Momofuku Ramen Broth

Good broth is the key to good ramen. It should be sweet, salty and robust. I was pretty excited about making the broth, which was a good thing because it ended up taking over 8 and a half hours to finish.

konbu in big pot

Momofuku ramen broth is made with konbu, shiitake mushrooms, chicken, pork, bacon, and taré. I started by putting two pieces of konbu into my biggest pot. With the seaweed happily expanding, I tossed in some dried shiitakes. I love shiitakes, fresh or dried. They have a delicious earthy umami smell, but not everyone agrees. Some people like the taste but can’t stand the smell, like Mike. Isn’t that just like how people don’t like liver but love foie gras or paté? Hello, it’s all liver! Or in this case, all mushrooms!

dried shiitakes

Speaking of mushrooms, I hope you like them because with this recipe, you’re going to end up with a lot of “spent” ingredients that were just used for flavour. Strain out the mushrooms and add your chicken to the pot to simmer until the meat pulls away from the bones with ease.

leftover cooked chicken in top chef glad ware

The chicken was nice and tender with a clean flavour, so I saved it. It doesn’t mention what’s done with the leftover chicken in the book, but I didn’t want to throw away 4 pounds of chicken meat!

After straining out the chicken, some meaty pork bones are roasted and added to the broth. This is also when you add your bacon for some smoky pig flavour. The bacon is strained out after 45 minutes. I didn’t know what to do with the boiled bacon so I threw it away even though it made me sad inside. I know, I know, I threw away the bacon and kept the chicken. I’m crazy like that. But trust me, boiled bacon is not a good thing. Looking back, I should have tried to crisp it up and eat it for a snack.

After all that adding and straining, it’s simmer for another 7 hours with the pork bones still in the stock. For the last little bit, add the vegetables and then strain those out too. Finally, success!

Well…no. There was one little problem: The recipe yield was 2 quarts, but somehow I only ended up with a little over 1. The simple solution? Add more water. I was worried that adding water would make the broth less porky, but it turns out I just concentrated the broth. It was kind of a “duh” moment, because the cookbook actually suggests boiling it down for space-saving purposes.

taré

Anyway, I strained it yet again, added some more water, seasoned with the taré, and took a quick taste: success! It was smoky, porky, and delicious. There was a definite luxurious feel to it, possibly because of the copious amounts of meat used. Worth it? Oh yes.

13 Comments add yours

  1. Great site! It’s great to see some of the techniques that didn’t make the cut as photos in the actual book. The “spent” bacon issue also really bothered me so I did the following with it: 1) cut the slab into 4 manageable chunks 2) roasted it in a 450 degree oven for 15 minutes 3) poured off the rendered fat 4) glazed the chunks with a little hoisin thinned with a splash of sake and 5) continued roasting for 10ish minutes. I sliced it thinly and substituted it for the pork belly and pulled pork Chang calls for. This actually turned out amazingly well. Since it was simmered, the smokiness of the bacon was attenuated and blended very nicely with the broth and braised collard greens in my noodles.

    Pat,
    That sounds like a great way to use the bacon. It’s such a shame to throw bacon away so your hoisin sake bacon sound delicious. Did you take any pictures? What did you end up doing with the chicken?

    I didn’t take any pictures at the time but I’ve got about 8 quarts of broth and 2 lbs of glazed bacon in the freezer. I’ll send you some next time I put a bowl of ramen together. I plan to do some more experimentation on the vegetable side of things since I like my ramen to be a complete fully balanced meal in a bowl.

    As for the chicken, I was relatively simple and just made chicken salad and quesadillas.

    By the way, what is the origin of your bacon waffle? Is that a common preparation in Canada or just something you made up?

    Pat,
    Awesome! The best part of making the broth is all the leftovers you have afterward. I’d love to see some pictures when you put your bowl of ramen together.

    The bacon waffle is not Canadian. I saw Alton Brown cook bacon in a waffle iron once and I thought I’d try to actually make a waffle shape. There’s a great blog, waffleizer.com where 30 things are waffled. If you like waffles, you should check it out.

    steph on March 18th, 2010 at 11:44 am
    Pat on March 18th, 2010 at 8:24 am
    steph on February 22nd, 2010 at 1:51 pm
  2. as much as I liked this post, your comments after…even better!

  3. thanks for the website. did you half the recipe? i was surprised when you said the recipe only yielded 2 quarts. I ended up with a lot more.

    did you reduce the stock down at all? I know when I made it, I reduced it down quite a bit but added more water to it later on to not be as strong for the broth.

    Mike on October 17th, 2010 at 1:44 pm
  4. I really need your help here. In the Momofuku cookbook, Chang mentioned that the dashi is an essential ingredients for ramen broth. However, I don’t see he calls for any (Bacon) dashi for his Ramen broth. He only calls for (Benton’s) smoked bacon, but I don’t think Chang mentioned to make the bacon into dashi for the broth. Am I missing something?

  5. This sounds soooo good that I will try it soon.
    As for the bacon, reuse it in Bean Soup to augment ham hocks or shanks. Diced small, boiled bacon actually is a tasty addition to the soup.
    I saw an interesting take on ramen by a celebrity chef on a late night show. Instead of actual ramen noodles, he pureed shrimp and made ‘noodles’ out of them. He had a home-made noodle extruder that squirted the noodles into the hot broth. I missed his recipe and I worked on a molecular gastronomy solution. I think that 3.2 grams of Agar Agar for 200 grams of seasoned, cooked shrimp puree mixed with one to two ounces of water and heated would give the correct consistency. Using a syringe, fill a 3′ long, 1/4″ plastic tube with the hot puree/Agar Agar and put it in the tube, then seal both ends of the tube (Golf tees work well) and dunk the tube in ice water to set it. You now have meaty noodles for a further culinary experience.

    Coach Dan Cox, PhD on March 22, 2014 at 1:04 am
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