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Advice for making Bo Ssam (Aka Korean pork shoulder)

I am hosting a dinner party for New Years for my family, should be about 5-8 people. I am going to make Momofoku Bo Ssam (http://www.marthastewart.com/recipe/b...) and I am very excited because I've been wanting to make this for at least a year! (ever since I saw a video of the Working Class Foodies making it at home


My two issues that might require some alternations. First is that I couldn't find bone in pork shoulder and had to get bone less. I assume that means I'd lower the cooking time so I don't over cook the pork (which I am going to do anyway since I got a 7 pound shoulder and the recipe calls for an 8-10)

The other issue that my family is coming in from out of town and I am not sure what our schedule is going to be like new year's day. I don't know if we are going to be out and about. I was debating either pre-cook the shoulder in the oven several days in advance or cooking the shoulder in the crock pot instead of the oven (I know shoulder cooks beautifully in a crock pot but I wouldn't be around to baste it) then warming it up and finish of the crispy crust the night of.

Which would be the better option? How many day in advance could I cook the shoulder if I chose that option?

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  1. Well I ended up cooking it days in advance (and it was a good thing too as my mother in law was hospitalized for a minor emergencyand I had to drop everything and run to the hospital)

    Anyway I cooked it the 6 hours in advance and then the day off i made the sauces and cranked the oven up to 500 and cooked the pork with a brown sugar crust. The end result was very very tasty and well received. I look forward to reading your take on making bo ssam.

    1 Reply
    1. re: msjess

      I'm so excited to come across your posting since I'm in the same boat--I'm making a bo ssam this week but just cannot roast it right before serving and must cook it at least a day ahead.

      Can you give me specifics on what you did? I was planning on roasting for 5-6 hours, removing from the oven & wrapping the whole pan tightly in foil (to keep the juices in) and popping it in the fridge as soon as it's cool enough. Then, on the day of, reheating at a lower temp (250?) for an hour, then cranking up to 500 for the sugar crust.

      Does that sound about like what worked for you? Any advice is appreciated as I'm cooking for a party & terrified that I'm going to serve dry, unrepresentative pork to people who've never had delicious bo ssam.

    2. I recently had the bo ssam dinner and have been dying to try it at home. Just looked over a few recipes and am reviving this thread to ask a few questions of my own.

      1. Most recipes use a dry cure, but I saw one with a liquid brining solution instead. Any thoughts on which might be better?

      2. I think I remember that Ssam Bar left the skin on to get nice a crispy but the recipes take the skin off. Has anyone tried to leave it on?

      28 Replies
      1. re: twinkienic

        Dry cure is my preference. More work, more hassle with brine.

          1. re: vancouverkim

            Dumb Q. I know, but where is the recipe for the Ssam Sauce?

            1. re: Joebob

              You can find the recipe on the Martha Stewart site (link in the original post). I recommend that you place the ingredients for the ginger scallion sauce in a blender instead of mixing in a bowl. This emulsifies the sauce and gives it a creamier texture.

              1. re: vancouverkim

                I'm planning to make this for a superbowl party and am still trying to find a good answer about the skin. It seems that if the skin can be made light and crisp then it would be good to leave it on, but sometimes when i roast a pork shoulder, the skin is tough, not crispy. Is it safer to take it off?

                Also, do I rinse off the dry rub before cooking. Most people seem to, but none of the recipes I've looked at say to do that?

                1. re: missmasala

                  Made this yesterday. The dry rub was not evident after it had sat (and there wasn't as much juice leached out of the meat as I would have expected) so I just put it in the oven as it was. The skin crisped very nicely (I scored it before cooking, my mom always did that and I'm not sure whether it helped, but it didn't hurt). The final brown sugar coating did NOT melt and caramelize in my oven, it just sat there and developed hideous little burned black blisters -- which set off my smoke alarms, OF COURSE!!! What stuck came off when I started cutting the pork.

                  This is one of the best things I have ever made in my life. With the sauces it was amazing. It is crazy sexy food...

