Recipe for Traditional ‘Tonkotsu’ Ramen by Brian MacDuckston

Originally from Fukuoka, this ramen dish is one of the most recognisable, particularly thanks to its white broth and colourful garnish.


WordsClémence Leleu

Excerpt from “Ramen at Home”, by Brian MacDuckston, published by Rockridge Press. Copyright © 2017 by Callisto Media, Inc. All rights reserved.

Tonkotsu ramen is instantly identifiable: first by its thick, almost white-coloured broth, and second by its colourful garnish with dark brown mushrooms, bright green negi (Japanese spring onion), and almost red pickled ginger. This staple dish was one that Brian MacDuckston, author of the book Ramen at Home, could not ignore. 

He shares the recipe, along with one hundred others, in his book dedicated to this typical Japanese dish that he first discovered in 2008. ‘I had been living in Japan for a year by then and, like many Americans, still thought of ramen as cheap eats for college students. Boy, was I wrong! […] I was instantly hooked on ramen and began my search for great bowls of the stuff in Tokyo, across Japan and abroad’, Brian MacDuckston explains. 

Tonkotsu ramen originates from Fukuoka Prefecture on Kyushu island. It is also known as Hakata ramen, after the city where the recipe is thought to have been devised. The broth is made up of marinated pork bones and chicken carcass, which give it a rather strong flavour, along with chopped garlic, pork fat, and sesame seeds. 

Serves 4


125 ml shio tare 

625 ml creamy tonkotsu soup 

750 g fresh noodles, such as fine chukasuimen noodles

4 to 8 slices chashu pork



White sesame seeds

Benishoga (red pickled ginger) 

Takana (pickled mustard leaves)


Once all the ingredients are ready, fill a large saucepan with water and bring to the boil over a medium-high heat.

Half-fill the ramen bowls with water to heat them up. The bowls should be warm to the touch, but not scalding. Discard the hot water and dry the bowls with kitchen roll or a clean towel.

Put the tare and the soup in a medium-sized saucepan. Mix and bring to the boil over a low heat.

Cook the noodles in the large saucepan of boiling water. If the ramen noodles are a standard thickness (approximately 1 mm), they will take one to two minutes to cook.

Around 30 seconds before the noodles have finished cooking, ladle the soup into the ramen bowls.

Drain the noodles, making sure to remove the excess water. Delicately place the noodles in each bowl of soup, making sure to keep the presentation tidy.

Add one or two slices of chashu and sprinkle the noodles with kikurage and negi.

Serve immediately with the sesame seeds, benishoga, and takana as condiments.


Ramen at Home (2017), a recipe book by Brian MacDuckston, is published by Rockridge Press.

Brian MacDuckston is a journalist who specialises in ramen. He lives in Tokyo and writes articles about ramen restaurants around the world, and shares them on his blog Ramen Adventures. He also regularly collaborates with Condé Nast Traveler. Ramen at Home is his first book. Brian MacDuckston followed this with Best of the Best Ramen in 2019, a guide to the best ramen restaurants in Japan, only available in Japanese. 

© Rockridge Press