Earlier this month, Sam Sifton wrote an article in the New York Times about Bo Ssam, specifically David Chang’s Bo Ssam that can be had at Momofuku Ssam Bar. The article mentioned how easily Chang’s version of bo ssam can be made at home. Although I had the Momofuku cookbook and probably looked at the same recipe for bo ssam a dozen times, I never thought it was something I could make myself until I read Sam Sifton’s article.
With some help from trusted friends, last Sunday’s bo ssam feast came together quite nicely. I made the pork and procured the kimchi from my favorite Eastern Market vendors, Emily was in charge of the ginger scallion sauce and the bibb lettuce, Alex made the rice and provided the wine, and former co-worker Adam made the ssam sauce. After setting off the smoke detector twice while caramelizing the crust of the pork, the four of us were ready to dig in.
After six hours in the oven, the pork fell apart with just a little tug from a pair of tongs. It was fatty, porky goodness in all its glory. As Sam Sifton mentioned in his article, having all three sauces at the table was not a waste. The ginger scallion sauce was something fierce and the ssam sauce was equally delicious. The kimchi also provided a nice pickly contrast to the fattiness of the pork. The rice and lettuce provided a brief and needed break from the intense flavors of everything else on the table. The four of us ate and ate and ate until we couldn’t eat anymore, yet we still tried squeeze small amounts of pork into our bellies.
I can’t believe I have had this bo ssam recipe at the ready for the past two years and didn’t have the courage to make it. I will not wait another two years for the next bo ssam feast. In fact, I probably won’t even go two months before the next one.
1 whole bone-in pork butt
1 cup white sugar
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon kosher salt
7 tablespoons brown sugar
2 1/2 cups thinly sliced scallions, both green and white parts
1/2 cup peeled, minced fresh ginger
1/4 cup neutral oil (like grapeseed)
1 1/2 teaspoons light soy sauce
1 scant teaspoon sherry vinegar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste
Ssam Sauce 2 tablespoons fermented bean-and- chili paste (ssamjang)
1 tablespoon chili paste (kochujang)
½ cup sherry vinegar
½ cup neutral oil
2 cups short grain rice, cooked
3 heads bibb lettuce, leaves separated, washed and dried
2 cups Kimchi, 1 cup pureed
Place the pork in a large, shallow bowl. Mix the white sugar and 1 cup of the salt together in another bowl, then rub the mixture all over the meat. Cover it with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours, or overnight.
When ready to cook, heat oven to 300. Remove pork from refrigerator and discard any juices. Place the pork in a roasting pan and set in the oven and cook for approximately 6 hours, or until it collapses, yielding easily to the tines of a fork. (After the first hour, baste hourly with pan juices.) At this point, you may remove the meat from the oven and allow it to rest for up to an hour.
Meanwhile, make the ginger-scallion sauce. In a large bowl, combine the scallions with the rest of the ingredients. Mix well and taste, adding salt if needed.
Make the ssam sauce. In a medium bowl, combine the chili pastes with the vinegar and oil, and mix well.
Prepare rice, wash lettuce and, if using, shuck the oysters. Put kimchi and sauces into serving bowls.
When your accompaniments are prepared and you are ready to serve the food, turn oven to 500. In a small bowl, stir together the remaining tablespoon of salt with the brown sugar. Rub this mixture all over the cooked pork. Place in oven for approximately 10 to 15 minutes, or until a dark caramel crust has developed on the meat.
Serve hot, with the accompaniments.