Momofuku's Bo Ssäm recipe

Bo Ssäm is a popular dish in Korean cuisine in which steamed pork and various accompaniments are wrapped in leafy greens such as lettuce or sesame leaf. The word ssäm literally means “wrapped”. It is usually served with a thick, spicy paste known as ssämjang and several small side dishes, or banchan, such as kimchi, pickles and rice.


In Chang’s version, the pork is coated with a sugar and salt dry rub and roasted at low heat, barbecue-style, for many hours, until it can just be pulled from the bone with a fork. The rest of his bo ssäm “package” includes his version of ssämjang, raw oysters, Ginger-Scallion Sauce, rice and kimchi. I wasn’t originally convinced about the oysters, but then I read several accounts of how magical they are with the pulled pork. Still, I wasn’t about to deal with shucking fresh oysters in my kitchen. Oyster shuckers and I have been proven to be a dangerous combination! Luckily, one thing I can always find around here are freshly shucked oysters, neatly stored in plastic containers. I popped into Walt's and picked some up.

I didn’t make my own kimchi either. {{{hanging my head in shame}}} Instead, I bought some at a local Asian market. The owners are Korean and they make several kinds of kimchi fresh from scratch every day. It is really good, too! I knew that any kimchi I could whip up wouldn’t be nearly as good as theirs, so I decided that was the way to go.

The thing is, that by taking little shortcuts like this, a time and labor intensive meal like bo ssäm doesn’t seem so daunting. Thus, you might be more likely to actually try it at home. And, while it is always admirable to make each component of every dish yourself, it isn’t always necessary. I’m not talking Semi-Homemade here. I’m just saying that outsourcing a few things sometimes isn’t the end of the world.

As far as recipes go, Chang’s pulled pork isn’t difficult at all to prepare. The hardest part is waiting for the pig to cook. But, this also gives you lots of time to prepare the side dishes and sauces. It also gives you lots of time to do the laundry, water your plants, pay some bills or take a little nap. (I skipped right on over to that last one!) And, I have to tell you that this pork is so very juicy and succulent – utterly amazing! A total foodgasm if there ever was one!

Presenting, the naked pork:


Here’s what it looked like wearing its salt and sugar rub:


Here it is at the halfway mark:


And, here it is out of the oven and all ready to jump on your plate:


Oh, baby!


And, as if it could possibly get any better, get this. This whole meal, which feeds at least eight people, cost me about $36.45 to make – including the oysters and the store-bought kimchi! Can you believe it? That gorgeous ten pound pork shoulder only set me back $16.50! Momofuku Ssäm Bar charges $180.00 for this “dining experience”, which rounds out to about $22.50 per person for eight people, not including tax and tip. I was able to do it for $4.55 per person. Sure, the ambiance in my dining room probably isn’t as cool as Momofuku’s, but who cares! The point is that you can create this fabulous feast in your own home for a fraction of what it costs to go out. My cost was about 20% of what I would have paid at ANY decent restaurant, which leaves a nice chunk of change left over for Mama to get herself a new pair of shoes!

Trust me, people! You need to try this! Seriously! You do!

Bo Ssäm (adapted from Momofuku)


1 (8- to 10-pound) bone-in pork shoulder or pork butt

1 cup granulated sugar

1 cup plus 1 tablespoon coarse salt

7 tablespoons light-brown sugar

12 oysters, shucked, for serving

1 cup Napa Cabbage Kimchi, for serving

1 cup Napa Cabbage Kimchi, pureed, for serving

1 cup Ginger Scallion Sauce, for serving (see recipe here)

1 cup Ssäm Sauce, for serving (recipe follows)

2 cups steamed short-grain white rice, for serving

3 to 4 heads Bibb lettuce, leaves separated, washed well, and spun dry

Sea salt


1. Place pork in a large bowl or roasting pan. In a medium bowl, mix together granulated sugar and 1 cup coarse salt. Rub sugar mixture all over pork and cover bowl with plastic wrap; transfer to refrigerator for at least 6 hours and up to overnight.

2. Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

3. Transfer pork to a large roasting pan, discarding any accumulated juices (or drain accumulated juices from roasting pan that pork is in). Transfer roasting pan to oven and cook, basting every hour with rendered fat in roasting pan, until meat is tender and easily shredded with a fork, about 6 hours.

4. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix together remaining tablespoon coarse salt and brown sugar; rub mixture all over pork.

5. Increase oven temperature to 500 degrees. Return pork to oven until sugar has melted into a crisp crust, 10 to 15 minutes.

6. Serve hot with oysters, kimchi, Ginger Scallion Sauce, Ssäm Sauce, rice, lettuce, and sea salt.

Serves 6 to 10.

Momofuku's Ssäm Sauce


1 tablespoon ssamjang (Korean soybean and chile-pepper paste)

1 1/2 teaspoons kochujang (Korean chile-pepper paste)

1/4 cup sherry-wine vinegar

1/4 cup grapeseed oil


Combine all ingredients together in a medium bowl and stir until evenly mixed. Sauce will keep covered in the fridge for weeks.

Makes 1 cup.


Still hungry? Come visit me at Sticky, Gooey, Creamy, Chewy, friend me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter!

Okay, I'll admit it. I'm beginning to develop an unhealthy fascination with Chef David Chang of Momofuku fame. After I got my feet wet with Chang's Ginger Scallion Noodles, I caved and bought the book. And, I’m so glad I did! It’s a beautiful book and a very entertaining read. As I forked over my forty bucks at Borders, I figured that even if I never made one more recipe from the book, it was still worth the price.

But, of course I did try another Momofuku recipe, and it was a doozy. This one is really going to knock your ever lovin’ socks off because it features pork! And, not just any old pork either. Nosiree! I’m talking about a big old hunk of pork butt cooked low and slow for hours and hours, until it’s gorgeously caramelized and falling off the bone tender. I’m talking about the pork in David Chang’s celebrated Bo Ssäm!


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