                  1. re: buttertart

                    You know what? I have to do two, anyway. (it's a lot of people) I'm gonna do one skin on and one skin off and see which comes out better.

                    And i'll wing it on rinsing the dry rub as well. Since you left the skin on, did you put the dry rub mainly on the underside. or also rub a lot of it into the skin slits?

                    1. re: buttertart

                      No luck with the brown sugar caramelizing here either, but it was totally unnecessary.

                    2. re: missmasala

                      The shoulder in the oven, roasted but pre-brown sugar...

                      1. re: missmasala

                        My experience was different from both buttertart's and david kaplan's. I still had quite a bit of dry rub on the meat when I removed it from the fridge and I just brushed it off; I didn't rinse it. And I had quite a bit of liquid in the bottom of dish; I put the pork in a different pan to bake it.

                        My brown sugar caramelized exactly as the recipe as printed in the NYTimes said it would, and I wouldn't skip that part. My guests were fighting over the parts of the roast where the caramelized sugar stuck to the meat. And my skin did not crisp; neither the skin on the bottom nor the small amount of skin on top near the bone. I didn't score the skin. Sounds like a good idea and I'm going to make a note to do that next time. Thanks, buttertart.

                        1. re: JoanN

                          so you left the skin on but roasted it skin side down?

                          1. re: missmasala

                            Yes, I did. Perhaps a rookie mistake? This was only the second time I'd cooked a pork shoulder. Should I have put it in the oven with the skin on top? But if I had, I wouldn't have had those wonderful pieces of meat with the caramelized sugar.

                            I posted a photo below of what it looked like out of the oven just before I put on the sugar coating: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7546...

                            1. re: JoanN

                              I don't know about mistake, but I've always roasted them skin side up. I guess I assume the skin and fat protect the meat.

                              If I've read people's comments correctly, the general trend seems to be that people who roasted without skin were happy with the brown sugar crust at the end and people with skin were not. If anyone roasted with skin and was happy with their crust/skin, please let me know your technique.

                              I've never had this dish at the restaurant. does anyone know if it comes skin on or skin off when served at momofuku?

                              also, this gets roasted uncovered, right? and would it hurt or help to go a little lower temp and longer?

                              1. re: missmasala

                                As for your last two questions, it definitely gets roasted uncovered. And I don't think my pork would have benefited from longer cooking at lower temp. Mine was fall-apart perfect after six hours @ 300F, basting about once an hour.

                              2. re: JoanN

                                That's very interesting, the skin was dry and crisp and the sugar just sort of lay on top of it. Maybe moistened a bit? Definitely roast with the skin up. The best bits were as glassy and crisp as real Peking duck skin is.
                                I also had it on convection, might have done something abstruse to the caramelization?

                                1. re: buttertart

                                  Forgot to report back about this. Made two of them for the superbowl and basically have realized that this is a foolproof recipe. I'm sure there are better and worse ways of doing this dish, but it's almost impossible to ruin pork shoulder and when it's wrapped up in lettuce with all the other stuff, people are going to love it no matter what. everyone raved about the meal and there was no pork left.
                                  I bought my pork in an asian market and then worked hard to try to get the butcher to score it for me, as my knives at home are two dull for that. He did, but he ended up cutting into the meat on top as well. Then used the dry rub amount for both shoulders instead of doubling it, and even then it seemed like too much. Did rinse the next day, but the rub had pretty much already disappeared. Dried the skin with a blow dryer (found that tip in a Guardian article) and then then roasted. Put the final glaze on, but within 5 minutes one of my shoulders had blackened skin, so pulled it out. The glaze had worked in some places but in others the sugar was still just sitting there. The skin was pretty good and it all tasted great, though. I think if I wanted perfection I would cut the skin off at the end, glaze the meat, and roast the skin separately next to the meat, so that I could have delicious skin and glazed meat all at the same time. Still curious if it comes skin on or off at momofuku.
                                  What else? I did the ginger scallion sauce in the blender and found it overpowering, but it worked with the meat--prob if you use the blender you should adjust the amounts. I didn't find the ssam sauce too vinegary at all, but also I think I bought the wrong things at the korean supermarket. Still, the sauce was spicy and good. Also made some quick-pickled cucumbers with it, which were a big hit.
                                  I usually make an NC-style chopped BBQ meal for the superbowl and I can say that this was a lot less work--in fact, I was amazed at how little hands-on cooking time there was. Partly it's because I bought the kim chee whereas with the BBQ I make the coleslaw and also a lot more sides (potato salad takes more time to make than rice) Next time I think I might steam some mantou and serve those alongside as well. And there will definitely be a next time!

