Monday 26 March 2012

Bo Ssam

When I went to Momofuku’s Ssam Bar in New York on New Year’s eve, there were groups of friends there sharing the famous Ssam dish. Ssam is Korean, and it literally means ‘wrapped’, and it can be anything from lettuce leaves to cabbage leaves, seaweed, or even thinly sliced fish fillet. A comprehensive recipe to make the pork version, Bo Ssam, is in Chang’s Momofuku cookbook. To celebrate moving house and to thank the boys that lugged all our stuff, I picked this recipe to idly make on Sunday.

It looks long and involved but it is actually just long. After an overnight curing in the fridge in a mixture of salt and sugar, the meat is slow roasted for several hours. A roast dinner for 6 would have been more labour intensive, as with this all I had to do was bung the meat in the oven and make some sauces. The results were pretty stunning - a lettuce leaf encased a soft blob of rice and drizzled with spring onion and ginger sauce, finally topped with some caramelised pork and spiciness.

The lightness and freshness of the lettuce leaves meant that I could carry on stuffing them in by the handful. The pork was slow roasted to a yielding tenderness and it had us all scrabbling for the edges of the meat, crisp and fatty and coated in an addictive sugary salty crust. I eventually waddled away from the table to collapse on the sofa, groaning in mild discomfort.

You don't have to make your own kimchi, but if you do want to I have a recipe here. It's well worth it just for the sheer smugness of having made everything yourself. I'm not convinced that the Ssam sauce as well as the pureed kimchi is worth it, as they were quite similar in flavour but they're not hard to make so give it a go. All of the ingredients that you can't find in your usual supermarket will be available in your local Asian supermarket or buy it online here.

Adapted from David Chang's 'Momofuku'.

Serves 6

3kg bone-in pork shoulder

Rub 100gr coarse sea salt with 100gr sugar into the pork flesh and cover and refrigerate overnight. The next day, drain any juices from the pan and roast on 150 degrees C for 5 hours, basting every hour. Remove and leave to rest. Just before serving, rub with 5 tbsp soft brown sugar and 1 tbsp coarse sea salt, and roast on the highest setting for 15 minutes. For this part I removed the skin so that the fat was crisp and caramelised.

These sauces can (and should) be made in advance.

Ssam Sauce

1 tbsp chilli bean sauce
1/2 tbsp gochujang - this is a Korean sweet chilli paste
4 tbsp sherry vinegar
4 tbsp neutral oil.

Mix all of the above together until emulsified.

Spring Onion & Ginger Sauce

250gr spring onions, root removed
50gr fresh ginger
1 tsp sherry vinegar
4 tbsp neutral oil
1 tsp coarse sea salt

Slice the spring onions, green and white, thinly and combine in a big bowl with the ginger, minced as finely as possible. Toss with the wet ingredients. This gets better in flavour after about half an hour and will last for a few days in the fridge. Chang recommends eating anything like fresh noodles, or stirring through rice with any leftover.

Kimchi & Sauce

Puree 260gr kimchi in a blender until almost smooth. Place 250gr kimchi in a separate bowl. Now you have all your sauces.

To serve:

500gr short grain rice (this was labelled pudding rice in the supermarket)

Soak for half an hour and then cook by absorption method, or however best you cook rice. I cook rice in my rice cooker. Long grain can be used too, but this short grain stickier version is more traditional.

2 heads of soft, round lettuce

Separate the leaves and wash well. Soak in iced water until needed - this keeps them fresh - and then spin dry to serve.


roym said...

ive got guests coming in a couple of weeks. we are having this, looks awesome

Patrick said...

There's a great video here where Anthony Bourdain goes to Ssam Bar and pretty much eats the entire menu with David Chang

Katy Salter @ Pinch of Salt said...

Yum! Which of the many Momofuku/Chang outposts would you recommend by the way?

Hollow Legs said...

Roym - hurray! I wondered how this would go down with my guests (who are very much Sunday roast dinner types) and thankfully it went down very well indeed.

Patrick - OOF. Brilliant.

Katy - I've only been to Ssam Bar and Noodle Bar, of these I'd recommend the latter. I'd really like to try Ma Peche.

Katy Salter @ Pinch of Salt said...

Was thinking the noodle bar, thanks! Ps like the new header.

PDH said...

Nice work! Will definitely give this a go, sounds lush.

S said...

pureed kimchi? that sounds crazy delicious. why did my parents brainwash me into now liking pork? this looks so scrummy and fun to eat. x s

Chris Pople said...

I can't believe I've STILL not tried your homemade kimchee! Looks awesome.

Hollow Legs said...

Katy - GAH! I meant the former! D'oh. Both are good though.

Paul - thanks! Chang's original recipe calls for oysters too, to eat along with it in case you're interested.

S - It is very good indeed. I'm sure you could do this with something other than pork... beef brisket perhaps?

Chris - alas, your time has now passed for it is all gone...

Helen said...

I'm pretty sure I should have been invited for this, I mean I DID OFFER to help you move. That's at least one lettuce cup right there ;)

ginandcrumpets said...

That's possibly the nicest 'thank you for helping me move meal' ever. Certainly tops the cup of tea and broken chocolate digestive I usually offer. I feel I've shortchanged people now.

Talei said...

GOD. That looks AMAZING. Excuse the capitals... but like, YUM.

Hollow Legs said...

Helen - ah yes, good point - you DID offer! I'll just have to make another one.

G&C - ph dear. I've ruined it for all movers now, haven't I!

Talei - Capitals are FINE! Glad you like it :)