Bo Ssäm

Photo Credit William Hereford


Courtesy of chef David Chang,, Noodle Bar Toronto

1 whole eight to 10pound bone-in Boston pork butt
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup plus 1 Tbsp. kosher salt
7 Tbsps. light brown sugar

1 dozen oysters, shucked
1 cup Napa-cabbage kimchi, pureed*
1 cup ginger-scallion sauce**
Ssäm sauce***
2 cups short-grain rice, cooked
3 to 4 heads Bibb lettuce, leaves separated, well washed, and spun dry
Maldon or other high-quality coarse sea salt

  1. Directions:
    Place the pork shoulder in a roasting pan, ideally one that holds it snugly. Mix together the granulated sugar and 1 cup of the salt in a bowl, then rub the mixture into the meat; discard any excess salt-and-sugar mixture. Cover the pan with plastic wrap and put it into the fridge for at least six hours, or overnight.
  2. Heat the oven to 300 degrees F. Remove the pork from the refrigerator and discard any juices that have accumulated. Put the pork in the oven and cook for six hours, basting with the rendered fat and pan juices every hour. The pork should be tender and yielding at this point — it should offer almost no resistance to the blade of a knife and you should be able to easily pull meat off the shoulder with a fork. Depending on your schedule, you can serve the pork right away or let it rest at room temperature for up to an hour.
  3. When ready to serve — sauces are made, oysters are ready to be shucked, and lettuce is washed, et cetera — turn the oven to 500 degrees F.
  4. Stir together the remaining 1 Tbsp. salt and the brown sugar and rub the mixture all over the pork. Put it in the oven for 10 to 15 minutes, until the sugar has melted into a crisp, sweet crust.
  5. Serve the bo ssäm whole and hot, surrounded by the accompaniments

*Napa Cabbage Kimchi (makes 1 to 1 ½ quarts)
1 small to medium head of Napa cabbage, discolored or loose outer leaves discarded
2 Tbsps. kosher or coarse sea salt
½ cup plus 2 Tbsps sugar
20 garlic cloves, minced
20 slices peeled ginger, minced
½ cup kochukaru (Korean chile powder)
¼ cup fish sauce
¼ cup usukuchi (light soy sauce)
2 tsps. jarred salted shrimp
½ cup one-inch pieces scallions (greens and whites)
½ cup julienned carrots

  1. Directions:
    Cut cabbage in half lengthwise, then cut the halves crosswise into one-inch-wide pieces. Toss the cabbage with the salt and 2 Tbsps. of the sugar in a bowl. Let sit overnight in the refrigerator.
  2. Combine the garlic, ginger, kochukaru, fish sauce, soy sauce, shrimp, and remaining ½ cup sugar in a large bowl. If it is very thick, add water ⅓ cup at a time until the brine is just thicker than a creamy salad dressing but no longer a sludge. Stir in the scallions and carrots.
  3. Drain cabbage and add to the brine. Cover and refrigerate.
    Though the kimchi will be tasty after 24 hours, it will be better in a week and at its prime in two weeks. It will still be good for another couple weeks after that, though it will grow incrementally stronger and funkier.

**Ginger-Scallion Sauce (makes about 3 cups)
2 ½ cups thinly sliced scallions (greens and whites)
½ cup finely minced, peeled fresh ginger
¼ cup grapeseed or other neutral oil
1 ½ tsps. usukuchi (light soy sauce)
¾ tsps. sherry vinegar
¾ tsp. kosher salt, or more to taste

Mix together the scallion, ginger, oil, soy, vinegar, and salt in a bowl. Taste and check for salt, adding more if needed. Though its best after 15 to 20 minutes of sitting, ginger-scallion sauce is good from the minute it’s stirred together up to a day or two in the fridge. Use as directed, or apply as needed.

***Ssäm Sauce (makes 1 cup)
1 Tbsps. ssämjang (fermented bean-and-chile paste)
½ Tbsps. kochujang (chile paste)
¼ cup sherry vinegar
¼ cup grapeseed or other neutral oil

Combine all the ingredients and stir until evenly mixed. Ssäm sauce will keep in the fridge for weeks.

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