Tonkotsu Miso Ramen

Miso Ramen Recipe

Most people would say that food and fun are two things that are impossible to overindulge in. Having just returned from an extended weekend in Vegas, I can say that it is not only possible, but rather highly probably in the City of Sin. I arrived home to a cold and gloomy New York early Monday morning with a haggard liver and an extra fold in my gut. After a day in the office, my body screamed “comfort me” while my mind raced with thoughts of butter poached lobster and marbled kobe beef.

I found my solace in a steaming bowl of miso ramen with long chewy noodes swimming alongside crispy bok choy, piquant chili garlic chives and a small mound of sweet pulled pork. This magical bowl of noodle soup coddled my stomach, quieted my mind, while warming me from the inside out.

Ramen is really quite a humble food and yet it takes hours of care to make. It’s rich, complex and unctuous, and yet in Japan, it’s a comfort food much like mac and cheese is here. It’s by no stretch of the imagination healthy, and yet it manages to strike a soul-satisfying truce between protein, vegetables and carbs. Put simply, ramen is a bowlful of contradictions.

Miso Ramen, just one of about a dozen different varieties, originated in the northern Hokkaido region of Japan. It’s a beautiful place, but the winter’s can be harsh so it’s not surprising that this hearty ramen originated there. Traditionally made with fish or poultry stock, I’ve upped the ante with a southern Japanese Tonkotsu stock made with a combination of pork and chicken. I started this one with my Tonkotsu Base (which I now make in large quantities and freeze), then layered on the nutty flavours of miso and tahini. To finish it off, I grated a dried scallop on top of each bowl imbuing each bite with just a bit more umami paired with the briny sweetness of the sea.

One of my favourite toppings for miso ramen is garlic chive mixed with some sesame oil and tobanjan (spicy bean paste), but it’s also very good with buttered corn, as well as some of the more traditional ramen toppings such as pork, menma, and eggs.

Tonkotsu Miso Ramen

2 1/2 C Tonkotsu Base
2 Tbs white miso
1 Tbs tahini
2 tsp sesame seed oil
2 cloves garlic grated or pressed
1/2 C water
2 Tbs pork fat minced (it’s easier to mince when it’s cold)
1 Tbs ground sesame seeds

1/2 batch homemade ramen noodles
toppings: scallions, chashu, garlic chives, cabbage, sweet corn, wood ear, soy sauce egg and/or menma
2 large dry scallops

In a medium saucepan, heat the Tonkotsu Base. Combine the miso, tahini, sesame oil, and garlic in small bowl, then whisk in the water. Pour this mixture into the hot Tonkotsu Base and whisk together. When it is smooth and creamy and there are no chunks left, add the minced pork fat and whisk it in. Taste for salt and add salt to taste. If the broth is too concentrated for your tastes, you can thin it out with water.

Split the cooked noodles between two bowls. Add the ground sesame seeds to the tonkotsu soup and whisk one last time before pouring over the noodles. Top with desired toppings and grate some dried scallop over each bowl using a microplane.

Serve immediately.

  • Haley J.

    This looks amazing – hearty and warming. I love the tonkatsu base for it.

  • Anh

    Bookmarked! I'm attempting this very very soon.

    I know the base is made from pork, which is something my family cannot eat. Do you think an all chicken-based stock would work?

  • norecipes

    If you don't use pork, it won't be tonkotsu (literally means “pork
    bone”), but chicken bones will make a nice lighter stock. I actually
    had a really nice ramen in kyoto that was made with chicken stock and
    had mozzarella cheese in it.

  • Sook

    Oh I am definitely craving this right now. I love miso and I love Japanese food. Looks yummy!

  • Shoshanna

    I will definitely have to try this recipe out! YUM.

  • Manggy

    Hah! It'll be torikotsu, wouldn't it? 😉 Anyway, take back that ramen isn't all that healthy!! Anything that satisfies the soul has to be!

  • Steph

    I never really thought of making the comparison between ramen and mac and cheese… probably because ramen is sooooo much better!

  • Jessie

    I will certainly be trying out your ramen recipe! Real ramen is so much better than the dried blocks I ate by the package when I was a youngun. We just bought some dried scallops a few weeks ago, so this recipe would be the perfect use for them. You didn't rehydrate/cook the scallops first?

  • norecipes

    Nope, they need to be dry to grate them on a microplane like cheese.

