Pork Belly Ssäm with Mustard Seed Sauce

Cooking pork belly is pretty joyous. To think, if it wasn’t for Momofuku, I might not have ever discovered the joys of cooking pork belly at home. I don’t know any other food that can make me sigh the way deliciously cooked pork belly does.

The Pork Belly Ssäm definitely fell into the sigh, so good category. A crispy grilled exterior gives way to a fatty, melty, meaty interior. Take a piece and wrap it up in butter lettuce, add a smear of tangy, fresh, slightly spicy mustard seed sauce, and you’re in pork belly heaven.

Pork Belly Ssäm is probably the easiest of the ssäms: no ghetto sous vide, no 6 hour roast, no sausage making. A slab of pork belly is dressed with Chang’s favourite sugar-salt rub, left in the fridge overnight then roasted in the oven before grilling.

I always rinse off the salt and sugar just because I tend to find the meat salty if I don’t. I also don’t roast the way Chang suggests. Instead I roast the belly covered (with parchment paper) at 250˚F for an hour, then uncovered at 350˚F for about half an hour, or until the top gets nice and golden brown.

After the belly’s been roasted, you need to put it in the fridge to chill it before slicing. You can slice without chilling, it just won’t be super-pretty. I was hungry, so I put the belly in the freezer, which firmed it up fast.

Then, just fire up your grill, or your grill pan, which is what I did. I love my grill pan. This is the first time I’ve used it, but I know we’re going to be good friends. I rescued it from my in-laws, who bought it some time ago just to make homemade naan. They made the naan once, and the pan has been languishing in their cupboards ever since. I should invite them over for some homemade naan soon as a thank you for the pan.

My in-laws are hilarious, they get obsessed with a certain kind of food and eat it over and over and over again (ok, admission: I’m exactly the same way). Currently they’re obsessed with naan; they eat it daily.

If naan is their current obsession, mine would be cross-hatched pork belly. This is first time I’ve made crosshatch grill marks! I need to practice though: mine came out a little funny. Luckily, I’m pretty sure you can cross-hatch anything, so I should have plenty to practice on.

The cross-hatched belly is served with mustard seed sauce, which is made from pickled mustard seeds, dijon, Kewpie mayonnaise, green onions, and diced pickled cucumbers. I was a little wary of it, just because the pickled mustard seeds tasted a little funky on their own, but once they were in the sauce, they were great: kind of like little mustard poppy seeds. I happen to love whole grain mustard, and this sauce is like a fresh version.

This was a delicious dish to herald in Spring, because it reminded me of sunny days, barbecues and Summer; that’s my favourite thing about Spring, the fact that it leads right into Summer. I can’t wait until I can pack up the barbecue, head down to the beach and eat Pork Belly Ssäm outside.

25 Comments add yours

  1. That looks delicious and I love all of the beautiful pics! :D

    Thanks Susan!

    steph on March 22nd, 2010 at 11:11 am
  2. Pork belly is also delicious red cooked, chilled, then seared.

    When you grill, you seem to be turning the meat 90 degrees to get the grill marks. Try 45 degrees.

    Also, move the meat to a place that wasn’t holding meat when you do rotate. That spot will be hotter, which means a better sear.

    Thanks for the tip about moving the meat to a new spot, I hadn’t thought of that!

    steph on March 22nd, 2010 at 11:14 am
  3. Yay! I loved this too (although my mustard seed sauce didn’t turn out great, a shame).

    The meat itself was sooooo yummy though!

    steph on March 22nd, 2010 at 11:15 am
  4. omg, I want that for breakfast!

    Hahaha, isn’t this a bit much for breakfast!?!

    steph on March 22nd, 2010 at 11:15 am
  5. I’ve been dreaming of this dish since you told me about it. I like my grill pan too, a great way to get nice sear marks on meat. Thank for sharing this amazing recipe and pics

    No problem Brad. Since you have a grill pan, you should give it a try!

    steph on March 22nd, 2010 at 11:15 am

    I will, I have never cooked pork belly and actually just tried it for the first time a few weeks ago. Your pics are incredible!


    steph on March 22nd, 2010 at 11:46 pm
    Brad on March 22nd, 2010 at 11:18 am
  6. I love the picture of the pork belly pieces perfeclty arranged on the pan. Fun an pretty.

    Thanks! I’m just obsessive-compulsive like that. I like things neat!

    steph on March 23rd, 2010 at 3:23 pm
  7. Congratulations for the top 9! You deserve it!

    Thanks! :D

    steph on March 23rd, 2010 at 3:24 pm
  8. Where/how can I get pickled mustard seed? I’m in King County Washington and went to Uwajimaya today and they didn’t have it. I also can’t find a recipe online and I want to make this 2 days from now. Can you help?

    Not too sure where you can buy it, but you can make it. The ratio is 3:3:2:1, water, rice vingear, yellow mustard seeds, sugar. Salt to taste. You just bring everything to a boil then lower the heat to simmer gently for about 45 minutes. If the mixture drys out add a tiny bit more water. The seeds should be tender when you’re done cooking.

    steph on March 24th, 2010 at 2:28 pm
    Andrea Burrows on March 23, 2010 at 9:52 pm
  9. Totally putting this on my must nom list!

    Nom nom nom. Pork belly is sooooooooo good!

    steph on March 27th, 2010 at 11:58 am
  10. Cooking this right now… can’t wait to try it.

  11. I’ve got my pork belly curing in the fridge and my mustard seeds pickled and ready for deployment. Can’t wait to eat this for dinner tomorow!

  12. So as a follow-up to my post directly above, I made this tonight for myself, my wife and my in-laws, and it was a huge hit! This is a definite repeat, but I am going to take your advice to try and lower the saltiness of the meat, because I found it was a little too salty for our tastes.

    What’s the difference between Kewpie mayonnaise and the standard stuff? I tried tracking it down but they didn’t have any at the Chinese market by me.

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