Momofuku Bo Ssam – Lacquered Pork in Lettuce Leaves

Slow-Roasted Pork Wrapped in Lettuce with Ginger, Scallions and Red Chilies 

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.

In this recipe, the method and ingredients are slightly modified from the original recipe.

Bo Ssam: Slow-Roasted Lacquered Pork with Ginger, Scallions and Chile Sauce

Makes 6 to 8 servings.

4 pounds pork butt (shoulder)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup kosher salt, plus extra for sprinkling
1/4 cup light brown sugar

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

Red chili sauce:
1 tablespoon fermented bean and chili paste
1 teaspoon sweet chili sauce
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
2 tablespoons grapeseed oil

For serving:
Cooked basmati rice
Butter lettuce leaves or little gem leaves
Optional: Fresh cilantro sprigs, toasted sesame seeds, and/or minced red chile pepper for garnish

Method:

1. 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.

2. When you are ready to cook, remove the pork from the oven, discard any accumulated juices, and let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes.

3. Heat the oven (or a grill) to 300°F.

4. Place the pork in a roasting pan. Roast in the oven (or over indirect heat on the grill) until the pork is falling-apart tender, about 4 hours, turning and basting occasionally.

5. 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.

6. Remove the meat from the oven and transfer to a cutting board. Pour off and reserve the accumulated fat and juices.

7. Increase the oven (or grill) temperature to 500°F.

8. Shred the pork, and return to the roasting pan. Drizzle with some of the reserved fat to lightly coat and moisten the meat. Sprinkle the brown sugar over the pork and return to the oven or over indirect heat on the grill. Roast until the meat begins to crisp and caramelize in parts, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer the meat to a serving platter.

9. To serve, place a spoonful of cooked basmati rice in the center of a lettuce leaf. Top with the pork, the ginger-scallion sauce, and a drizzle of red chili sauce.

10. Optional: Garnish with fresh cilantro sprigs, toasted sesame seeds, and/or minced red chile pepper.

Korean-Style Beef Lettuce Cups

Korean-Style Beef Lettuce Cups

There is something primally satisfying about eating with your hands, and with Korean-Style Beef Lettuce Cups you will enjoy that pleasure and more: satisfying, juicy and seriously good finger food with the extra kick of spice.  This is fun food to make and eat – perfect for a casual, interactive dinner party. Line the table with bowls of condiments and rice and platters of beef and lettuce leaves. Then let everyone assemble their own cups. Pile the meat on fresh lettuce leaves along with rice and a sprinkle of condiments. Drizzle some of the reduced meat sauce over the rice and serve with a squirt of sriracha.

Korean-Style Beef Lettuce Cups

A key to the flavor of this recipe is the beef marinade. Strips of beef soak in a rich, umami-ish sauce fortified with stout, and are pan-fried until browned and slightly caramelized. The sauce is then reduced to an intense salty, sweet, hot sauce for drizzling. Serves 6-8.

For the meat:
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup dark beer
3 garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
2 tablespoons sriracha
1 tablespoon sesame oil
2 pounds New York strip or rib-eye steak, cut cross-wise in very thin slices

For the condiments:
1 large carrot, peeled and grated
Juice of 1/2 lime
1 bunch scallions, white and green parts thinly sliced
1 cup fresh mint leaves
1 cup fresh cilantro leaves
1/3 cup sesame seeds, lightly toasted
Sriracha
2 cups basmati or sushi rice, cooked
1-2 heads green leaf lettuce, leaves separated, washed and dried

Prepare the marinade:
Whisk together soy sauce, stout,  garlic, sugar, lime juice, sriracha and sesame oil in a large bowl. Add meat and toss to thoroughly coat the meat. Let sit at room temperature 1 hour or refrigerate covered up to 24 hours.

Prepare condiments:
Toss carrot with lime juice in a small bowl. Place scallions, mint, cilantro, sesame seeds, sriracha and rice in individual serving bowls. Arrange lettuce on a platter.

Prepare Meat:
Heat 1 tablespoon peanut or vegetable oil in a skillet or grill pan over medium high heat. Add beef strips in batches in one layer without overcrowding. Brown on both sides. Transfer to a platter; keep warm. Once all the beef has been cooked, pour the remaining marinade and any collected meat juices into the skillet. Bring to a boil and reduce until somewhat thickened. Pour into a small bowl.

To serve, top a lettuce leaf with a few spoonfuls of rice, 1-2 meat strips and a spoonful of the marinade reduction. Sprinkle with the other condiments and drizzle with sriracha. Roll up and eat.