  • Barnaby Dorfman

    I had this for the first time at Ippudo during a recent trip to NY, came back to Seattle and spent a whole Sunday making the Tonkotsu base. The leftover half is the most prized posession in my freezer!! Thanks for the post.

  • fujimama

    This sounds absolutely fabulous. I haven't had a good bowl of ramen in FOREVER. Now you're killing me!

  • Chef E

    Ummm…looks so good!

  • zenchef

    This is a beauty. Can you believe i never made tonkotsu? I know, i way behind in japanese food but this really inspires me to work on that tonkotsu base. I still remember the one we had that night in Kyoto at 2 am. I thought it was the perfect food. And i'm not saying that because i was drunk. This one is equally appetizing.

  • Joanne

    This ramen is incredibly more decadent than any I've ever seen or tasted. I love that it has pulled pork in it…and that creamy texture can only mean comfort food.

  • Mark @ Cafe Campana

    Yum, this miso ramen looks very good. I love the thickness of the soup and how it warms you all the way through.

  • christinefreshlocalandbest

    I'm liking the extension of cooler weather this year, it allows me to enjoy ramen in May. I never thought of ramen as a bowlful of contradictions, I always interpreted it as a comprehensive soul food. Either way this looks very good!

  • baobabs

    OMG this looks delicious!!!!! perfect for old bleak days in Beijing

  • TokyoTerrace

    Fabulous bowl of Ramen! I have grown to truly love ramen since moving to Tokyo and it is something I will miss dearly when I return to the United States. My favorite topping is pickled ginger- sounds a bit strange but I love the brightness in contrast to the rich broth and meat. Recipes like yours give me hope that all is not lost when I move away from Japan! I love the addition of tahini and the grated scallop- beautiful!

  • carolynjung

    It's a chilly, drizzly day here today. And a huge bowl of miso ramen would be just the ticket. Marc, do you deliver? 😉

  • Judy

    I loooove Tonkotsu ramen! I miss eating this in Japan. Yours looks SO delicious! I wish I could have a bowl right now on this gloomy Tuesday.

  • Frances

    This looks so delicious! I've been searching for a made-from-scratch ramen recipe for a really long time now! You should look into the movie “The Ramen Girl”- it's a terrible terrible movie to be honest but the idea behind it is cool :)

  • norecipes

    Hahaha yea I loved it. You're right, it's a terrible film, but I could
    totally relate to the ramen scenes and it made me hungry!

  • Trissa

    When I got back from Paris, Madrid and NYC I felt the same way – yes you can eat too much and yes you can have too much fun (ie SHOP!)…. your bowl of ramen looks like a great cure!

  • junkoco

    As a ramen snob who was born in home of tonkotsu ramen… I want, no, I NEED to try your ramen!! Looks delicious!! I haven't made tonkotsu base by myself, but I will make the base with your recipe. Please make a “how to make tonkotsu base” video someday. Thanks for the delicious posting, Marc-san!

  • norecipes

    This stock is actually more Kagoshima style tonkotsu. I've been
    continuing work on making a true Hakata style tonkotsu stock with some
    success, I'll be posting that soon hopefully. Great idea about the

  • Nisrine Merzouki

    Lovely miso recipe!

  • dave

    Great recipe, thanks!!! I can't get enough of this stuff, but never have tried to make anything like this myself (maybe with instant noodles).

  • Margarett_ty24

    its unique

  • Lindachao

    My husband and I used to go to a little restaurant here in Vancouver, BC for a bowl of ramen after skiing all day. That was 5 years ago and since then the restaurant has became a cult favorite and you have to wait at least 1/2hr to get a table. No more! I just tried this recipe out and it is amazing! We can now enjoy this at home and not wait in the cold Vancouver rain. Thank you SO much for sharing! You are a saint!

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  • Keenan Driscoll

    Is it ok to let the broth simmer with miso in it? For several hours? Does that destroy the health benefits of miso?

    Love you homepage. Good job! Arigato guzaimashita! e-homepage!

    • Anonymous

      Hi Keenan, heating miso kills any active cultures, so if you want the health
      benefits, eat it raw (in dressings and such). As for this soup, the miso
      should be added at the very end just before you’re about to serve it.

  • Rayosmond

    I’ll marry you!

