Somehow, in all of the weird ramen I’ve been making, I have not posted a tsukemen recipe before. But y’all have been asking for it. And I finally have a good one. So here’s a rendition.
Now, I should clarify. Tsukemen can exist in a crazy variety. And it would be impossible for me to break that down in this post. Some tsukemen has tonkotsu, fish powder, all sorts of ingredients. Today, we’ll be focusing on:
Taishoken-era chintan dipping broth.
The noodles and broth in this recipe are definitely more modern, but they pay homage to the original. Taishoken is the inventor of the dish, but their noodles are similar in a lot of ways to standard ramen noodles, so the recipe is atypical in that regard. Further, the broth isn’t quiiiite like Taishoken, I think it has more refinement and is cleaner overall. Still, it good tho. Let’s break it down.
The noodles use a bit of whole wheat flour in addition to bread flour. This whole wheat accomplishes a few things:
Adds more wheat flavor. A lot of the flavor of wheat is captured in the bran and germ, rather than the clean endosperm. In normal white flour, this bran and germ is excluded, resulting in a clean, simple profile that is versatile in a host of cooking applications. But for wheat flavor, sometimes it’s good to add a bit of the brown stuff. We’re not looking for full-on whole wheat noodles, but this will add flavor no double.
Changes the color/appearance: The bran and germ contain the majority of the mineral content in the wheat berry. In flour milling, this mineral content is called “ash,” and higher ash flours tend to have a browner hue. For this tsukemen, I wanted to increase the ash content of the dry ingredients slightly, just from a pure visual perspective. Rather than searching for high ash flour, this move gets you pretty close (and some nice flecks too).
Reduces some gluten formation. Because tsukemen noodles are so thick, and so hydrated, you actually don’t want a large amount of gluten. Developing the gluten too much will cause the noodles to be extremely, unpleasantly chewy, and require extensive cooking time.
Here’s the recipe and steps. Processing method is the same as other recipes I’ve posted recently, but is provided for clarity.
Per portion: measure everything by weight
95g King Arthur bread flour (12.7% protein by weight)
5g whole wheat All Purpose Flour
1 g egg white powder (optional)
42 g water
1 g salt
1 g baked soda or powdered kansui (more info on baked soda here) (For me, I used 30% Potassium carbonate and 70% sodium carbonate, aka baked soda, here. But all baked soda will work quite well)
Add kansui powder and salt to the water, dissolve completely. I like to add one at a time, these alkaline salts actually release a small amount of heat when hitting the water and will form small chemical bonds to themselves if not added gradually, which results in it clumping up. Go slowly, stir constantly until clear. This will take awhile, but eventually things will work out.
In a standing mixer with a paddle attachment, add your flours and egg white powder. Turn the mixer to “stir” and run for 30 seconds.
While running the mixer on stir, add two thirds of your water mixture slowly, in an even stream. Let the mixer stir for 3 minutes.
Add in the remaining water mixture with the mixer running, run for another minute, until small clumps begin to form.
Remove the bowl from the mixer. Cover, and let this rest for at least 30 minutes, but an hour is fine. This gives the flour granules time to fully absorb the water and alkaline salts, rests some gluten (which, believe it or not, you developed while mixing this dough) and allows some trapped air in the dough balls to escape, which is called “degassing.” An air free starch gel results in better texture. Don’t skip this.
Knead it. The hardest part of noodles, hands down. Currently I use an electric pasta machine to sheet the dough, going through the largest setting, then the 2nd, then the 3rd. I then take the dough and fold it, sheeting under the 2nd widest setting, then fold it again and sheet it under the widest setting. I then repeat this again, until the sheet is quite smooth and not ragged. You'll notice interesting horizontal lines running along the length of your dough if you do the folding right, suggesting your gluten strands are running the length of your dough. This is good; it will help with texture of the noodle. If sheeting with a machine isn’t an option for you, I used to throw the mix into a plastic bag and step on it repeatedly.
