In Japanese ramen, the thick and opaque broth made from pork bones is called tonkotsu. And its equivalent made from chicken is called tori paitan, meaning chicken white broth. And that’s what we’re making here. Why chicken and not pork? Simply put, because it’s much more practical and easier to achieve at home. The softness of chicken bones allows them to be blended easily with an immersion blender, taking a shortcut to releasing every single flavor molecule within and making it possible to forge an incredibly concentrated white broth in 6 hours. Flavorwise, it is not as consolidated and heavy as tonkotsu, but it still packs a clean yet deeply chickeny flavor. —Mandy @ Lady and pups
- Prep time 30 minutes
- Cook time 6 minutes
- Makes 9 to 10 ramen servings
3 3/4 pounds
(1,700 grams) chicken scaffolds and scraps, including bones, necks, wings, and heads
1 1/2 pounds
(700 grams) chicken feet
extra large or 2 medium onions
4 1/2 quarts
(4,300 milliliters) cold water
- Remove any skins on the chicken necks and butts, but skins on the wings and feet are fine (this eliminates unwanted fat). In a large stockpot, add the chicken scraps and feet and fill with enough water to cover. Cook over high heat just until the water comes to a boil and you see scums and impurities floating to the surface.
- Meanwhile, peel the onion and cut into quarters. Now discard the cooking water and rinse every piece of chicken scraps and feet under running water until clean from all scums and impurities. Wash the pot as well and return all the scraps and feet back into the pot, along with the onions.
- Add the 4 1/2 quarts of cold water, taking note of the current water level; remember where it is, because that’s where you’ll keep refilling the water back to. Now place the pot over high heat, and once it comes to a boil, reduce to medium to medium-high heat to maintain a very active boil: not simmering, not bubbling, but a boil. Place the lid slanted over the pot so it only partially covers it by about two-thirds, and cook for 3 hours. You can also do this in a pressure cooker for 1 1/2 hours, as I always do.
- After 3 hours (or 1 1/2 hours in a pressure cooker), the water will have reduced significantly, and the bones should have been cooked long enough to become very fragile. With a pair of heavy-duty scissors, snap all the bones, necks, and feet in half (this will help the blending go smoothly).
- Insert your immersion blender into the stock carefully, to avoid hot splatter, and pulse until you have obliterated every single solid substance in the pot. The mixture should now look completely opaque, creamy, and slightly thick. Refill the water back to its original level and boil for another 3 hours. Do not use pressure cooking from this point on. Just leave the pot half-covered at a constant and active boil. Come back every 15 to 30 minutes to stir the pot so that the sediments don’t settle and burn at the bottom, and refill the water back to its original level. Boil for at least 30 minutes after the last refill.
- Strain the broth through a fine cheesecloth, squeezing out as much liquid as you can, and discard the solids. As the broth cools, a thin layer of fat will float to the surface. Do not remove this fat. You’ll risk losing the milky substance that the Japanese call 乳脂 (milk fat), which is what gives the broth its body and color.
- If not using immediately, divide the broth into 2-cup portions and freeze until needed. You may notice that once the broth has cooled, it separates into a yellower milky layer and a whiter, clearer layer. This is totally normal, and it will be boiled and beaten back into emulsion later.