I am a noodle-head. It is a soul-warming, comfort food. That said, I am new to the joys of really good Japanese ramen. To get a glimpse of ramen-mania, watch Tampopo–a true noodle western film released in 1985–so awesome! I didn’t *fully* get it until I actually tasted good Japanese ramen, thanks to Toronto’s latest foodie craze. Some high quality, serious Japanese ramen places have popped up here in recent years. I had been to a few, and Jeff and I went to one of the more recently opened places that was highly recommended by our Japanese friend, Miki. At Sansotei (http://www.sansotei.com), we had the BEST ramen we have ever tasted to date. Maybe we will have better somewhere else, sometime in the future… but for now, this is it. Never was a broth so creamy (without actual cream), so full tasting and flavourful. I went on a quest to replicate it!
Marc Matsumoto offers a recipe that appeared to reveal the secrets of making good tonkotsu ramen, including the condiments and garnishes (http://norecipes.com/blog/tonkotsu-ramen-recipe).
I have made two attempts at this broth recipe, and each time, I messed up on some small detail by omitting or substituting an ingredient. On the first attempt, I had no chicken bones and I used pork ribs instead of pork bones. The broth was thin-tasting, not full, as he warned. The second time, I used pork spine bones. It was still not as ‘creamy’ as sansotei’s broth, possibly due to the lack of marrow (as is found in leg bones) and not enough simmering action to emulsify the fats in the stock. The chasu recipe, mayu and marinated eggs were relatively easy to get right, and I found a place to get fresh ramen noodles (Sanko on Queen Street).
While my ramen was pretty good, it wasn’t mind-blowing like Sansotei’s. Next time, I will source out fresh pork leg bones and follow Marc’s recipe EXACTLY to get to the bottom of a perfect bowl of ramen… there may be other secrets to unlock here. The journey continues!