Korean Pork-Belly Wraps (Bo Ssam)

Korean Pork-Belly Wraps (Bo Ssam)
Let everyone build their own lettuce wraps at the table, starting with a slice of tender boiled pork belly.Thomas Payne

In this traditional Korean dish, pork belly is poached with soybean paste and plenty of aromatics for flavor, then sliced and served with all kinds of accompaniments at the table. Try to get a little bit of each filling in a leaf of lettuce or perilla before wrapping: a chunk of meat with a dab of ssamjang and a smidge of salted shrimp, a piece of kimchi, a sliver of garlic, and a slice of chile. The kimchi can be swapped out for musaengchae, a spicy radish salad you can find at Korean markets.

This recipe comes from chef Michael Kim of Maum in Palo Alto, CA.

Equipment

Korean Pork-Belly Wraps (Bo Ssam)
In this classic Korean dish, pork belly is boiled in a flavorful brine of doenjang (Korean fermented soybean paste) and aromatics until juicy and tender, then served with lettuce and the traditional accompaniments for wrapping.
Yield: serves 6
Time: 2 hours, 15 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 cup sake
  • ½ cup mirin
  • 12 medium garlic cloves
  • 3 large shallots (8 oz.), peeled and thinly sliced (1¾ cups)
  • 1 piece fresh ginger (1 oz.), peeled and thinly sliced (¼ cup)
  • ¾ cup doenjang (Korean fermented soybean paste)
  • 1 Tbsp. kosher salt
  • 4 lb. center-cut pork belly, skin removed, cut crosswise against the grain into 4-inch strips
  • Green- or red-leaf lettuce, perilla leaves, thinly sliced garlic and fresh Korean green chiles, saewoo jut (Korean salted shrimp), for serving
  • Store-bought or homemade ssamjang (Korean barbecue paste), for serving
  • Store-bought or homemade kimchi, for serving

Instructions

  1. In a large pot over medium-high heat, add the sake and mirin, and bring to a boil. Cook until the alcohol evaporates, about 2 minutes. Add the garlic, shallots, and ginger, and return to a boil. Add the doenjang, salt, and 8 cups cold water. Return to a boil, then adjust the heat to maintain a low simmer. Cook until the aromatics are soft and the stock is very flavorful, 35–40 minutes.
  2. Set a fine-mesh strainer over a large, heat-resistant bowl. Strain the stock, discarding the solids. Wash out the pot. Return the stock to the pot, and add the pork. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then adjust the heat to maintain a low simmer. Cook until the pork is cooked through and tender but not falling apart, 55–60 minutes. Turn off the heat and let the pork rest in the stock for 10 minutes.
  3. Using tongs or a slotted spoon, transfer the pork to a large cutting board. Cool and reserve the stock for another use or discard. Slice the pork with the grain into 2½-inch chunks, then slice the chunks against the grain into ⅓-inch-thick slices. Transfer to a platter and serve with lettuce, perilla leaves, garlic, chiles, saewoo jut, ssamjang, and kimchi.