This is one my favourite dishes I’ve ever made. Not only for its taste and texture, but also for the cooking process and seeing the butcher’s face when this little girl asked him for a 5 kg pork shoulder.
We – 4 guys, 2 girls – had this for a Saturday lunch a couple of weeks ago and because two guys had requested to have lunch early (they were going to have all-you-can-eat shrimps a couple of hours later – can you imagine), it ensured that I got up very early. I already showed my male housemates the pork shoulder the evening before. They got really excited seeing such a mounstrous big piece of meat and they didn’t eat anything until the pork was on the table the next day at noon. I’d put the pork in the middle of the table so everyone could pull some pork of the shoulder with their fork. The girls gave up pretty early, but the boys kept eating till there was almost no pork left – seriously, there was really almost no pork left.
This recipe is one of the least demanding recipes in the Momofuku cookbook. After you’ve put the pork in the oven, you’ve six hours to make the accompaniments. Even if you’re a really slow cook, I can’t imagine it will take you that long. After it comes out of the oven, the pork is freaking hot – so don’t be too greedy. The meat is really tender and juicy and the sugar-salt crust on top is just undescribebly delicious and addictive. To eat it, you just pull some pork with your fork and put it on a leave of lettuce. Top with the accompaniments you prefer, wrap it and indulge. If you share the Bo Ssäm with more than 6 people – which I would recommend – it isn’t expensive either. So if you want to trow a dinner for lots of people where everyone can put together their own bites – this is the thing you want to make.
Recipe from Momofuku by David Chang and Peter Meehan.
1 whole 3,6-5 kg bone in pork shoulder – My shoulder was 5kg
200 g granulated sugar
140 g plus 1 tbsp course sea salt
7 tbsp light brown sugar
260 g kimchi**
225 g ginger spring onion sauce***
400 g short-grain rice
3-4 heads Bibb lettuce, leaves separated, well washed and spun dry
Maldon or other high-quality coarse sea salt
*David Chang also suggests oysters, Ssäm sauce and puréed kimchi, but due to laziness and having no money left, I left them out. Because I don’t like kimchi myself, I added the amazing sriracha sauce to my lettuce wraps.
** I didn’t feel like making my own kimchi – especially because I don’t like it – so I’ve used store-bought.
*** Recipe below.
Put the pork shoulder in a roasting pan, ideally one that holds it snugly. Mix together the granulated sugar and 140 g of the salt in a bowl, then rub the mixture into the meat; discard any excess salt-and-sugar mixture. Cover the pan with cling film and put in into the fridge for at least 6 hours, or overnight.
Heat the oven to 150˚C/Gas 2. Remove the pork from the fridge and discard any juices that have accumulated. Put the pork in the oven and cook for 6 hours, basting with the rendered fat and 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 is rest and mellow out at room temperature for up to an hour – Even an hour after we’d started attacking the meat, it was still steaming and really hot.
When ready to serve (=all your accompaniments are prepared), turn the oven to 250˚C/gas 10, or highest setting.
Stir together the remaining 1 tbsp salt and brown sugar and rub the mixture all over the pork. Put it in the oven for 10-15 minutes, until the sugar has melted into a crisp, sweet crust.
Serve the pork shoulder whole and hot, surrounded with the accompaniments.
Ginger spring onion sauce
Make about 350 g
250 g spring onions (greens and whites; from 1 to 2 bunches), thinly sliced
50 g very finely chopped peeled fresh ginger
4 tbsp neutral oil
1 1/2 tsp light soy sauce
3/4 tsp sherry vinegar
3/4 tsp course sea salt, or more to taste
Mix together the spring onions, ginger, oil, soy, vinegar and salt in a bowl. Taste and check for salt, adding more if needed. Though it’s best after 15-20 minutes of sitting, it’ll be good the moment you stirr everything together. You can leave it in the fridge for a day or two.