a boil, then lower the heat so that it barely simmers.  Cook for 1 hour.  It will reduce somewhat, the flavors will meld, and the tare will thicken ever so slightly.
  6. Strain the bones out of the tare and season the liquid with 5 or 6 turns of black pepper.  The tare can be used right away or cooled and then stored, covered in the refrigerator for 3 or 4 days.
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