Momofuku Bossam (or Bo ssam) is David Chang’s famous dish from his Momofuku restaurant in New York. It’s an epic centrepiece consisting of slow cooked pork roast with an insane caramelised crust, served with condiments for DIY fully loaded Korean lettuce wraps.
A showstopper made for sharing, astonishingly simple, fun to eat and eye-rollingly delicious. Momofuku charges US$250 for the privilege of eating it. This costs a fraction of that!
Momofuku Bossam (or Bo ssam)
Momofuku Bossum is Chef David Chang’s famous version of a traditional Korean pork dish called Bossam which consists of thinly sliced pork belly simmered in a seasoned broth that are then used to make lettuce wraps.
A signature dish at his New York restaurant Momofuku, he makes it using a pork shoulder that’s been dry cured overnight so it’s seasoned all the way through, slow roasted for 5 to 6 hours until fall apart tender then blasted at the end with a brown sugar rub which forms an epic caramelised crust.
It’s a formidable centrepiece made for sharing, an eating experience you’ll remember for years to come. If you have it at Momofuku, it will cost you a whopping US$250 (that’s A$350!!!). But it’s obscenely easy to make. You don’t even need to make a trip to the Asian store! (Yes, really)
The pork is dry cured overnight so it’s seasoned all the way through from end to end, then slow cooked for 5 – 6 hours until fall apart tender.
What is served with Bossam
Here are all the components that make up David Chang’s Momofuku Bossam:
Slow roasted pork – dry cured overnight then slow roasted for 5 to 6 hours, the meat is seasoned all the way through and fall apart tender, and encased with an insane crispy brown sugar crust that everybody fights over;
Ginger shallot sauce – made with a LOT of ginger, this seals the deal;
Spicy Ssam sauce – the only part that calls for Asian grocery ingredients, but is not a critical part of the overall Bossam experience and is easily replaceable with any hot sauce or chilli paste;
Rice and kimchi (spicy Korean pickled cabbage) – for stuffing into the lettuce wraps;
Oysters – might sound strange but it works! Taken from the traditional way of serving Bossam in Korea, raw oysters are stuffed into the lettuce wraps. It’s like a little “surprise inside” when you get to it. Fabulous textural and flavour contrast; and
Soft lettuce leaves – to stuff everything in, bundle up and devour.
What you need
Here’s what you need to make the slow cooked pork – 4 ingredients!
Best cut is Pork Butt aka Boston Butt which the upper part of the pork shoulder. Butt is the ideal cut because:
it’s BIG, as in 3.5 – 4kg / 7-8 lb, and it needs to be so it can sustain the long cook time required to achieve the signature thick caramelised crust without the meat inside become less juicy than ideal; and
it’s an even rectangle shape so it cooks through evenly.
🇦🇺Australia – get this cut at butchers or Costco (it’s very good value).
How to make Momofuku Bossam
And here’s how to make it:
Dry cure with just salt and sugar for 24 to 36 hours (ie rub with salt and sugar, refrigerate);
Slow roast for 5 – 6 hours at 150°C/300°F or until fork tender;
Cover with brown sugar and blast in hot oven for 10 minutes to create the brown sugar crust;
Shred and serve with sauces and sides to make lettuce wraps – see below for sauces.
Sauces for Bossam
The two sauces served with Momofuku Bossam are:
Ginger Shallot Sauce (aka Ginger Scallion Sauce) – this is actually a traditional sauce served with other dishes across Asia (eg Hainanese Chicken); and
Ssam Sauce – a spicy red sauce made with Korean chilli pastes. Easy substitute with any chilli paste or hot sauce.
Ginger Shallot Sauce
Just a handful of ingredients – just mix and leave to soften for just 20 minutes or so.
Spicy Ssam Sauce
This is the spicy red chilli sauce made with Korean chilli pastes (Gochujang and Ssamjang) and will require a trip to a Korean grocery store or large Asian store to get them. Once you have them, it’s a simple mix job.
