I’ve been putting off making the bo ssäm for a while now, for reasons I’m not too sure of. It might have been the idea that Chang’s bo ssäm is quintessentially Momofuku or because I haven’t bothered to find myself a bone in Boston pork butt. Excuses aside, I finally gave my butcher a call and had him order me an extremely large piece of meat.
Twelve pounds of meat to be exact. Twelve pounds seemed like entirely too much for the intimate party of five I was inviting over for dinner so the nice butcher said he’d cut it in half to a sizeable six pounds. Mike wanted to go for five, but I figured one pound of bone and a pound of meat each. My justification: people eat more than one pound of chicken wings at a time, don’t they?
Making bo ssäm at home is dead simple. In fact, going to the butcher to pick up the pork butt might have been the most laborious part of making the bo ssäm, aside from being tortured by the delicious smell of slow roasting pork for over six hours.
Warning: staying in the house while making this will have you smelling like pork. Your clothes, your hair, your skin will all have that identifiable smell of meat. It’ll get so that you don’t even notice the smell until guests start arriving claiming, “it smells amazing in here!”
Don’t pat yourself on the back too quickly though, because after you rub on your final brown sugar salt crust and turn the oven up to 500˚F to create a crisp crust, the fire alarm will inevitably go off and guests will rush around waving tea towels and try to use a plastic bag to cover the smoke detector.
After the smoke’s gone and your sitting with your glorious piece of meat, you’ll note that it’s all worth it. The seemingly brunt brown sugar crust is phenomenal in the way that only caramelized brown sugar and meat can be. It’s the perfect meaty blank canvas for the bunch of sauces served along side.
The idea is everyone makes their own lettuce wraps with the melty, almost cottony soft, fall off the bone pork, rice and sauce. Sauce-wise, there’s an actual ssäm sauce recipe in the book, which turned out too vinegary for my tastes, but was well received by others. Personally, I loved my wrap with rice, kimchi puree and ginger scallion sauce best.
There wasn’t much conversation after we started eating, just a couple of “wows” and a lot of “mmms.” When the table goes silent with contentment, you know you’ve done a good job.