After kneading, cover with plastic, and rest at room temp for another 30 minutes. This gives the gluten time to relax.
Pull out your dough. Portion into workable sizes, and roll out to desired thickness (for me this was a 2 on my marcato atlas, or 3.3 mm thick), using potato or cornstarch as you go to prevent sticking. Do this with a pasta machine, it is borderline impossible without a machine. An electric one will save you an incredible amount of effort.
Cut your noodles with a pasta cutter.
Place in the fridge and allow to rest for at least a day, This final resting phase ensures even hydration and helps make an even starch gel, promoting better texture. Enzymatic activity in the flour also helps build flavor, and the alkaline flavor of the dough subsides somewhat.
These noodles take around 3-4 minutes to cook. After cooking, it’s important to shock the noodles by running them under cold water to stop the cooking process. You’ll notice they feel much more dense after the shock.
Taishoken uses a pork/chicken chintan with solid gelatin content. I like straight chicken more, but the approach is essentially the same, you’d just swap the bones out.
4 lbs chicken backs (you can also use whole chicken)
4 lbs chicken feet, toenails snipped
1 onion, cut in half.
1 2-inch piece of ginger, peeled
10 cloves garlic
1 bunch of green onions (optional)
30 g niboshi (optional)
20 g Kombu
20 g Katsuobushi
Add your chicken parts to a pot, with just enough water to cover.
Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and skim scum as this heats, stirring occasionally to make sure the scum can rise to the top. This will take around 10-20 minutes potentially, be diligent.
When the broth is scum free (or as scum free as you can get it), cover, and cook at below simmer around 5-6 hours, with bubbles barely breaking the surface. For me, this is basically the lowest setting on my stove’s hottest burner. Your mileage may vary.
In the last hour, add in your onion, ginger, green onion, and garlic.
In the last 30 minutes, add in your niboshi.
In the last 15 minutes, add in your katsuobushi and kombu.
Strain and reserve as needed.
I just goofed around with a soy tare. This is probably not my most refined tare, but the key flavors here are kombu, soy, and a touch of vinegar, which I add separately to the bottom of the bowl.
350 g Soy Sauce
50g Brown Sugar
5g msg (optional)
1.The day before making, soak the kombu in the soy sauce in a non reactive vessel 2.The day off, combine the mirin, brown sugar, MSG, and sake in a pot. Bring to a boil, and simmer for 5 minutes to reduce alcohol. 3. Add in your Soy sauce and Kombu, bring up to 160 F, hold for 15 minutes. For me, this is just letting the pot get to this temp, then cutting the heat and steeping like tea 4. Strain and reserve as needed. This will keep for months in the fridge, so feel free to make wayyyy in advance.
Per bowl: add 35 ml of tare, and a scant ¼ tsp of rice vinegar, or more to your taste. Use 250 ml of broth or so. Yes this will be too salty to drink alone. It’s a dip!
Standard green onion aroma oil here. Use whatever you like if this doesn’t fit your fancy:
1 cup chicken fat (if you can harvest this from your broth, great!)
1 bunch of green onions, cut into 2 inch pieces.
Add to a pot and cook for 5-15 minutes, or until the oil feels aromatically complex.
Toppings are pretty baseline. You can use eggs, chashu, whatever you like. But the noodles and broth are the star, and unique to this dish.
In the photos I’ve included some chicken breast I’ve sous vided at 145 F for 90 minutes, and some nori.
That’s it y’all! Happy to answer any questions.
Clearly a knife upgrade since your last recipe post haha. Those scallions are THIN!
thanks for this. Looking forward to making it. Question: Thoughts on making it in pressure cooker after skimming the scum? Figuring it would work quite well. No fat emulsification desired and would make quick work of the chicken.