                                  1. re: missmasala

                                    If you like to score the Pig's skin for any pork or ham roasts.....use a razor blade knife, e.g., a box cutter or utility knife. It's sharper and you can set the depth of the cut without fear of reaching the meat....if that's your goal.

                                    1. re: fourunder

                                      Good idea. I used my trusty Kiwi cleaver.

                                      1. re: fourunder

                                        I saw on this thread that someone said to use a utility knife, but i couldn't locate mine, so thought i would make it easier on myself by having butcher do it. and i was worried about him slicing into the meat because recipes always say not to do that, but it was just fine. In the end, what it made me realize is that pork shoulder is impossible to mess up. roast a pork shoulder any which way and serve it with anything and people will eat it up.

                      2. re: twinkienic

                        hey everyone,
                        i made it for the first time this weekend and it was giant hit!
                        i left the skin on and cooked it bone it for about 5.5 hours.
                        my biggest question has to do with the last step.
                        i followed the instructions and slathered on the brown sugar and a little salt and cranked up the oven to 500. I put the pan back in on the lower rack. Unfortunately, instead of the brown sugar candying in a pleasant brown sugary way, it kinda burned in spots in a nasty burny way. Some of the brown sugar didn't even really cook at all. basically, it was either burned or powdery, but not laquery. I'm wondering if more moisture was needed somehow. Should i have basted the rub with some pan juices? not really sure what went wrong... any tips would be greatly appreciated.

                        1. re: schnapp


                          Funny I found this thread as I was going to post something very similar to your experience and I would love to hear others' feedback on this.

                          For starters, I actually left the salt/sugar 'brine' on this and it ended up being the downfall for me. I can double check my book but it didn't say to remove this and a few other blogs and websites that I saw who did this bo ssam dinner were divided on whether or not to remove it, with something saying they left it on and enjoyed it while others said it ended up being too salty for their tastes. The skin was inedible to me, and I also didn't get the nice lacquered crust either (not that it would have made a difference considering the salt).

                          We did the ssamjang and ginger-scallion sauces he recommended and they were extremely potent on their own but when in the bo ssam it strangely seemed to work. The ssamjang recipe, I believe, has an error as many complained it was too vinegary so I upped the ssamjang and gochuang content by about double and still found the sauce too vinegary on it's own. The ginger-scallion on it's own I didn't love but like I said, it did work in conjunction with everything else. Chang says he's put that stuff on everything and a lot of people have called it addictive, but I just don't find two raw veggies like that all that interesting. Finally, we did his Ramen Broth and that also wasn't spectacular. I used all the proper ingredients, the konbu, pork neck bones etc. and just didn't find it to be that great. The company we had by seemed to like everything but my girlfriend and I didn't think anything was that spectacular and worth making again.

                            1. re: erica

                              I actually caught that article but thanks for looking out! I'm sure there are some on this thread that probably didn't catch it.

                            2. re: vchase

                              I found the ginger-scallion sauce much better after it sat a few hours at room temperature. Freshly made, it just a mouthfull of raw scallion. After sitting, it mellows into something smoother and more complex.

                        2. Okay, I'll be the ass that says it. Traditional bo ssam is not pork shoulder. It's usually boiled pork belly. This thread is about Momofuku style Bo Ssam which utilizes pork shoulder created by culinary genius, David Chang. I personally love this version and have even made it myself a few times. I just wouldn't want anyone to get confused or angry if they order it at a Korean restaurant and get presented with what is normally a very humble dish.

