I can’t believe I’ve lived this long without ever making the bo ssäm recipe from David Chang’s celebrated Momofuku cookbook… bo ssäm where have you been all my life?! In case you aren’t familiar with this Korean extravagance, it is a meaty pork shoulder that has been slow roasted in a dutch oven until tender and has a caramelized brown sugar and salt crust. It is served wrapped up in a fresh lettuce leaf with spicy condiments, fragrant sauces along with bites of deliciously sticky short grain rice.
Since I live on the west coast, making this at home is much easier than hopping a plane to NYC and getting reservations at the momofuku ssäm bar (hello, it even has its own freaking faq with over thirty questions on the website). This my friends, is a completely do-able feast. The only caveat is that you need a korean market where you can pickup a few necessary condiments, and a good chunk of time… you know, like 6 hours to tend to a pork shoulder slow cooking in a dutch oven… Mr. K. found an alternate Korean market since our neighborhood store has recently closed, where he procured kochujang (chili paste) and ssäm jiang (seasoned bean paste) and picked up some fresh handmade kimchi at the urging of the store owner (who spoke very little english). And I’m glad he listened, because that kimchi kicks ass and is much better than the commercially made stuff.
It’s amazingly simple. Marinate the pork shoulder overnight in a dry rub mixture of salt and sugar, then roast it (covered in a dutch oven) for 6 hours, basting every once in awhile. At the end, you coat it with a mixture of brown sugar and salt, raise the oven temperature up high and finish it uncovered so it will caramelize… The slow cooked pork just falls apart and has the most gorgeously crispy edges. It’s a real stunner and I posted the recipe here.
The condiments are simple but heady and intoxicating when mixed together. The Ginger Scallion sauce is like liquid gold and goes on noodles or roasted meats, adding extreme glamor to anything it comes in contact with… including people! It has very few ingredients but when combined, they create harmony and oneness in the universe.
The Ssäm sauce is a luscious mixture of fermented bean and chili paste, which gets a rich sheen from grapeseed oil and a pungent electric kick from sherry vinegar
Ahhh, there’s nothing quite like eating that delectable pork rolled in a lettuce leaf and licking the savory dribbles from your fingers… in fact, it’s downright obscene. And let me warn you that you will find yourself eating more pork than you thought possible because you just can’t stop. Your mind and stomach might think it’s time to stop, but your tastebuds won’t let you… Seriously!
The only thing missing were raw oysters, which would have required additional travel and didn’t fit into the plan. I think the addition of raw oysters would just about do me in… that will just have to wait for the next time… Enjoy this, I know you will. Happy New Years too!
*~*~*~update*~*~* I finally did make it out to Tomales Bay with a bo ssam, read about that feast here.