When I first moved to KL, there was a period of time I kept visiting different Korean restaurants thanks to my Korean friend (yeah singular). Of these, Daorae Korean BBQ Restaurant is probably the most convenient since it’s nice and close to us, right next to our neighbourhood. I won’t ever get tired of the usual Korean Pancakes, Pork Bulgogi or Kimchi Jigae; but when I was introduced to this particular dish, I wonder why I’ve never tried it before as it’s right up my alley.
Introducing Bo Ssäm, a traditional Boiled/Braised Pork dish commonly eaten wrapped up in lettuce or cabbage. There’s an extra fun element when enjoying this dish and the textural contrast keeps it interesting. The accompanying Ssamjang is strong in flavour and works in harmony with the spicy kimchi and delicate pork. So good!
I have since forgotten about this dish until I saw a few pictures by Meena on my instagram feed recently during her visits to her favourite Korean restaurant. I decided to try making it at home after surveying a few recipes online. The first time, I didn’t bother with specific sauce for this dish: Ssamjang; and went with only Gochujang. It was good, but something was missing. Hence I didn’t think the recipe was worthy of sharing.
So despite being largely Paleo, I went and bought a container of Doenjang (fermented soy bean paste) to complete the dish. Since it’s fermented, I figured it is less evil then non-fermented soy beans (think good bacteria.. etc). Since I already have Gochujang at home, it’s easy to make my own Ssamjang. Turns out it does make a world of difference. Having the Doenjang in the brine for the Pork also adds extra depth of flavour too. By the way, the whole dish is extremely easy to make! Since the pork is simply boiled, what’s left to do is a little bit of chopping and slicing. No sweat at all.
So here’s a pretty good Bo Ssäm recipe for you:
Braised Pork Belly (adapted from Korean Bapsang)
500g Pork Belly
1/2 medium onion
2 white parts of Spring Onions
5-6 cloves of Garlic
1 inch ginger piece, sliced
1 teaspoon whole Black Peppers
1 tablespoon Doenjang (fermented soybean paste)
1 teaspoon of Instant Coffee (update: I use brewed Espresso nowadays and this is optional, don’t add it if it Wo keep you up at night)
1 Bay Leaf
Enough water to cover the pork belly
Place all the ingredients in a pot and bring to a boil over medium high heat, and continue to boil for about 20 minutes, uncovered. Reduce the heat to medium low, and cook, covered, until the meat is very tender, 40 to 50 minutes. Turn the heat off, and cool the meat in the cooking liquid. This will keep the meat moist.
(Alternatively, cook in Pressure cooker for about 25mins)
Keep any leftover meat in the cooking liquid. Boil the meat in the liquid to reheat. This prevents the meat from drying out.
Ssamjang can be used with Beef, Pork and even just Plain rice wrapped in lettuce. It’s extremely umami, and a little bit goes a long way. This recipe tastes exactly like how I remembered it to be. It’s a keeper!
Ssamjang (adapted from Maangchi)*
2 tablespoons Doenjang (fermented soy bean paste)
1 tablespoon Gochujang (hot pepper paste)
1 stalk of Spring Onion, chopped
1 clove of Garlic, minced
1 tablespoon minced Onion
Sprinkling of toasted Sesame Seeds
1 teaspoon Sesame Oil
Simply mix everything together!
Lettuce leaves (I used Baby Romaine, feel free to pick your favourite leaves, or use Boiled Cabbage)
Kimchi (either cabbage or radish)
Optional: extra garlic cloves and sliced chili if you like extra kick.
When ready to serve, slice the pork thinly and arrange on the plate with lettuce and kimchi, with Ssamjang on the side.
To enjoy Bo Ssäm, take a lettuce leaf, place one or two slices of pork along with a smear of Ssamjang and some Kimchi on, then fold up and eat. It can be a little messy if you are not careful, but that’s the fun bit right?