But do NOT fret if you can’t get these chilli pastes. You don’t use a lot of the Spicy Ssam Sauce so it’s absolutely not a big deal at all to just substitute it with a simple hot sauce, chilli paste or even Sriracha!
Do NOT worry if you can’t get Gochujang and Ssamjang. Just use your favourite chilli paste, Sriracha or a hot sauce instead – you just want some kind of spicy sauce for the wrap!
How to serve Bossam
Bossam is a DIY affair. Place the magnificent slow cooked pork on a large platter (or tray, as I have done) and surround it with all the sauces and sides that are used to make the lettuce wraps:
Ginger Shallot Sauce (Scallion);
Spicy Ssam Sauce – or Sriracha, hot sauce or chilli paste;
Oysters – for the full Momofuku experience;
Kimchi – just store bought for me, quite widely available nowadays;
Rice (out of frame – oops! 😂); and
Soft lettuce leaves – or crispy if you prefer.
Then let everyone tear into the meat and gear yourself up for a fight over that incredible crust (I’ll take anyone on to get my fair share)…
…and make your own fully loaded Korean Lettuce Wraps. The Momofuku way.
This iconic Bossam recipe is David Chang’s, from his cookbook Momofuku. It’s also been shared in various online publications, including the New York Times.
This recipe follows the published recipe, but with some helpful tips and adjustments we’ve made after making this multiple times over the years. For example, the Ssam sauce as written in NYT has way too much vinegar. There’s way too much salt in the dry rub (you end up throwing half out), and we’ve figured out how to get that brown sugar crust perfect – without setting off your smoke alarm!
That’s enough from me. Now it’s your turn to impress the pants off your family and friends! – Nagi x
Watch how to make it
Momofuku Bossam (Korean Slow Cooked Pork Shoulder Roast)
Slow Cooked Pork:
- 3.5-4 kg/ 7-8 lb pork butt / shoulder , bone in & skinless (Note 1)
- 1/2 cup (110g) white sugar
- 1/2 cup (115g) kosher or cooking salt (NOT table salt) (Note 2)
Brown Sugar Crust:
- 1 tbsp kosher or cooking salt (NOT table salt) (Note 2)
- 7 tbsp brown sugar , light or normal (not dark)
Ginger Shallot Sauce:
- 2.5 cups scallions , thinly sliced (both green and white parts, ~5-6 stems)
- 1/2 cup fresh ginger , peeled and finely grated (Note 3)
- 1/3 cup canola oil (Note 4)
- 1.5 tsp light soy sauce (or all purpose, not dark soy sauce Note 5)
- 1 teaspoon sherry vinegar (Note 6)
- 1/2 tsp kosher or cooking salt , to taste (Note 2)
Spicy Ssam Sauce (Note 7):
- 2 tbsp ssamjang (Note 8)
- 1 tbsp gochujang (Note 8)
- 5 tsp sherry vinegar (Note 6)
- 2 tbsp canola oil (Note 4)
- 1 tbsp water
- 1 tsp white sugar
- 4 - 5 heads butter/bib lettuce (40 - 50+ leaves, Note 9)
- 3 cups cooked white rice
- 500g/1lb kimchi
- 12 + oysters , raw, in shell (optional, Note 10)
Bossam Slow Cooked Pork:
- Mix sugar and salt together. Pat pork dry. Coat pork in sugar salt mixture, getting it into all the crevices. Rub/pat well to adhere as best you can - discard excess salt unused/falls off (usually ~ 2-3 tbsp).
- Place in a glass dish (Note 13), cover loosely with cling wrap and refrigerated 24 - 36 hours (Note 11).
- Preheat oven to 150°C/300°F (all oven types) with rack in the middle of oven.
- Remove pork from fridge - surface will be wet. Either transfer pork to clean pan (metal, ceramic or glass) or drain off excess liquid / scrape out salt/sugar in same glass pan. Do not rinse pork.
- Roast 5 hours (Note 12), uncovered, spooning over pan juices once each hour, until you can easily pull the meat apart with 2 forks (check on side).