                          7 Replies
                          1. re: soypower

                            I'm going to echo soypower.

                            This is not traditional bo ssam, and unless a Korean restaurant is trying to copy David Chang you will get boiled (sometimes boiled and grilled) pork belly with some type of leaf (steamed cabbage leaves/whole leaf kimchi/lettuce) to wrap the chunks of belly in.

                            1. re: soypower

                              Bossam is one of my favorite Korean foods...when I had it at Chang's for the first time...boy was I disappointed.

                              The authentic version is commonly served with belly but that's not a requirement...shoulder is not uncommon and makes a perfectly good bossam. Any pork su-yuk will do (boiled pig).

                              The crux of bossam is that it's boiled pork combined with the two ingredients for kimchi - salted cabbage and kimchi filling. Everything else revolves around that.

                              IMO the thing David Chang sells is more of a Korean pulled pork lettuce wrap and really misses the what makes a good bossam. I would never take Chang's bossam over even the most mediocre Korean one.

                              1. re: joonjoon

                                Yeah, Chang's isn't trying to sell his as authentic. He explains its the idea, but using higher quality ingredients. My korean wife also loves traditional bo ssam. Personally its okay, but if I had a piece of pork belly, boiling it is probably the last way i'd treat it, or want to eat it.

                                I always see things I want to change in traditional korean cooking that just makes sense, like seasoning sam gyup sul....but I keep my mouth shut when my mother in law is cooking.

                                1. re: szw

                                  My peeve is that because of Chang people think Bossam is the dish he makes...try searching Chowhound, for example, for bossam and the results are littered with Chang's bossam but scant on the original.

                                  I haven't heard him explain the dish but I don't see how it's a quality issue - it's a pretty significant transformation of the original dish and I'm not sure what quality has to do with it.

                                  The traditional bossam is actually all about the kimchi filling and salted cabbage...the pork just rounds it out. The boiled pork works because it becomes the vessel for accepting the flavor of kimchi.

                                  1. re: szw

                                    I made the momofuku rubbed, roasted, and grilled belly yesterday as well, and it was off the hook.

                                  2. re: joonjoon

                                    Bossam is one of my favorites as well. I think it's the oyster jeot that really makes it for me. That's why it's a bit sad when Chang uses plain oysters for his version. When I make his version, I always make the traditional oyster muchim with kimchi sauce.

                                    1. re: soypower

                                      That's funny, I actually don't think I've had bossam with gul (oyster) jeot. Around these parts the oyster is plain. But that would TOTALLY MAKE THE DISH!! I need to try this ASAP.

                                2. Thinking of making this (as published in the Times) next week for company who will be staying with me while they're here on business. I have a couple of questions for those who have made it. First, one of the couple can't tolerate anything the least bit hot, so the Ssam Sauce, hot sauce, kimchi are all out. Are these condiments essential to the experience, or can the pork stand alone without them? Second, I usually prepare something that will work in sandwiches for the next couple of days so they can have something easy to eat while they're setting up their booth. I assume the meat shreds. Would it make a good sandwich? What kind of condiments might be complementary? Pickled onions? Mustard? Any other ideas?

                                  17 Replies
                                  1. re: JoanN

                                    I think the roast pork stands on it's own. It won't quite be the same taste experience without the spicy condiments, but you can make a sub for the ssam sauce by using plain miso or korean soybean paste (doenjang) instead of the ssamjang and kochujang. You could also consider purchasing some white kimchi at your local Korean market to add the essential pickly flavor to the dish.

                                    I've used the leftover pork the next day for pulled pork sandwiches slathered in bbq sauce, topped with a vinegary cabbage slaw on a nice kaiser roll. I think you'll find the pork quite versatile.

                                    1. re: soypower

                                      Thanks, soypower. Love the idea of the vinegary slaw. Not so sure about the BBQ sauce. Do you recall, was the leftover pork dry? Did it require some kind of sauce?

