Waking up to Tonkotsu

Last night I just had this huge urge to eat ramen. Ever since I had my first bowl of real Japanese ramen at Hide-Chan in NYC, I’ve been pretty obsessed with good ramen like probably every other Asian you know. However, living in the suburbs of Chicago, a solid 6000 miles away from Japan… getting a decent bowl of ramen at a good price is basically impossible and I wasn’t about to go drive to Chinatown (a 40 minute drive) just to satisfy this craving so I did what anybody else would do… DIY Tonkotsu Ramen! Right? I bet you’d do that too if you were in my shoes.. said probably one out of one hundred people.

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Yeah, mine doesn’t look quite like that…

I’ve made Tonkotsu ramen once before through a recipe I found on Serious Eats. I actually made it then with the intention of giving it as a gift for my brother who was probably the first in our family to get on this ramen trend. Tonkotsu is supposedly really difficult and technical to make because the broth should be extremely deep in flavor and of a certain kind of consistency. Yeah okay. I believe ya but I’m a little lazy right now and I just want some Tonkotsu so I just forgo-ed any recipe and started cooking my pig hocks in some water and letting it simmer all night hoping I’d get some rich broth in the morning. Hopefully you’ll be able to find a somewhat decent recollection of what I did on my food blog sometime soon. I get really lazy when I cook in terms of stopping at each step to take a picture or measure out my ingredients. All i really want to do is cook and eat. Anyways, when I woke up this morning around 10AM, the first thing I did was check on my Tonkotsu broth. It smelled really porky in the kitchen. When I opened the pot, I had this beautifully white and cloudy broth. Yassssss!

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Even though it takes forever, the broth that comes from simmering down all the collagen, tendons, and all the other parts of the pig hock really gives the broth the body that it needs. My only problem now was that I didn’t have any pork belly, which is basically the next best part of tonkotsu, to go with it. 😦

But I’m happy to say that now that I’m done working for the summer, I have all the time in the world to mess with these things and do whatever my heart, or my stomach, pleases. Though, not wanting to just make a trip out to get pork belly, I thought about what else I could do while I was out to be more productive. Running/working out came to mind. That’s something that I really haven’t done this summer with having to stand 8 hours a day 5 days a week, which is something I’m pretty bummed at myself about because freshman year did not do well for my waistline. Running’s not an activity I’m particularly fond of or good at. Even though I’ve done Track and Field for 6 years of my life, it’s been much more field than track. Run 400m? Ew. Run 800m? No. Play in a sandbox? Yes. Always. But not having the means to do Insanity right now (our projector’s dead) or wanting to go lift, I settled for running in the prairie about 3 miles from my house. Note: Yes, I drove to the prairie to go run. How first-world of me.

So after about 40 minutes of bumming and contemplating whether I’m really going to on that run or not, I came to the realization that I just need to do it and stop thinking. It’ll be good for me. I downloaded an app that would use GPS tracking to track how much I ran and started heading out. 10 minutes later, I was parked, hydrated and ready to go. And it really wasn’t that bad. I ran the first mile without stopping in about 9 minutes which I was pretty proud of because I haven’t even ran a mile in about 3 or 4 months. It was a good start, so I decided to walk the next half mile, indulging in the serene atmosphere of the prairie grasses and flowers swaying lightly in the wind against the backdrop of green shrubbery, white clouds, and blue skies, and taking some nice pics of the area.

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Half an hour later, I found myself back at my starting spot, quite sweaty and quite thirsty, but feeling good about what I just did. In total, I ran/walked about 2.3 miles. Not bad for my first time out in a while, I thought.

After my run, I headed down Naper-Plainfield Rd to the Garden Fresh Market on 75th in search of delicious and fattening pork belly. Garden Fresh is probably one of my favorite grocers (yes I do have favorites) because of its larger selection of ethnic products and more unusual cuts of meat like oxtail, pig ears, etc. You know, the weird stuff that we Chinese folks like to eat. Anyways, this wasn’t my lucky day. Even though I did pick up some fresh lychees and a couple passionfruit green teas, they did not have pork belly today. *sadface* Not wanting to drive all the way to H Mart, I took my chances with Jewels and stopped by before going home. Nope. They didn’t have it either. Annoyed, I attributed this absence of pork belly as another one of those small things that separates Americans and ‘foreigners’. Americans eat angus beef, chicken breast, and salmon fillets. Foreigners eat that weird shit that Jewels doesn’t carry. That might be taking it too far, but oh well…

Anyways, it looks like ramen’s going to have to wait and I’ll have to make that trip to H Mart tomorrow afterall and after I hit up the hair salon in Lisle. That’s right, getting the odd strand thingies that grow on my head chopped off tomorrow. I’m thinking 4 inches? I don’t know. We’ll see what I feel like tomorrow. Also, I ended up making a Lemon Chicken Pasta Salad with arugula instead for dinner. I don’t know why but I’ve been obsessing over arugula for the last few days. It was pretty delicious and I may or may not have a post on my food blog for it later too. Btw, fried shittake chips? Fantastic.

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Yay for finishing a blog post finally..! Going to go get me some ice cream now as a treat.

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