This fantastic instant pot ramen broth made from pork hock, bacon, chicken, konbu, and shiitake packs a flavor punch. Based on the delicious but complicated recipe David Chang published in Momofuku, my version enlists the aid of the instant pot or pressure cooker to get it ready in just a couple of hours. Serve with ramen, udon, or rice noodles and top with your favorite meats and veggies. Don’t wait, try this today!Jump to Recipe Print Recipe
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So, I’ll admit it. I have a foodie crush on David Chang. I read cookbooks like novels, and Momofuku is legitimately my all-time favorite. Fair warning – the recipes are NOT quick or easy. Most of the ingredients are sourceable in the Midwest, the recipes are well-written and easy to follow, and the dishes taste a-friggin-mazing if you put in the effort. If you have a thing for sexy food and good writing, I absolutely recommend checking it out.
That said, I’m a terrible recipe-follower. I’ve followed Chang’s ramen recipe to the letter a time or two, and it’s fantastic, but there are sooooo many steps. I’ve tried various ways to make my own version, but they didn’t live up to the original until I enlisted the help of my Instant Pot (any pressure cooker would do the trick). This stock was seriously amazing, and the resulting pork belly ramen recipe may have been the best I’ve ever had.
I won’t go into all of the details (you can read a very close adaptation here), but Chang’s recipe requires flavoring the broth with konbu (10 min), then dried shiitakes (30 min), then chicken (60+ min), then pork leg bones (roasted for 90 min, then ~5 hours in the stockpot) with bacon and vegetables added for separate portions of this cooking time. Then, he suggests seasoning it with a tare made by roasting chicken backs and deglazing the pan with sake, mirin, and soy.
It is amazing, but quite literally takes all day, with attention needed at regular intervals. I love playing in the kitchen and make my own stocks almost weekly, but this is too much to be part of my routine.
Instant Pot Ramen Broth Recipe
Konbu, also spelled kombu, is an edible kelp (seaweed) common in East Asian cooking. It is an essential ingredient in the essential Japanese stock dashi, the basis for miso soup. It has a briny, umami-filled flavor that there isn’t really a good substitute for. Japanese Cooking 101 suggests that katsuoboshi (bonito flakes, dried fish flakes) are an acceptable replacement, but I can’t imagine many people have easy access to one and not the other.
Konbu can be found at many Asian and international markets, but the ones local to me are hit or miss for Japanese ingredients. Fortunately, it’s dried and it keeps forever. I have the Wel-Pac brand in my cupboard right now, and I order it from Amazon whenever I run low. You could use katsuoboshi instead (make sure to strain the broth well after steeping), or simply add two tablespoons of dashi powder (I always have Ajinomoto Hondashi on hand) to water and proceed with the recipe. If you can’t find any of these, leave it out entirely and move on to the next step.
The konbu is not pressure cooked in the instant pot. It should be brought to a boil using the sauté function, and then turned off and steeped for 10 minutes. The konbu may be discarded at this point or saved for another purpose. It can be used to make a second stock (niban dashi) for ramen or miso, or sliced thinly and used in a salad.
My regular grocery store carries pork hocks (feet), which are meaty bony cartilaginous bits of pig that make great stock. Pork hock also happens to be the preferred base for tonkotsu style ramen. Use fresh, unsmoked hocks if you can get them. If you can’t get fresh hocks, any pork bones will do. Necks and ribs are preferable to smoked hocks or ham bones.
Pork Hock Preparation
If possible, ask the butcher to prepare the pork hock for you by cutting it into smaller pieces – it will give you a more flavorful stock. If you live where I do, and your meat counter is staffed by a teenager who gives you a blank stare when you ask a question and then points vaguely at prepackaged meats, just leave it as is. I gave it the old college try with my cleaver, but unless you have a bone saw you aren’t going to get anywhere.
Pork bones should be boiled once, with the water discarded, prior to using them for stock. A rapid, rolling boil for about 15 minutes will clean the hocks of blood and other impurities that will discolor the final stock. I did this on the stovetop in a separate pot. You could try this in the instant pot if you really don’t want to dirty another dish, but you’d have to do it first, prior to flavoring the broth with the konbu. It’s also hard to achieve a rolling boil in the instant pot, so your stock won’t be as clear. The timing works well to do this while the konbu is steeping, so that’s my preference.
Pork Hock Stock
After the first boil, add the hock to the konbu stock in the instant pot. Close the lid and pressure cook for one hour. Let the pressure release naturally (always mandatory when you primarily have liquid in the pot) and discard the hock.
Next up for the ramen broth, add chicken bones to the instant pot. I keep a gallon bag in my freezer and add raw backs and necks from breaking down or butterflying whole chickens, as well as all of our leftover bones from roasted chicken. It’s a great habit to start if you enjoy homemade chicken stock. We love soup in my family, and I make stock (bone broth) most weekends from bones that are essentially free.
If you don’t have a bone bag, you can use chicken parts with plenty of bones and joints. Backs and necks are perfect (and really cheap), but if your grocery doesn’t sell them separately wings and bone-in thighs are also good. These you can break down with a meat cleaver, and that will allow the release of more collagen into the broth. Don’t bother with breasts. They’re more expensive, and they have too high of a meat to bone ratio to make good stock.
Can I Add the Chicken and Pork Bones Together?
I would love to, but my instant pot is only 6 quarts. You can only fill it 2/3 full for liquids, and the bones take up too much space. It wouldn’t yield enough stock for my ramen-loving family to even eat dinner. If I had a bigger pressure cooker, I absolutely would. If you have an 8 quart or larger pressure cooker, or are only cooking for two, feel free to add all of the bones, meat, and vegetables at the same time. Do NOT add the konbu with everything else – it should not be pressure cooked.
