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
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
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
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.