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The Perfect Tonkotsu Ramen Broth: Why Berkshire Pork Stands Out



A bowl of Tonkotsu ramen made from Berkshire Kurobuta pork


When it comes to creating the perfect bowl of ramen, every ingredient matters. From the noodles to the toppings, each component plays a critical role in achieving that symphony of flavors that makes ramen so beloved. One of the most important elements is the broth, the heart and soul of ramen. For a truly exceptional broth, many chefs and home cooks turn to Berkshire pork for the tonkotsu broth. But what makes Berkshire pork so special for ramen broth? Let's dive into the unique qualities that set it apart.


The Rich History of Berkshire Pork


Berkshire pork, often referred to as Kurobuta pork in Japan, hails from one of the oldest and most renowned pig breeds in the world. Originating in the English county of Berkshire over 300 years ago, this breed has been cherished for its superior quality. The Japanese imported Berkshire pigs in the 19th century, recognizing their potential for high-quality meat, and since then, Kurobuta has become synonymous with premium pork in Japan.


Unmatched Marbling and Flavor


One of the standout features of Berkshire pork is its exceptional marbling. The intramuscular fat found in Berkshire pork is significantly higher than in other breeds, which contributes to its rich, buttery texture and deep flavor. This marbling is crucial for ramen broth, as it melts during the long simmering process, imparting a luscious, velvety texture and a depth of flavor that is hard to achieve with leaner cuts of meat.


The flavor profile of Berkshire pork is also notably more robust and sweeter than that of conventional pork. This natural sweetness and umami work harmoniously with the other flavoring in the broth, such as soy shoyu tare (soy sauce seasoning) or misotare (miso seasoning), enhancing the overall complexity of ramen.


The Science Behind the Taste


The superior taste of Berkshire pork can be attributed to its unique fat composition. Berkshire pigs have a higher percentage of unsaturated fats compared to other breeds. These fats not only melt at a lower temperature, making the meat more tender and succulent, but they also have a lower melting point, which allows them to blend seamlessly into the broth, creating a richer and more cohesive flavor profile.


Additionally, the amino acid profile in Berkshire pork contributes to its umami intensity. Glutamate, inosinate, and guanylate are naturally occurring compounds in Berkshire pork that enhance savory flavors, making the broth more mouthwatering and satisfying.


Ethical and Sustainable Farming Practices


Another reason why Berkshire pork is often preferred by chefs and conscientious consumers is the ethical and sustainable farming practices typically associated with its production. Berkshire pigs are usually raised on small, family-owned farms where they are allowed to roam freely and are fed a natural diet. This not only ensures a higher quality of life for the animals but also results in meat that is free from unnecessary antibiotics and hormones.


The focus on animal welfare and sustainable farming practices means that when you choose Berkshire pork, you are not only opting for superior taste but also supporting ethical food production.


Creating the Perfect Tonkotsu Ramen Broth with Berkshire Pork



Berkshire pork feet and pork neck for making Tonkotsu ramen

At The Story of Ramen, we exclusively source Berkshire pork from our supplier Asia International for our ramen making classes. Berkshire pork may be available at high quality Japanese or Korean grocery stores. Here’s a simple recipe to help you get started:


Ingredients:

  • 3 pounds Berkshire (Kurobuta) pork feet

  • 3 pounds Berkshire (Kurobuta) pork neck

  • 18 cups room temp water


Instructions:

  1. Fill a pot half full with water.

  2. Put on the stove. Boil the water on high heat. [NOTE - you can cover the pot with a lid to make the boiling process faster.]

  3. Add the unthawed pork neck bones and pork feet bones. Wait for the water and bones to boil again.

  4. Scoop out the scum and floating impurities from the pot until you don't see anymore floating to the surface. This may take anywhere between 20-40 minutes.

  5. Strain the bones and clean the pot. Thoroughly rinse and wash each bone by hand. Put them back into a clean pot with water (amount per ingredient list) and let it boil again.

  6. Let the pot boil on high heat for at least 6 hours and up to 10 hours. You'll get a more viscous broth by boiling 8-10 hours.

  7. Do not cover the pot completely with a lid but you can leave a lid half covered. Add more water periodically as the water level decreases. Stir the bones every 15-25 minutes. Use a refractometer to measure the "thickness" of the broth. The broth should measure at 5.9 or higher on the "BRIX" scale on the refractometer.

  8. Using a fine strainer, strain all the solids and reserve the remaining liquid broth.

  9. Each serving of broth is 300 mL. Store the broth in 12 oz plastic container cups for easy re-heating later.


Conclusion


Berkshire pork truly elevates ramen broth to an art form. Its rich marbling, superior flavor, and ethical production practices make it the ideal choice for creating a broth that is both delicious and comforting. Whether you’re a seasoned chef or a home cook, incorporating Berkshire pork into your ramen recipe is sure to impress and delight your taste buds. So next time you're preparing a pot of ramen, reach for Berkshire pork and experience the difference for yourself.


 

Manville Chan

Manville Chan is the Founder and Chief Experience Officer at The Story of Ramen.






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