Also, niboshi is NEVER optional
I cooked tsukemen a week ago, since I had bought a bigoli attachment for my pasta machine https://www.amazon.com/Marcato-7213505-Bigoli-Attachment-150-Pasta-Machine/dp/B00WTHN81K/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1516826725&sr=8-1&keywords=bigoli
Was inteded for homemade Udon, which tasted amazing: https://www.instagram.com/p/BeL4eDzBcOY/?taken-by=nuvols
Then I thought of doing tsukemen, worked on a personal recipe which uses your tori paitan broth and tare as a base with some minor changes:
Reduced 500ml of the broth to 250 ml. Didn't add any extra fat since I had plenty of chicken fat from the broth, plus 50ml of the shoyu tare, a spoon of yuzu juice and some sesame seeds.
Too bad I didnt' take a picture of that one, the broth was amazing, creamy and plenty would stick to the noodles. One of the best ramen I tasted.
Tonkotsu/gyokai based tsukemen is next on my list of todos!
Have you been to Fuunji in Shinjuku, Tokyo? It's my favorite tsukemen shop for sure, and my favorite type of tsukemen. Would love to see you attempt to create something similar.
Hey, instead of going for the 6 hours, could I do 2 on pressure and the final hour as described and get similar results?
My thought process was that since pressure doesn't bring the water to a rapid boil (if not mistaken), it would achieve similar results.
You can definitely do this in a pressure cooker. Cook at 15 PSI for 30 minutes, then let it depressurize naturally (or cook for 45 and then run the pot under cool water if you have a stovetop pressure cooker). 2 hours is way too long for a chintan broth in my opinion.
Would you run it the same way in an instant pot?
Yep, but you might need to reduce quantity to get everything to fit.
Been on the lookout for your tsukemen recipe! I've been adding vinegar to mine because I love Taishoken's flavor. (And, luckily, there's a place in SF that has a similar profile.)
Where is said place in SF?! Haha I'm doing to know!!
Iza! I mean, it's a far cry from Taishouken, but it's the closest I've been able to find to the kind of tsukemen that I like.
Ahh yeah for sure! Only place in the city I know of that serves Tsukemen - definitely a good one!
really nice and simple tsukemen, will try it out with a pure chicken stock
Why do you put msg in your ramen?
Honestly It tastes good. Even with all the glutamate in the broth and tare, MSG gives the broth that extra... "something."
Hard to explain I guess. It's optional in this recipe.
I pride myself in never relying on MSG. 5 grams to me seems like a lot.
It's basically at 1% concentration in the tare and is diluted about 1:8 in the final dipping broth.
I have msg sensitivity where I get migraines definitely from it so I’m very critical of its use.
Then don't use it.
All of the stuff like niboshi, katusoboshi, kombu etc are going to add naturally sourced msg of similar levels.
Yep and I don’t get a migraine from any of those ingredients
Naturally found glutamates are protein bound but process free msg is more easily absorbable, new studies show that high amounts can breach the blood brain barrier and it is also categorized as an excitotoxin and your hypothalamus regulates itself with glutamates.
Didn't know about the new studies. Have any links would love to read them?
Wow, this looks simple. Thank you for sharing :)
Technique and knowledge are really critical to Ramen. Each component isn’t very hard, there’s often just a lot. Prep in stages, will save you a lot of trouble.
Thanks /u/Ramen_Lord !! It is a very interesting recipe, my only doubt is: how much should I concentrate the broth? I noticed you did not mention tapping up the water, as it is usually done for normal ramen broth, but I would feel never the less to boil even more the broth to make it thicker. As guts feeling
As a vinegar I would use the black Chinese vinegar I use for dan dan noodles ... although considered the small quantity it may not make a big diffference compared to any other vinegar
The noodles look amazing! Really! 0_0
Do you find thinner dipping broths or thicker dipping broths to be more popular with tsukemen? When I was in Tokyo I had a good mix of both, not preferring one to the other, but in North America the good majority seem to be a thinner broth?
Did anyone ever find out how to make those super thick ones?
Thick one is still being worked on... gelatin content, fatback, chunks of protein, and gyofun seem to be keys to thickness, though I know some folks use potatoes, rice, or other starches.
