When I was in Tokyo years ago, I was able to cross off an eatery I was very eager to try. Specializing in tsukemen, Rokurinsha always has lines out of the door. Tsukemen is a dipping ramen noodle dish that can be served hot or cold. The noodles and toppings are served on the side and the guest takes small portions of the noodles, dipping it into the soup. Rokurinsha's broth is full of umami, making every bite intensely flavorful.
Since then, I have been able to find some notable tsukemen restaurants in Los Angeles but none that will ever compare to Rokurinsha's. Because of this, I took it upon myself to brace the challenge and try to replicate it at home. I will admit, this is still not as good as the originals (because let's face it, no one can probably replicate Rokurinsha's recipe), but this is pretty darn close! Get ready for endless bowls of tsukemen at your house.
- 2 lb pork bones
- 1 lb chicken feet
- 2 inch ginger knob smashed
- 6 scallions white ends only
- 6 cloves garlic smashed
- ½ cup soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon mirin
- 1 teaspoon sake
- 1 garlic minced
- 2 teaspoon ginger minced
- 1 scallion white end only
- 2x2 inch kombu
- 1 ounce bonito flakes
- 4 ounces pork belly cut into bite-size chunks
- 1 teaspoon garlic minced
- 1 teaspoon ginger minced
- ¼ cup all-purpose flour
- 3 cups pork broth
- 3 tablespoon tare
- ½ cup bonito flakes
- 1 tablespoon dried sardine powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 packets thick ramen noodles
- 6 ounces chashu
- 2 soft boiled eggs
- ½ cup thinly shaved red onion
- 2 lime wedges
- chopped scallions
- Make the stock. Rinse pork bones and chicken feet. Place in the instant pot and set to pressure cook on high for 10 minutes. Release the steam and strain the liquid. Rinse the bones with cold water and wash the instant pot. Place the bones back into the pot with the ginger, scallion ends, and garlic. Fill the pot with enough water to rise 2 inches above the ingredients. Set instant pot to pressure cook on high for 1 hour.
- Release the pressure and open the instant pot. Stir the bones, breaking apart any that are soft enough to break. Continue to cook on high for 1 hour. Release the pressure and stir the bones again, trying to break down the bones. Repeat this for a total of 6 hours. Strain the stock, discarding the bones but keeping any chunks of meat that remains.
- Make the tare. Combine all ingredients for the tare in a small saucepot and bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes. Strain, discarding ingredients. Let cool.
- Heat a medium saucepot over medium-high heat. Add pork belly chunks and cook until browned, about 3 minutes. Add garlic, ginger, and flour, stirring to coat. Add 3 cups of the strained stock along with any reserved meat chunks, 3 tablespoon tare, ½ cup bonito flakes, and 1 tablespoon dried sardine powder. Bring to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes or until thickened, stirring occasionally. Season the tsukemen with ½ teaspoon salt.
- Cook ramen noodles according to the directions on the package. Strain and rinse in cold water. Portion noodles into two bowls and top with sliced chashu, thinly shaved red onion, soft boiled eggs, and a lime wedge. Ladle the tsukemen in two separate bowls, top with chopped scallions and serve.
**Helpful tips and common mistakes
Tsukemen is, without a doubt, a different type of ramen that is not as well-known but based on my experience, it very well should be.
Start by making the soup base for the tsukemen. What I have discovered through my research is that tsukemen is almost a combination of tonkotsu ramen and shoyu ramen. You are essentially combining a pork and chicken broth with shoyu tare with a couple of other additional ingredients.
I used the help of the instant pot to prepare the pork and chicken broth but you can also use the stovetop. If simmering the broth on the stovetop, you will need to double the cooking time to a total of 13 hours (you can see why I chose to use the instant pot). Make sure to stir the bones every so often. The idea is to break down the bones, releasing the bone marrow which will help flavor and thicken the soup.
Rokurinsha uses a combination of pork, chicken, seafood, and vegetables to prepare their stock. I presumed the seafood refers to either bonito flakes, kombu, or dried sardine. I used the help of bonito flakes and dried sardine powder to add the umami punch the tsukemen needs. If you can't find dried sardine powder, try to find dashi powder that has dried sardine powder.
If possible, try to find thicker ramen noodles than the standard. The soup for tsukemen is quite strong and needs a thick noodle that can handle the flavors. If you can’t find fresh ramen noodles, opt for udon noodles.
Serve the dish with the toppings and noodles on the side and dip away! Shaved red onions and lime wedges aren't found in Rokurinsha's meals but I love how they offset the heaviness of the dish. Tsukemen is salty, but the point is to have a heavily flavored dipping sauce to coat the noodles.
This dish may be my favorite ramen variation with the umami punch and a variety of toppings. Mix up the toppings if you desire, adding bean sprouts, a different type of fish cake or protein. Either way, because the soup is solid, the rest of the tsukemen will be as well!
For more ramen inspiration check out this instant pot shio ramen!