What is Hakata tonkotsu ramen and why it is so popular?
Ramen has been a big part of Japanese cuisines, and the word now is as famous as sushi. And, the question what is your most favorite type of ramen? may get 5 out of 10 for tonkotsu, depending on whom you’re asking it. Tonkotsu ramen, or pork-bone-soup ramen has been the most popular type of ramen across the world. Especially the soup has been so popular that it’s made its way into other Japanese noodle cuisines, such as udon. Typically, tonkotsu soup is creamy, thick, and flavorful but with less seasoning than other types of soups. And Hakata is the name of a city in Kyushu Island where this ramen type was originated. There are actually many variations of tonkotsu ramen found across this Island. And Hakata is just one of them. But why is it so popular, and many refer Hakata ramen as equivalent to tonkotsu ramen?
Famous Hakata tonkotsu ramen shops
There are several ramen specialty shop brands that were originated in Kyushu Island and made into global brands. And there are a few of them that opened its shops across the world. In the process, these Hakata ramen shop brands made this particular type of tonkotsu ramen very popular among many across the world. Among them are Ippudo, Ichiran, and Ikkosha to name a few. These brands took big bets on their unique ramen and opened business in regions where not many tasted their ramen. Ippudo now operates in 15 countries outside Japan. Ikkosha is running its restaurants in 10 countries ouside Japan. And Ichiran operates 3. In different countries, they diversify their offerings, but many go visit their shops for their signature bowls of Hakata tonkotsu ramen. That is what they are known for, and what many love them for.
Hakata ramen is an unique tonkotsu ramen
In this map of Kyushu Island, there are several prefectures that have varying types of tonkotsu ramen. And the city of Hakata (within Fukuoka prefecture) offers a unique bowl of tonkotsu ramen. The soup itself is unique in that it’s made of various parts of pork bones, including pork trotters, head, and backfat. They help create cloudy stock, which collagens from these ingredients create when cooked at a high heat for long hours. What is distinctive about tonkotsu stock is the smell. And depending on how the soup is cooked, the smell is strong and can be unpleasant. But Yamato Ramen School teaches a method to keep this tonkotsu smell down. The uniqueness also comes from the noodles, which are thin and hard. These noodles are made as hard as possible using a special ramen noodle machine. Processing this hard dough into noodles breaks regular noodle machine like pasta machine.
How can you go about crafting your own Hakata Tonkotsu ramen? We suggest that you try as many Hakata ramen as you can first to see which one is your favorite. There are varying soup densities. Noodle sizes and textures. Different toppings. Once you know your favorite, would you like to modify some elements? Do you want the soup density to be lighter or thicker? Would you prefer thinner and harder noodles? You can start from your favorite and modify it to make it even better. This is easily done with Digital Cooking Method. Stock density, salinity level, flavors, noodle texture, noodle size, toppings. These are the variables you can control when making your own. How many servings do you want to sell in one day? The answer to this question helps you plan how much of each component you need to prepare in advance. Digital Cooking Method helps you plan, schedule, and manage your production operations.
Create and adjust your ramen recipes to reach your ideal Hakata Tonkotsu Ramen
At Yamato ramen School, we make everything from scratch. Every component, base stocks, motodare, flavored oils, noodles, toppings, etc. Having a solid recipe for each component, we also know how to make adjustments to each. Depending on what Hakata ramen you want to craft, we can help you start with one recipe and modify certain components to reach your ideal recipe. Typically, Hakata tonkotsu soup consists of thick base stocks made of pork head, trotters, backfat, and garlic. Different versions call for another part of pork to be blended. But this is the basic. The motodare is made of mixture of soy sauce and salt sauces (infused with various seafoods), etc. The amount of motodare used is much lower than other types of ramen soups because the thickness of base stocks gives sufficient tastes and flavors.
Use of right flavor oils make great impact on Hakata Ramen
The part of Hakata ramen soup is the famous black oil. Burnt garlic oil and backfat garlic oil. These oils add great impact and finish on the tonkotsu soup. The garlic flavors and pork fat flavors added on the soup surface completes the soup. Especially the burnt garlic oil adds nice black dots on the white creamy soup.
Noodles are thin, usually cut in a range of 1.3mm to 1.1mm (width). As they are thin, they cook fast and go soft fast. To retain the unique noodle texture (hard and springy), we usually add the following, egg white and gluten. They keep the noodle texture in hot soup for a while, but you’d still want to encourage your customers to finish the noodles as fast as they can. And you can tell them to go for another serving of noodles. This is called, “kaedama”, or additional serving of noodles. Another serving of cooked noodles would be added to the bowl with the same soup.
Crafting your own Hakata Tonkotsu ramen
Crafting your own Hakata ramen starts with picking your favorite one, probably offered at an existing ramen specialty shop. And thinking of how you want to modify each variable, such as soup density, flavors, salinity level, noodle textures, noodle size, toppings, etc. shapes your own version. Because the universe of ramen is vast and if you are not familiar, you should have a starting point, which helps you shortcut many hours, possibly months of trials and errors. That is why we ask each student enrolling to our ramen school, about details of what type(s) of ramen they want to develop in preliminary surveys.
You can start learning and crafting your own Hakata Tonkotsu ramen from scratch today at our Online Ramen School.