                                      1. re: JoanN

                                        Though it is served with many condiments, the pork was succulent and delicious. It's not excessively dry the next day, just better with a little sauce. Since you're roasting it with nothing but sugar and salt, you can really add anything to it. I could see it making a great cuban sandwich the next day.

                                        And la di da, I even found a blog where they used leftover Momofuku pork shoulder for cuban sandwiches...


                                        1. re: soypower

                                          The link you posted is to a yam noodle photo. Can't seem to find the blog you were referring to. Any chance you might locate it again?

                                          1. re: JoanN

                                            Sorry about that! I should have checked the link before pasting it...Here's the actual link: http://offthebroiler.wordpress.com/20...

                                        2. re: JoanN

                                          Chang's Ginger-Scallion Sauce should be a sufficient condiment for your heat-impaired guest. If you think even that's too much, perhaps you could simply use some sort of sweet-sour "pot sticker" sauce. If nothing else, a condiment does add to the "interactive" element of eating the dish.

                                          Personally, I think reheating a shoulder (whether oven-roasted or barbecued) is good, it's amazing when consumed without ever having been completely cooled. This is in contrast to a braised dish which is sometimes preferable the next day.

                                        3. re: soypower

                                          The recipes above aren't that much different than the standard pork shoulder I've been cooking the last 35 years. Either in the oven or on the Weber. What is intriguing to me is the serving ideas. I can see inviting my family over and putting out the roast with a wide variety of "do it yourself" options. Kimchi and rice for me, sil and wife would like the lettuce wraps, bbq sauce and some bread for brother, some tortillas so the niece and nephew could make tacos.

                                          1. re: kengk

                                            I agree that the basic technique is nothing new (then again, not many cooking techniques are). I also agree that what's very cool about the dish is the "family style" service. I have done something like that with a barbecued shoulder - basically just plopping the whole thing down on a platter in the center of the table - and it was much enjoyed. I accompanied it simply with a bowl of slaw, a bottle of vinegar-based sauce, and a basket of bread - oh, yeah, and a lot of beer.

                                            With Chang's dish though, don't forget the oysters. They're a very welcome addition.

                                            1. re: MGZ

                                              Oysters are one of my favorite things in the world, ice cold and raw or cooked most anyway. It just doesn't seem to "go" with the pork to me but would sure be willing to try it.

                                              1. re: kengk

                                                The oysters really do make this dish! I posted about this previously when I made this for Christmas dinner! Everything worked out well and it was a hit. The oysters ran out early in the dinner!

                                              2. re: MGZ

                                                I think the oysters are a brilliant idea - I read the article last saturday when I wasn't feeling too hot and said OH YEAH I want that. Makes me think of the oysters and (blistering hot) chipolata sausages first course I've read about for years and never seen offered anywhere,

                                          2. re: JoanN

                                            Roasted pork shoulder with a range of condiments is common to many cuisines -- like Mexican carnitas and a Thai dish whose name I'm forgetting. You could go in so many directions and serve it with:

                                            * guacamole and a mild pico de gallo
                                            * a garlicky, herby pesto-like sauce
                                            * a sweet Chinese hoisin sauce with scallions

                                            and so on. I'd probably choose one of the above rather than mix-and-match. The big decision seems to me whether you prefer it to be European/Latin or Asian. If the former, you probably don't want any sweetness in the sauces & condiments, but if the latter, then the balance of sweetness and salty is important. And the only alteration I'd made to the roasted pork shoulder itself is to exclude the sugar from the rub if you're going Euro/Latin -- but others might disagree.

                                            1. re: david kaplan

                                              That's excellent advice. I think I'll stick with the Asian theme and will look toward the types of dipping sauces I might make for dumplings or spring rolls. They would also be easily adaptable to a one spicy/one not presentation. Thanks.

                                              1. re: david kaplan

                                                I would love to try a Thai dish utilizing pork shoulder. Anyone have any leads on finding a recipe?