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  • juju

    It would be great if you could experiment with a vegetarian ramen broth. Tonkotsu ramen is the only thing stopping me from becoming full vegetarian, and I would love to see an alternative to the meat-based broths. I had a miso-based one with mushrooms that was pretty good….do you know of a recipe?

    • Marc Matsumoto

      It’s obviously not going to taste the same as a broth made with pork marrow, but you can make a good dashi with good quality kombu, daikon peel, dried soy beans, and maitake mushrooms. To make it creamy you can add tahini and soy milk.

  • ATB

    Hello Marc,

    I really excited with Hokkaido style spicy Tonkotsu. Could you share the true Hokkaido style recipe that same taste, flavor like Santouka ramen ? Tks so much.

    • Marc Matsumoto

      Hi ATB, I live in Sapporo and although Santouka is originally from here, it’s not really typical Hokkaido style ramen, the broth is much lighter that some of the places that are popular here now. It’s been a while since I’ve had a bowl of Santouka’s ramen, but I think there’s a lot less collagen in their stock (no trotters) and they put a lot of ground sesame in their soup.

      • ATB

        Thank for your reply, Marc san. One more question. Can you share the way How do you do spicy miso flavor that add to Tonkotsu soup base ? Tks you so much.

        • ATB

          and what is the ingredient to make Shio and Shoyu flavor ?

          • Marc Matsumoto

            Shio means salt and shoyu means soy sauce. Typically most places start with the same broth and then have a mixture of miso with some other ingredients, salt with some other ingredients and soy sauce with some other ingredients that they add to the broth to make the final soup.

          • ATB

            Tks Marc san. I understand Shio means salt. But sometime I order the shio flavor and I saw the ramen chef add to my bowl firstly with the oil for ramen and then the another liquid that same color of soy sauce but it’s not soy sauce. The question I would like to ask you is what kind of salt used and the process to make Shio flavor like a ramen shop ? Can you sharing your Shio flavor recipe ?

            Once more time, I appreciate for your sharing.

          • Marc Matsumoto

            Hi ATB, every ramen shop has their own specific formula that goes into each type of ramen and it’s a closely guarded secret (many ramen shop owners won’t share their sauce recipe with their own employees). Ingredients can include dark soy sauce, light soy sauce, garlic, garlic oil, ginger, caramelized scallions, sesame oil, white pepper, chashu braising liquid, lard, MSG, dashi concentrate, butter, sugar, soy milk, neri-goma (sesame butter), ground sesame seeds, scallop powder, scallop concentrate, oyster sauce, chili oil, pork stock concentrate, vinegar, etc… I’m more of a fan of tonkotsu and miso style ramen which tend to be more kotteri (rich), so I’ve never been a big fan of Shio or Shoyu which are generally more assari(light).

        • Marc Matsumoto

          There are a number of ways you can make ramen spicy such as adding chili powder (gochugaru works well), or chili paste (such as doubanjiang). Check out this post for a spicy ramen:

  • ATB

    Hi Marc san,

    The keyword that used in ramen shop, Nankotsu , what does it mean ? Is it chicken bone ? or cartilage of chicken ? or pork bone ?

    • Marc Matsumoto

      Nankotsu simply means cartilage.

  • banana

    i want to thank you for this. i almost gave up making ramen as many requires 2 days preparation!

  • superelastic

    Hi Marc – When I made the Chashu and refrigerated the retained braising liquid, there was a creamy smooth layer of white fat on top, almost like butter. My “cooking instinct” is telling me to omit the pork fat in the recipe above, and instead use the fat from the braise liquid. Is that a bad idea? I suspect it would emulsify much more readily. I should mention that I used pork belly for the chashu, could not get the beautiful pork cheek that you used.

    • Marc Matsumoto

      Hi superelastic, the fat on top of the chashu would certainly work, but rendered fat that’s been cooked for a long time has a different taste than fresh fat. I know it sounds strange, but the fresh fat has a creamier taste whereas the rendered fat tastes like oil (plus some of the aromatics from the chashu). That’s why I use the fatback.

  • Herr Yamamoto

    Makes it 1 or 2 bowls of miso ramen?

    • Marc Matsumoto

      Should make 2 bowls.

      • Herr Yamamoto

        thanks. Could it also work with red miso?

        • Marc Matsumoto

          Will give you a very different flavor profile, but yes in the sense that you could make this with soy sauce, or even just salt.


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