I know about a million other food bloggers have written about David Chang’s Momofuku bo ssam recipe, but I still get excited about this recipe even years after the cookbook was released. Slow cooked pork is always a favorite in my house. It is the perfect food to warm up your kitchen and your belly on a lazy day, and I wanted to share my version with you. If you could smell my house right now, you would understand why. Amazing. Salty and sweet, the crust of this pork is better than candy. And while the pork can be used in a variety of different ways, lettuce wraps with multiple sauces take care of my Korean food cravings. Chang’s combination of sauces is brilliant because the sherry vinegar in both the ssam sauce and the ginger scallion sauce balance the pork perfectly. Plus, the ginger scallion sauce is so amazing that you will want to eat it on EVERYTHING. This slow cooked pork in lettuce wraps with 2 different sauces has something for everybody, and I really hope you love it as much as we do.
Chang’s original recipe starts with an 8-12 pound pork butt, but I have a hard time storing such huge chunks of meat in my apartment-sized fridge. Plus, that’s a ton of meat, right? This is more of a process than a recipe, so it is easy to scale up or down if you want. I order many of my groceries through Instacart and this time I received 2 – 2.5 lb bone-in pork shoulder chunks instead of 1 large roast. No worries, it still works. Bone in, no bone, doesn’t matter. Get what is on sale. Chang recommends keeping it packed in the sugar/salt mixture for 8+ hours, although 4 hours gave me great results with smaller roasts. The first time I made this recipe, I used regular table salt. Big mistake! There is a reason why this recipe calls for kosher salt – table salt made this overly salty. If you don’t have kosher salt, cut the amount in half. The original recipe also instructs you to serve the lettuce wraps with raw oysters, but they are not readily available in Chicago during the winter. I’m sure they are delicious, but not essential.
The two sauces are an essential part of this dish. Ssam sauce is packed with fermented bean paste: sweet, tangy and spicy. I scaled back the heat in this version so that everyone can eat it. Ginger scallion sauce is one of the most famous recipes from this cookbook for good reason. It is so mind-blowingly delicious that you will make double batches and use it everywhere. Think sandwiches, ramen noodles, even roasted veggies. It is that good. This recipe scales back the ginger so that it isn’t too spicy for kids and letting it sit for a while allow the vinegar to mellow the heat. The sauces can obviously be omitted for picky eaters, but even Z likes the ginger scallion sauce.
The hardest part of this recipe is the waiting. It takes about 4 hours, but you need to baste it regularly. It smells so amazing and the crust is so delicious, that it is hard not to pick delicious pieces off the roast. But wait! It gets better! Add a little bit of sugar to the remaining fat on top, roast it at 500° and it gets even crispier! It bubbles! Can you tell how excited I am? I know that people are still crazy for bacon, but this is the real meat candy. The pork is served in lettuce wraps, so its healthy, right?
Note on ingredients: If my Korean-Style Fried Chicken Bites recipe wasn’t enough motivation to get you to the Korean grocery store, I hope this gets out you. Chicagoans – Joong Boo Market is my go-to stop for everything, especially their fresh banchan bar. Many parts of the country have H-Mart, which has the broadest selection of Asian ingredients that I have ever seen, with a heavy focus on Korean ingredients. As I mentioned earlier, Annie Chung offers a variety of Korean products that can be found online, if needed. But don’t skip this recipe just because you can’t find all of the ingredients – it is too good to miss.
|Korean Slow Cooked Pork in Lettuce Wraps (Bo Ssam)|| |
- 5 lb pork shoulder roast
- ½ cup sugar + 2 tablespoons, divided
- ½ cup kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 head of butter lettuce, leaves washed and divided
- Cooked rice for serving
- Ssam sauce
- Ginger scallion sauce
- 2 tablespoons ssamjang (green tub at the Korean grocery store)
- 1 tablespoon gochujang (red tub at the Korean grocery store)
- 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
- ½ cup neutral oil
- 2 bunches of scallions, sliced thin
- 2 tablespoons of grated ginger
- 1 tablespoon of sherry vinegar
- 1 tablespoon of soy sauce
- ¼ cup neutral oil
- Mix ½ cup sugar, salt and brown sugar together and press into all surfaces of the pork.
- Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.
- Wipe excess coating from pork, drain liquid and bake in a 300° oven for 1 hour, fat side up.
- Use fat drippings from pork to baste every hour, until the pork is very tender and falls apart with the touch of your tongs, about 6 hours. Remove from oven.
- Preheat oven to 500°
- Sprinkle the remaining sugar over the top of the pork and return pork to the oven.
- Bake pork until a crisp crust forms on the top of the roast, about 5-10 minutes.
- Mix ingredients together and let sit at least an hour ahead of time. Both can be made while pork is in the oven.
- Serve pork in lettuce wraps with rice, ssaam sauce and ginger scallion sauce.