                                              2. re: JoanN

                                                Made this last night. Although I hadn't been planning on it, I made the Ssam Sauce and was very glad I did. Such a wonderful combination of spicy/sweet that was just outstanding with the pork. And since I was in a Korean market, I picked up some kimchi as well. For the person who can't tolerate spicy, I put out a high-quality bottled BBQ sauce and she seemed very happy with that.

                                                My only problem was that the skin of the pork didn't crisp up. Can't imagine why after 6 hours in the oven and a 12-minute blast at 500F. I saved it, will put it back in the oven, and see if I can't get it crisped up for the sandwiches we'll make with the leftovers.

                                                First photo is of the pork out of the oven before the sugar coating and second is on the table with the accompaniments minus the rice.

                                                  1. re: JoanN

                                                    Just lovely. I'll probably give this a go this weekend. Now, if I could only find kimchi somewhere.

                                                1. Yeah I need to make this dish again, it was so flavorful and the family style service meant that everyone could alter the dish to their tastes. so that the less adventurous eaters did not have the kimchi, or could try and experiment with different sauces.

                                                  What worked for me was cooking the whole thing in advance but then reheating it in the oven and then putting it up to 500 to crisp the skin. YUM!

                                                  I might have a get together with friends and make that and make some kind of vegetarian dish (maybe kimchi quessadillas) for my non meat eating friends.

                                                  1. Don't forget the Pork and where it comes from. If you are going to eat all that fat (as my family does) make sure the shoulder comes from a farmer you know and trust. I have been making this dish for a couple of years, too many times to count. A few suggestions: use way less salt, cook lower and longer, get a bone-in, put some brown sugar in the orginal recipe, baste throughout the cooking (will help with the skin in the end).

                                                    1. Can anyone advise me on pastes: I have two jars in my fridge--one called "hot bean paste" and anothjer Lee Kum Chee chili black bean sauce--which, if either of these, is appropriate for the Ssam sauce?

                                                      11 Replies
                                                      1. re: nomadchowwoman

                                                        I don't think so. The pastes used for the ssam sauce are very specifically Korean, with a different flavor profile than Chinese bean pastes which is what I'm assuming you have on hand. The kochujang (or gochujang) is a red pepper powder bound with sweet rice powder and the samjang has a base of miso paste. Both are somewhat sweet, which I suspect neither of yours are.

                                                        1. re: JoanN

                                                          Thank you so much, Joan. I'll be trekking off to the Asian market first chance I get in the next few days, and I'll look specifically for those (after looking them up on the internet so I have some idea of what I'm looking for as this is very much a DIY store, with aisles and aisles of tubes, jars, cans, packs). It will be an adventure! But I love going there.

                                                          Bo Ssam is in our near future. Can't wait.

                                                          1. re: nomadchowwoman

                                                            Both of the pastes I bought had the names written in English, albeit in very small type, on the label. Might make the search easier for you.

                                                            1. re: nomadchowwoman

                                                              They tend to be packed in quite attractive rectangular plastic containers.

                                                              1. re: nomadchowwoman

                                                                the bean paste (doenjang) will look similar to what's in this pic: http://media.maangchi.com/wp-content/...

                                                                The gochujang will be similar to the image posted.

                                                                Ssamjang is a mix of the doenjang, gochujang, and other ingredients like sugar, soy sauce, minced garlic, chopped green onion, and maybe rice wine or rice vinegar.

                                                                1. re: hannaone

                                                                  You folks are swell. This'll be a great help.

                                                                  1. re: hannaone

                                                                    hannaone, Sifton calls for Sherry vinegar -- is Korean rice vinegar similar in taste?

                                                                    1. re: buttertart

                                                                      I honestly couldn't say since I have never used sherry vinegar - the type of vinegar or wine used is mostly a matter of preference.
                                                                      Traditional ssamjang uses rice wine vinegar, other types of vinegar were very rare in Korea until fairly recent times.
                                                                      Contemporary chefs and home cooks now use an assortment of vinegars and wines in their recipes.
                                                                      I have played with different ingredients myself, such as using sweet chili sauce
                                                                      instead of the traditional malt syrup or sugar, garlic infused vinegar, different types of honey as sweetener, etc. They were all good, just different from the traditional.
                                                                      My advice is to play with it - try it as written, then try with variations - ssamjang is good with a lot of foods (try it as a steak sauce) so you shouldn't have any problems using up the sauces you come up with.

