Monday, January 16, 2012

Momofuku Bo Ssam

I took one look at the photo of the Momofuku Bo Ssam and knew I had to make it.  After wiping up the drool from the side of my face, I got to work.

This is a relatively easy recipe.  The pork pretty much cooks itself while filling the house with its savory aroma.  The ginger scallion sauce takes a bit of chopping but comes together pretty quick, and reminds me of Chinese Cold Ginger Chicken Sauce.  The hardest part of making the ssam sauce is tracking down the fermented bean and chili paste.  I use a lot of kochujang to flavor with, so I had that available, but have never used ssamjang, which was not easy to find in my little town.  If you don’t read Korean, like me, the kochujang container is red and the ssamjang container is green.
Other than that, the lettuce and kim chee come straight off the shelf at the store, and in our house, we always have a pot of cooked rice on the counter.  I had all the ingredients I needed except for the sherry vinegar, so I substituted with red wine vinegar (which I thought was a bit over powering, but not in a bad way).  The next time I make this I will be sure to have sherry vinegar on hand.  With that said, I can’t tell you how much of a difference it made because this will be my first time.

The original recipe calls for an 8 – 10 pound bone in pork butt.  That would take me and my family forever to eat, so I shrunk the recipe to a quarter.  I used a 2# boneless pork butt that I had in my freezer and cut the brine to a quarter also, which still seemed like a lot.  But since I had never made this before, I stuck with the plan. I was intrigued that the brine was made up of a ridiculous amount of salt and sugar, and was leery as to the end result. But I had to belive that it was going to work as stated in the article and all I had to loose was a 2# pork butt and some time.

The end result was an OMG moment!  This dish was well worth the effort.  The pork was perfectly seasoned and tenderly pulled apart into delicious juicy chunks of meat heaven. It all was surprisingly balanced with sweet and salty all at the same time.  The process of layering made it even better.  Crispy butter lettuce, sweet & salty tender pulled pork, spicy kim chee, finished with, the pungent ginger scallion and ssam sauce.  It was delish!  Crisp, savory pungent flavors, came together in one simple bite.  I will definitely make this again.  All the parts made my palate go wild.

I will say that I wish the ssam sauce was spicier and think that the perfect fix would be to use 2 Tbls. of kochujang and 1 Tbsp. ssam jang.  That is only one person’s opinion...  But don’t change or skip the ginger scallion sauce it wakes and shakes up the dish

My final thought is that this pork could be served without all the accompaniments and still be delicious.  But if you have the time.  Dress it up!
Brine overnight and ready for the oven.
Half way point (about 2 hours)
Finished pork (about 4 hours)
Finished pork
Kim Chee, Ginger Scallion Sauce, Ssam Sauce

My Shrunken Momofuku Bo Ssam
2              pound                   boneless, pork butt with a cap of skin
¼             cup                         kosher salt
¼             cup                         white sugar
Mix the salt and sugar together in a bowl and rub all over the meat.  Cover with plastic and refrigerate for at least 6 hours or overnight.
Glaze for the final step
1              tsp.                        kosher salt
2 Tbs. + 1 tsp.                     brown sugar
Mix together in a small bowl and set aside.
Ginger Scallion Sauce
1 ¼         cup                         scallions, both green and white parts, sliced thin
¼             cup                         fresh ginger, peeled and minced
2              Tbsp.                     neutral oil
¾             tsp.                        soy sauce
¼             tsp.                        red wine vinegar
¼             tsp.                        kosher salt
Mix all the ingredients together and let sit for at least 15 - 20 minutes to let the flavors meld together.
Ssam Sauce
1              Tbsp.                     ssamjang
2              Tbsp.                     kochujang
½             cup                         red wine vinegar
½             cup                         neutral oil
2              cups                       plain cooked white rice
1              head                      butter or bib lettuce, leaves separated
                                                Kim chee
When you are ready to cook, heat oven to 300 degrees.  Remove roast from refrigerator and discard any juices, but don’t rinse.  Place in a roasting pan and cook for approximately 4 hours, or until it collapse, yielding easily to the tines of a fork.  (after the second hour, baste hourly with pan juices.)  At this point you can remove the meat from the oven and allow it to rest for up to an hour.

When you are ready to serve.  Turn oven to 500 degrees.  Rub the Glaze ingredients all over the skin of the cooked pork.  Place in the oven for approximately 10 – 15 minutes, or until a dark carmel crust has developed on the meat.