David Chang is big on adding bacon to his stocks. It features in both his ramen broth and his bacon dashi, which you should also definitely make. I use bacon in my pork pho stock. If you’ve never tried adding bacon to stock, you should. It adds an unctuous, smoky depth of flavor without overpowering the stock like a ham bone would.
Since I make my own bacon, I have ends and misshapen bits in a bag in my freezer (there are a lot of bags of odds and ends in my freezer – waste not want not!). Ramen broth is a great way to use them, but you can absolutely put regular store-bought bacon into the instant pot as well. Add the bacon pieces along with the chicken and vegetables.
Vegetables for Ramen Stock
Add a roughly chopped onion. a couple of peeled carrots, and a bunch of scallions to the instant pot along with the chicken bones and bacon. No need to peel the onion, the peel adds flavor. If you washed the carrots well prior to peeling, toss the carrot peels in as well. Not to sound like a broken record, but you can keep a bag in the freezer with carrot peels, onion ends, and celery tops. Add a big handful every time you make a stock – it’s a great way to gain flavor from something you would normally have thrown away.
Dried Shiitake Mushrooms
Dried mushrooms are popular in Asian cooking, and for good reason. Mushrooms are umami-filled deliciousness in a small package, and their flavor is concentrated when dried. Dried mushrooms have an almost eternal shelf life. Keeping a few varieties in the cupboard is a great way to add flavor to soups, stocks, and stir fries. Most grocery stores carry them – check the international aisles as well as the produce section. You’ll find better quality mushrooms for cheaper in an Asian market if you have access to one, or of course you can order a bag. A pound goes a looooong way.
Add the mushrooms with the chicken, vegetables, and bacon. They stand up well to rehydration. You can fish them out of the broth at the end and save them. Chang has a pickled shiitake recipe that is fantastic if you’d like to preserve them. You can also slice them for use as a ramen topping, or save them for up to a week in the fridge and use for another purpose.
Tare, pronounced “tah-rey,” is the final step of seasoning a ramen broth. You’ll notice that no salt was added during the cooking process. Ramen is traditionally seasoned just prior to serving, with a sweet, salty, and flavorful sauce that rounds out the dish. There are as many recipes as there are ramen shops, but a good base is a mix of soy sauce and mirin.
I use usukushi (light) soy sauce preferentially – it’s saltier than regular soy sauce – but whatever you like will do. Mirin is a sweetened rice wine that most grocery stores carry these days, but you can substitute sugar and sake or even sugar and white wine. I add soy and mirin in a 2:1 ratio to start, then taste the sauce. Add more soy, a pinch of salt, or a splash of fish sauce if it isn’t quite salty enough. Ramen should never be bland – if it isn’t quite there yet, add more.
Chang recommends roasting chicken backs, then deglazing the pan with a soy and mirin mixture. This is a fantastic idea and tastes wonderful. It’s even a good idea if you’re roasting chicken with no ramen on your horizon, just to have it around to flavor other foods. I’m trying to simplify the recipe, so I left this out, but if you’re interested give it a try.
Uses for Instant Pot Ramen Broth
The best use for instant pot ramen broth is, of course, to make ramen. I have a pork belly ramen recipe (link coming soon) that is absolutely amazing. Chashu pork shoulder ramen is fantastic. I’m a pork girl most of the time, but this chicken ramen recipe sounds great. You can substitute udon noodles or rice noodles in any ramen recipe, or try nabeyaki udon (with chicken, spinach, and egg) with ramen broth as the base. You can even put spaghetti noodles in the soup in a pinch. I won’t tell if you won’t.
Ramen is a build-your-own style soup. It takes well to customization, so you can honestly put anything in it that sounds good to you. This article lists common ramen toppings in Japan if you need a place to start. Looking for something to serve with your ramen? Try gyoza (Japanese dumplings, or potstickers), egg rolls, spring rolls, or edamame. I try to keep most of those in the freezer (homemade or store-bought) so we can have them alongside our Asian noodle soups.
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Instant Pot Ramen Stock
- Instant Pot or pressure cooker
- 2 strips konbu approximately 3×6" each
- 12 cups water
- 2 lb fresh pork hock or pork bones
- 1.5 lb chicken backs, bones, thighs, or wings
- 1/2 lb bacon
- 1 oz dried shiitake mushrooms
- 1 onion roughly chopped, with skin
- 2 carrots large, peeled and chopped, with peels
- 1 bunch scallions
- 1/4 cup mirin or sake + 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1/2 cup soy sauce preferably usukushi (light)
- salt to taste
- fish sauce optional, to taste
- Place konbu in instant pot with 12 cups water. Turn on sauté. Bring to a boil. Push "keep warm" and let steep for 10 minutes. Remove konbu from broth and save for another purpose or discard.
- While konbu is simmering, place pork hock in a large stock pot. Cover with water. Place over high heat. Bring to a boil, then rapid boil for 15 minutes. Remove hock from water and save, discarding water.
- Add boiled pork hock to konbu-flavored stock in instant pot. Close lid and pressure cook on high for 60 minutes. Allow natural pressure release. Discard pork hock, saving broth.
- Add chicken, bacon, shiitakes, and vegetables to broth in instant pot. Close lid and pressure cook on high for 75 minutes. Allow natural pressure release. Remove from broth. Chicken meat and shiitakes may be saved for another use.
- Strain broth through fine mesh strainer. Return to instant pot, or at this point broth may be refrigerated or frozen for later use.
- Just prior to serving, season broth with tare. Mix soy sauce and mirin together. Add to broth. Taste. If it isn't strongly flavored, add a pinch or two of salt, more soy sauce, or a few dashes of fish sauce. Taste again. Continue to adjust until desired level of saltiness reached.
- Pour steaming hot broth over your favorite noodles and ramen toppings. Enjoy!