                                                                      1. re: hannaone

                                                                        Never a worry in our Asian-inflected household. Ssamjang is awfully good.

                                                                    2. re: hannaone

                                                                      Thanks for those pics, hannaone.

                                                                      The attached pics are what I bought. Do these look like kochujang/gochujang (chili paste) and dwenjang/doenjang (bean paste)

                                                              2. I have this finishing its dry brine in the fridge right now. Will be heading to Korean market to get my condiments for the ssam sauce and to stock up on kimchi. Will post my results... I sent DH out to do the shopping and he came back with 2 smaller pieces of pork (2lb chuck and 3 lb picnic ham with skin), so we'll see how it works. I am worried about excessive saltiness given the smaller pieces, so tried to be a little conservative with the dry brine on the chuck especially.

                                                                1 Reply
                                                                1. re: greeneggsnham

                                                                  This was an absolute, unqualified success! My husband said it may be the best meal I've ever made for him. Everyone at the table, from my 13 month old, to my 70 year old mother could not get enough.

                                                                  As I mentioned, I used both bone-in picnic ham and bone-in pork butt. The butt was the winner in terms of succulence and flavor. The ham had skin, which the chuck did not. The skin did crisp up and brown sugar did caramelize beautifully, but the meat of the ham was lacking some of the flavor of the butt (the meat was shielded by the skin and did not get as much sugar, salt or caramelization). If we had the ham alone, I don't think anyone would be complaining about the flavor, but compared to the pork butt it was not quite as good. Also, having 2 smaller pieces ended up being a boon due to increased surface area= more delicious caramelized meat candy. No one had to fight over the "end pieces." he pork butt was pretty salty, but wrapped up in lettuce with rice and sauces it was about perfect. Oh, and I did rinse off the dry brine and pat dry prior to the first slow roast.

                                                                  Also, unlike some others, the brown sugar caramelized beautifully on both pieces of meat. One thing I did do which may have helped was I basted the meat immediately before putting on the brown sugar. Thus, when I patted the brown sugar on it sort of melted onto the moist fatty meat and in the couple minutes before I put it into the hot oven it was already pretty melted (I also warmed the meat back up in a 200 degree oven prior to adding brown sugar). 12 minutes at 500 degrees (convection) and the brown sugar had all melted and caramelized and smoke was just beginning to form, but no black areas on the meat.

                                                                  Both sauces were phenomenal with the meat, although I wasn't necessarily crazy about them alone. The cool lettuce with hot rice and hot meat and both sauces made incredible little packages of flavor.

                                                                  Will definitely be making this again!

                                                                2. Mine is in the oven. Unlike some others' experiences, quite a bit of dry brine remained on top, but there was quite a bit of liquid in my bowl so obviously no dry drine remaining on the underside. I was unable to get a roast with skin on it (that would have had to be special ordered--why?, I wonder; I get so frustrated with "butchers" in this town), but I hope that won't mean I can't get that crust at the end. We'll see.

                                                                  Not sure how those sauces are going to go over w/my SuperBowl guests. The ssam sauce tasted very vinegary to me. I haven't checked my scallion-ginger sauce yet today, but I had to use less than 1/2 c. grated ginger as I used all I had (which looked like it would be plenty in its knob form). And my kimchi could use another day, but I'm pretty sure anyone but I will want any. I am also making scallion pancakes. I know the meat will be good so I'm not too worried, and there will be other things to eat--albeit a very untraditional SB spread, much tastier I hope.

