YOUR BIRTHDAY CAKE SHOULD BE BO SSÄM
The pork is oozing in the middle of a sheet tray with a trail of brown sugar glaze circling around it. All of the juice that’s been kept inside all day is finally getting a chance to breathe outside where the pork is cooling. The spritely cook is coming down from the previous evening’s champagne and go-go dancers and apologizes for the presentation. “When you get this at Momofuku it usually comes with six oysters. I wasn’t feeling that.” I’m looking at slow-cooked pork realness, and she’s apologizing for it! And it’s not even my birthday!
Being the amazing person she is, not only did Jenn de La Vega cook for us in honor of her own birthday, she managed to pick one of the most ambitious centerpieces. Bo ssäm, a slow-cooked pork butt served as a communal dinner in Korea, is like a barbecue, taco party, and salad bar all in one. The main pork slow cooks for six to eight hours before finishing in the oven with a caramelized brown sugar glaze, making it easy to peel apart like barbecue and pile into whatever vessel or mouth awaits. Serving bo ssäm requires a couple of friends (this guy said yes!) and a little assembly. After the pork’s peeled and shredded, you pile on steamed rice and some sauces. Jenn had made some ramp oil the day before and a little sherry vinegar with gochujang. All of this carby meaty goodness goes onto a lettuce leaf because, you know, green things.
You roll it up like a taco. You pour on some more sauce. You get messy. And the birthday girl is happy.
Needless to say, I’m really excited to say Jenn de la Vega is our new editor-at-large. She’s been a longtime Put A Egg On It contributor, hosting our annual Thanksgiving Leftover Sandwich Competition, flipping egg sammies at parties, and constantly schooling us in Filipino food and life in general. She runs her own site called Randwiches, where she makes random sandwiches, does pop-up dinners, catering and many other cool things. We’ll be seeing more of her and her madcap projects soon, and I can’t wait to try them out.
Welcome aboard, Jenn!
Recipes Below, after the photos!
BO SSÄM PORK
Largely adapted from NYT's Momofuku Bo Ssam. For the pork, I ignored the first half of the recipe. Instead, I cured the pork with a quarter of the suggested amounts overnight. Then in the morning, I placed the butt in a slow cooker on high for 4 hours. Once we were ready to eat, I drained the roast, transferred it to a pan and skipped to step 6. Then I made a ramp oil and a miso "ssam" sauce to drizzle on the pork.
1 bunch of ramps, white parts sliced into rings*
1 thumb of peeled, minced fresh ginger
¼ cup olive oil
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon sherry vinegar
salt to taste
Mix together in a bowl and refrigerate. Optional to blend in a food processor for smooth texture. *If I hadn't already planned a project with the ramp greens, I'd have put them in.
MISO "SSÄM SAUCE"
tablespoo of light miso
1 tablespoon gochujang
½ cup sherry vinegar
½ cu olive oil
Whisk the miso and gochujang pastes before adding add the rest. It will separate, so give it a good stir before using.
Photos by Sarah Keough