Normally I can’t resist tweaking a recipe, but not this time. As soon as I read this article and recipe in the New York Times for Momofuku Bo Ssam, I began to plan my week around making it. Adapted from the Momofuku cookbook by David Chang and Peter Meehan, this Korean-inspired recipe has perfection written all over it. Despite its exotic name with a restaurant pedigree, I might call this dish Lacquered Slow-Roasted Pork. The meat alone is a masterpiece, oven-roasted to a crispy, caramelized heap with nothing more than copious amounts of sugar and salt. It’s then wrapped in lettuce (ssam), brightened with an intoxicating muddle of ginger and scallions and thoroughly electrified with a fermented bean and chili sauce which will rock any Scoville Scale. If it’s not broken, then don’t fix it.
Bo Ssam: Slow-Roasted Lacquered Pork with Ginger, Scallions and Chile Sauce
I have adjusted ingredients to suit my pantry and adapted the quantities to generously feed a family of 4 with lots of leftovers.
Makes about 8 servings.
For the pork:
4 pounds pork butt (shoulder)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup kosher salt, plus extra for sprinkling
1/4 cup brown sugar
For the ginger-scallion sauce:
1 bunch scallions, about 8, white and green parts, thinly sliced
1/4 cup freshly grated ginger
2 tablespoons grapeseed oil
1 teaspoon light soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon sherry vinegar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
For the red chili sauce:
1 tablespoon fermented bean and chili paste
1 teaspoon sweet chili sauce
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
2 tablespoons grapeseed oil
Cooked basmati rice
Bibb lettuce leaves, washed and dried
Place the pork in a large bowl. Combine the granulated sugar and 1/2 cup salt in a small bowl. Rub all over the meat. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
When you are ready to cook, heat oven to 300 F. Remove pork from refrigerator and discard any accumulated juices. Place the pork in a roasting pan. Roast in the oven until the pork is falling apart tender, about 5 hours, basting occasionally. Remove meat from oven. Increase oven temperature to 500 F. Rub brown sugar all over pork. Sprinkle with a little salt. Return to the oven. Roast until a dark caramel crust forms on the pork, 10-15 minutes. Remove from oven. When cool enough to handle, shred into pieces and large chunks. Arrange on a serving plate.
While the meat is roasting, prepare the ginger-scallion sauce and red chili sauce. Combine all of the ingredients for the ginger-scallion sauce together in a bowl. Taste for seasoning and set aside. Combine all of the ingredients for the red chili sauce together in a bowl. Set aside.
To serve: Place a few forkfuls of shredded pork in the center of a lettuce leave. Top with rice, ginger-scallion sauce and a drizzle of red chili sauce.