It’s ironic that making true Japanese ramen from scratch—a hallmark adventure of the truly cooking-obsessed—feeds people an interpretation of a dish that, at least in college, is known for its simplicity. The thing is, if you’re not making the noodles yourself (and there are plenty of good, fresh ramen noodle brands), the process is actually quite easy. It takes a day or two, but there’s very little actual work involved.
This version of ramen, made by roasting and then simmering pork neck bones until the meat is falling-off tender, may change your perception of what it takes to make a good pork stock.
Look for Sun Noodle’s shoyu-flavored ramen noodles in the refrigerated or frozen sections at Uwajimaya.
For the soup
4 pounds meaty pork neck bones
12 cups water
1 onion, halved (not peeled) or 1 large leek, chopped
2 large carrots, chopped
Two 11-ounce packages fresh ramen noodles (any flavor, you’ll discard the flavoring packet)
Hard-cooked eggs (still soft in the center), halved
Thinly sliced scallions
Sliced fish cakes
Shichimi Togarashi (popular Japanese seasoning)
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Put the bones in a high-sided roasting pan in a single layer and roast for 1 1/2 hours, until browned all over, turning once. Immediately add 2 cups of the water to the pan, and use a spoon to scrape the browned bits off the bottom of the pan.
Transfer the bones and liquid to a large soup pot. Add the remaining 10 cups water, onion or leek, and carrots, bring the liquid to a boil, then simmer over low heat for 2 hours. Let the liquid cool for about an hour, then strain the stock, reserving the solids and transferring the liquid to another container.
Refrigerate the liquid overnight. Pick the pork bones out of the solids, and use your fingers to remove and shred all the meat. Refrigerate the meat overnight.
To assemble the ramen, remove the stock and pork from the refrigerator. Skim off and discard the white fat cap that forms on the stock overnight, then bring it to a simmer again in a large pot. Season the stock to taste with salt and soy sauce. Cook the noodles directly in the stock (discarding any flavor packets), according to package instructions.
Divide the noodles and pork between four bowls. Pour the broth directly over the pork to warm it, then add whatever additional toppings you desire. Serve immediately.