- Remove from oven, rest for 10 minutes (up to 1 hour is fine, loosely cover in foil).
- Turn oven up to 260°C/500°F (all oven types).
Brown Sugar Crust:
- Mix brown sugar and salt.
- Spoon juices all over pork.
- Spoon sugar onto pork and use your hands to make it stick to the top and sides (not underneath). Make layer on top as even as you can (for even caramelisation).
- Place in oven for 10 minutes until surface is a deep golden crust, sugar is bubbling and caramelised (see VIDEO!). Keep a close eye on it from 5 minutes. If the highest points start getting black, cover with small piece of foil (just stick it on).
- Remove from oven and transfer to serving platter for serving. (Don't use pan juices, it will be salty from brine)
- Ginger Shallot Sauce: Mix ingredients in bowl and stand for 20 minutes to let it soften.
- Ssam Sauce: Mix ingredients together. Oil will naturally separate over time if sauce is left to stand, just mix again to reincorporate.
- Place pork on serving platter with lettuce, oysters, kimchi, rice, Ginger Shallot Sauce and Ssam Sauce on the side.
- Attack the pork - it will shred easily. Shred as much or little as you want, let people do it themselves or you can do it for them. Prepare to fight over the epic crust.
- To eat, place lettuce in hand. Spoon in some rice, top with pulled pork, small piece of kimchi, oyster, some ginger shallot sauce then finally a little drizzle of spicy Ssam sauce.
- Bundle up, bite and enjoy!
Volume - easily makes 50+ lettuce wraps. Just get as much lettuce as you want to serve, knowing there's enough pork for over 50 lettuce wraps (leftover pork is sensational) 10. Oysters - raw oysters are served with traditional bossam, it's part of the eating experience! It's like a "surprise inside" when you're munching through the lettuce wrap and come across the oyster, great textural contrast. Bit indulgent to have an oyster for every piece of lettuce so just provide as much as you're willing to indulge in. 11. Brining/curing time - minimum 6 hours, 12 hours ok, 24 - 36 hours optimum, 48 hours ok too (especially if using 4.5kg/9lb pork) DO NOT rinse pork after curing. You should only use enough sugar/salt rub so it sticks to the pork, don't layer it on thickly on the surface. Recipes that suggest rinsing are probably using the wrong salt/sugar amount published in NYT and other media publications which is way too much (see Note 13 for more info). 12. Internal temp of pork is irrelevant in slow roasting because the internal temp doesn't change once cooked beyond well done, but meat can still be tough. Need time not temperature for meat to become fall apart. Oven types - for slow roasting at low temps, I find the same temp is required for standard and fan forced/convection. Cook times - original recipe says 6 hours for 3.5 - 5kg / 7 - 10lb pork shoulder. That's a HUGE variation in pork size and the cook times vary - here is the cook times by weight:
- 3.5 - 4kg / 7 - 8lb = 5 hours (best weight for most juicy flesh)
- 4.5/9lb = 5.5 hrs
- 5kg/10lb = 6 hrs
- 2 kg / 4lb = 3 hrs 45 min
- 2.5kg / 5 lb = 4 hrs
- 3kg / 6lb = 4.5 hrs
- Original recipe calls for 1 cup each salt and sugar which is WAY too much. This amount will never stick to the pork so it's wasteful. Sprinkling excess over pork doesn't work either - makes it way too salty. 1/2 cup of each works perfectly - you won't throw out much, seasons the pork perfectly all the way through without being too salty;
- Ssam sauce had way too much vinegar (had 1/2 cup) - way to sour; and
- Cook time - original recipe says 6 hrs for 3.5-5kg/7-10lb pork. That range is too broad - 3.5kg/7lb pork for 6 hours = dry. Found that 3.5-4kg/7-8lb for 5 hrs is perfect, cook times for other weights in Note 12.
The Spicy Side of Life: Korean recipes
Life of Dozer
There’s just no words to tell you how excited/hopeful Dozer was around such an enormous piece of meat.
Did he get some?🤔 Watch today’s recipe video to see!!!