Boil your pork. We dare you. —INGRAIN, Summer 2019
RECIPE / Debbie Yoon
Bo ssam, at its essence, is a boiled pork (pork belly or shoulder) dish. While some Americans may balk at the idea of boiling pork, ovens are not very common in Korean households. Believe me, the result is deliciously tender pork. The meat is boiled (vigorously) for 1 to 2 hours in a broth enriched with onion, ginger, garlic, soybean paste, salted shrimp, and in some cases, instant coffee (a recently discovered not-so-secret ingredient in online recipes).
Ssam (from the verb ssada) means “to wrap” and refers to a dish in Korean cooking where leafy vegetables (here, salted napa cabbage) are used to wrap a piece of meat and topped with a spicy dipping sauce. The spicy version here is made with fermented shrimp and is balanced by a divine oyster and daikon kimchi. Ssam is usually bite-size so it can be eaten in one delicious bite.
Serves 6 to 8
3 pounds pork belly
1 large onion
1 head garlic
2 tablespoons doenjang (fermented soybean paste)
1 tablespoon saeujeot (fermented salted shrimp)
2 to 3 tablespoons sesame seeds (toasted)
Shrimp Sauce (ingredients + recipe below)
Pickled Cabbage (ingredients + recipe below)
Gool Moo Saeng Chae (oyster and radish kimchi)
RINSE 3 pounds pork belly well, and drain. In a large Dutch oven or stockpot, combine 1 large onion (quartered) + 2-inch-piece ginger (thinly sliced) + 1 head garlic (sliced in half) + 2 tablespoons doenjang (fermented soybean paste) + 1 tablespoon saeujeot (fermented salted shrimp) + 10 cups water (or enough to cover pork).
Stock to a boil and use tongs to flip meat. Reduce heat to a vigorous simmer, cover pot, and cook until pork is tender, about 1 hour.
Pork belly until cool enough to handle (use immediately or refrigerate for up to 3 days). Slice pork across the grain and arrange on a large platter with shrimp sauce + gool moo saeng chae (oyster radish kimchi) + pickled cabbage (leaves separated). Sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds and serve.
2 tablespoons saeujeot (fermented salted shrimp)
2 garlic cloves (minced)
2 teaspoons gochugaru (red pepper)
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
2 tablespoons saeujeot (fermented salted shrimp) + 2 scallions (chopped; white and light green tops only) + 2 garlic cloves (minced) + 2 teaspoons gochugaru (red pepper flakes, or to taste) + 3 tablespoons water (more if needed) in a small bowl until mixture has a sauce-like consistency. Gently stir in 2 tablespoons sesame seeds. Refrigerate for up to 5 days.
1 Napa cabbage (about 1 pound)
½ cup kosher salt
1 napa cabbage (about 1 pound) in a bowl.
½ cup kosher salt + ¼ cup water in a small bowl. Pour salted water on top of cabbage and in between each leaf. Let cabbage rest, uncovered, for about 2 hours.
Cabbage in cold water, drain, and refrigerate for up to 5 days.
In the mood for more Korean food? Check out Gimme Ssam.