Oh boy, can’t wait to try this. Thanks for sharing!
Looks awesome! Thanks for the recipe! Btw, what brand of msg do you like to use?
Aji no moto
Can you use all pork neck bones if trotters split long ways are unavailable, or how about pork soup bones (split short ways)?
Also in many recipes you will see chicken feet for gelatin, would using store bought gelatin work if chicken feet are unavailable? Maybe even substitute wings for chicken flavor.
Hmmm... maybe referring to a different post? This doesn’t have any pork in it, just chicken backs and feet. You could definitely include pork neck bones in place of the chicken backs, or a trotter for some of the chicken feet if you want a pork flavor.
Sorry, I thought I was posting on the pressure cooker tonkotsu recipe.
Ah. I don’t use trotters for most Tonkotsu, femurs to me are kinda critical though. They have the right fat and bone content. Trotters have too much connective tissue.
I thought chicken chintan is supposed to cooked for a shorter period of time? Why are you boiling your chicken for 5-6 hours? Wouldn't that turn it into paitan? But then again, your broth isn't white... I dont understand...
Time is just one factor in broth making. The color you find in paitan-style broths comes mostly from agitation caused by rapid, hard boiling. These bubbles from the boiling shear the fat rendered from the chicken, and, combined with the gelatin created from the breakdown of the collagen in the bones and meat, suspends the fat in the liquid, much like a vinaigrette. A paitan, therefore, is really nothing more than an emulsification of fat and water, with gelatin acting as the emulsifying agent (or surfactant). You can try this out on your own by adding some oil to a broth with gelatin, and blending it in a blender. Thing's gonna be white.
So long as the pot remains below simmer, as outlined in the recipe, the broth will be clear. Even if you cook it 24 hours. Doesn't matter.
Thanks for the explanation. Really helps. I'm new to the game and trying to learn as much as possible.
So for my chicken broth, I'm planning on using instant pot. Might use chicken carcass with added wings, or might use chicken leg quarters with meat. Btw, is it ok to use chicken with meat in the broth? Then I'm planning on pressure cooking the whole thing for 4-5 hrs. What am I going to get, chintan or paitan? Any idea? My guess is chintan...??
Having meat is fine! For chintan, meat is flavor!
But oh lord, don't pressure cook it that long! Go like 30 minutes. Pressure cookers at 15 PSI (the standard amount of pressure for home pressure cookers set to "high pressure" or around one bar of pressure) cook QUICK.
A general rule of thumb is, for every 5 degrees C you increase the boiling point of water, you halve the overall cook time. 15 PSI of pressure increases water's boiling point by 20 degrees C, so cooking is a whopping 24 or 16 times faster! So, a chintan that normally takes 6-8 hours takes... 20-30 minutes or so. Just make sure you let it depressurize naturally to help it retain clarity.
Makes sense! Thank you!!! OK, so what's the general taste difference according to your opinion between chintan and paitain style broths?
Another observation I found in some recipes is that they recommend using mostly bones for paitan. They say the bones dissolve into the liquid from hard boiling and turn the water white.
So is the rule of thumb to use mostly bones for paitan and mostly meat for chintan?
In my experience, this is nothing but kitchen lore and not based on science. Hard boiling doesn't make bones dissolve any more than cooking them below simmer, as the primary action for a bone to break down is temp breaking down collagen in the bones into gelatin. The hard boiling just moves the bones around, but if that movement were the cause, you could just stir the pot a few times and you'd have a paitan.
The color of a paitan is a result of fat being suspended in the water as an emulsion via gelatin. That's it. You can make a creamy broth with water, fat, and gelatin, 100% of the time. Crumbled bones on their own won't get you this result.
The real reason you want bones in a paitan is for flavor. The meaty flavor is somewhat temperature sensitive and evaporates into the air as you boil hard, so spending money on meaty cuts is borderline wasteful for this application.