bo ssam, like my children’s juicy baby thighs ::::
The first time I heard about bo ssam, Korean roast pork, was from a Korean friend praising the Momofuku fusion version posted in the NY Times cooking section. (And, strangely, as I was prepping the post today, the NY Times “What to Cook Right Now” email column reposted the link for the bo ssam recipe – talk about coincidence!) Not only did she give a thumb’s up for her recent making of it, she also likened the meat to chunky baby thighs, one of which I was holding at the time.
This was Sky-Girl, years ago, when she was a juicy infant, all cheek, rolls, and cankle. We proceeded to coo over her and say “Bo ssam! Bo ssam!” a mantra of the meat’s, and her, deliciousness. I don’t remember her reaction but was probably one of familiar boredom, as much of her babyhood involved various adults wanting to squish her baby softness and look into her curious eyes. That has now all but disappeared into a leggy, but still bright-eyed girl. Peach and Grub as infants had similar reactions to mesmerized adults, though Peach giving a baby eyeroll equivalent, Grub just smiling along.
I’ve gathered hints from the blog My Korean Kitchen (https://mykoreankitchen.com/bo-ssam/ – she’s great!) for the recipe and one of the sauces she offers, as well as how to make perfectly steamed multi-grains (japgokbap) in a pressure cooker from Kimchimari (https://kimchimari.com/multigrain-rice-instant-pot-japgokbap-recipe/ – she’s also great!). Kimchimari also provides a nice list of various grains used for japgokbap. With such a fatty meat, it’s nice to have a side of roughage, a spicy sauce, and some tangy kimchi.
Happy New Year, everyone. Hope 2022 is better than the last two years. We need a breath.
One year ago: carla lalli music’s brothy butter beans from marlow & sons (seriously, so, so good!)
Two years ago: cranberry-orange relish
Three years ago: marbled pound cake
Four years ago: chimichurri
Five years ago: my favorite kale salad
Six years ago: ozoni
Seven years ago: raspberry lemonade bars
Eight years ago: whole orange cake and coffee marshmallows
Nine years ago: oatmeal crackers
Ten years ago: status interruptus
- 2 kg (4.4 pounds) pork butt, with bone and fat, even better if skin (See notes on cook time in instructions.)
- ½ cup sugar
- ½ cup sea salt
- 1 tablespoon sea salt
- 6 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 scant tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- SSAM SAUCE (from My Korean Kitchen website – https://mykoreankitchen.com/bo-ssam/)
- ¼ cup doenjang (Korean soybean paste)
- 2 tablespoons gochujang (Korean chili paste)
- 2 tablespoons sesame oil
- 2 teaspoons honey
- 2 teaspoons toasted sesame seeds
- 1 clove minced garlic
- a small palmful of onion, chopped
- 2 tablespoons walnuts – I’ve used almonds, too
- 1 tablespoon green onion, thinly sliced
- SIDES I SERVE WITH:
- steamed rice – I use the multigrain Korean rice mix, (brown, black, white rice, and sweet rice) (japgokbap). So good! (instructions from https://kimchimari.com/multigrain-rice-instant-pot-japgokbap-recipe/)
- lettuce (Bibb, Gem, Romaine – something with a good bowl shape)
- (My Korean Kitchen also recommends kimchi and spicy Korean coleslaw)
- TO PREPARE: Place the pork in a roasting pan.
- Combine ½ cup of sugar and ½ cup of the salt in a bowl and mix them well. Gently rub the mixture all over the meat. Cover it with plastic wrap then refrigerate it at least 6 hours or overnight. I usually do this overnight.
- TO COOK: Line a roasting pan with foil, for easy clean up later.
- Transfer pork from fridge to lined pan and allow to sit for an hour to warm up slightly. This will help the cooking process.
- While the meat is warming up, preheat oven to 300 deg F.
- Fatty side up, put pork in oven and cook. NOTE: 2 kg of bone-in pork shoulder takes 4 to 4.5 hours to cook.
- Once done, it will be soft and falling apart. The fatty areas will be softened with some crisp.
- WHILE MEAT IS COOKING, MAKE SSAM SAUCE: Put all ingredients, except for the green onion, in a food processor/blender and blend until smooth. Sprinkle with green onion. Refrigerate it until needed.
- COOK MULTIGRAIN RICE (kimchimai.com was spot on with instructions! I use my Instant Pot with a mix of seven grains. Perfect rice every time.)
- Rinse the grains a few times to remove dust and drain.
- Measure a 0.9: 1 ratio of water to dry grains and put into Instant Pot. Sprinkle with salt.
- Close pot lid and lock. Set to “Manual”, “High Pressure”, for 18 minutes.
- When done, vent manually to release steam.
- Keep warm while finishing pork.
- FINISH THE PORK: Combine 1 tablespoon salt, brown sugar and vinegar in a small bowl and mix well.
- Gently rub the mixture all over the cooked pork (top and sides).
- Turn the oven to 500 deg F or broiler
- Cook pork until a dark crust develops, about 5 to 10 mins. Serve hot, with the rice and sauce.