                                                                  7 Replies
                                                                  1. re: nomadchowwoman

                                                                    Hi NCW,
                                                                    Looks like we are living in parallel universes. Mine us just out of the oven and resting. I am a little wary of how the sauces will go over as well. The scallion ginger sauce was really overwhelmingly scallion-y when first made. This may be due in part to especially potent scallions (just bought at the Korean market and literally the whole car smelled like green onions by the time we got home.) I am hoping for some mellowing and marrying of flavors while resting in the fridge.

                                                                    I agree the ssam sauce seems very vinegary. I actually cut the vinegar and oil both by about half, and it still seems a bit vinegary to me. Interestingly, it sort of reminds me of NC style BBQ sauce, so may be perfect with the meat, but I have a feeling my (Korean) husband with mix up his own "ssam sauce" sans vinegar (or might just go with ssamjang).

                                                                    Hope yours goes over well with your guests! Mine is just family and based on how good the little nuggets of meat that I tested were, I'm not worried about things getting eaten! Extra brown sugar and a blast of high eat are only going to make this more irresistable.

                                                                    1. re: greeneggsnham

                                                                      Yes, genh, we must have been (and I echo most of your sentiments about the whole definitely being better than the individual components).
                                                                      I wonder how many others tried this this weekend. When I went to buy my pork, the butcher told me he'd had several requests for 8-10 lb. B-I pork shoulder.
                                                                      I'm glad everybody loved it.

                                                                      1. re: nomadchowwoman

                                                                        I bought my pork shoulder from a venerable butcher in Philly and paid $12.87 for it. I almost couldn't believe it. I walked out shaking my head and laughing. It was a total feast for dirt cheap.

                                                                        1. re: Cheesesteak

                                                                          Now, that is a bargain!
                                                                          One could throw a party--to raves--for very little money w/this dish.
                                                                          Glad you enjoyed yours too, CS.

                                                                    2. re: nomadchowwoman

                                                                      The ssamjang you posted a pic of (http://www.chow.com/topics/831901 ) should have been ready to eat, as it is a pre mixed product (gochujang/doenjang/seasonings), though it would likely have a different flavor than Chang's recipe. (Just a guess - I haven't seen his recipe for ssamjang and I make my own so have not tried any of the pre mixes)

                                                                      1. re: hannaone

                                                                        Hi hannaone--
                                                                        I figured out the three different pastes--gochujang, ssamjang, and doenjang--and that ssamjang was a mix containing the other two, thanks to your help (invaluable, I can assure you as most of the labels I encountered did not have English translations though I was able to match the characters based on your photos). Chang's recipe calls for gochujang and ssamjang. Since this was my first foray into any Korean cooking (I also made kimchi and pajeon), I decided not to try to make my own ssamjang. But no matter, the bo ssam was a hit!

                                                                      2. re: nomadchowwoman

                                                                        I got to this thread a day late. I also made the bo ssam. It went over extremely well. I used a 10 lb., bone-in, skin-on pork shoulder. I think I panicked a little when I put on the brown sugar and back in the oven at 500 degrees. Some of the skin bubbled up after about 7 minutes and I immediately pulled it. I think that I should have let it go a few more minutes and let ALL of the skin bubble up, since the parts of skin that did not bubble were impossible to chew through. If I did it again I would go skin off.

                                                                        The sauces also went very well. I also thought they'd be a little bit too vinegary but the pork was an excellent canvas for it.

                                                                      3. My bo ssam was just the "miracle" promised by the NYT article/recipe. My pork did not have skin (the recipe did not specify) but the brown sugar/salt rub at the end adhered nicely to the browned layer of fat and did in fact caramelize during its 15-minute stint at 500. My husband LOVED it, and it was the first thing he mentioned this morning. Like others, I found it too salty an sweet by itself, but in the lettuce cups with the other condiments, it was perfection. I ended up loving the ginger-scallion sauce I was so worried about. I tinkered a bit w/the ssam sauce, adding more kochujang and ssamjang b/c it was so vinegary, but w/the other components, it might have been fine as written. I had also made kimchi, and I knew it wouldn't be quite ready so I put some in a tiny jar to serve prematurely. As predicted only I and my husband (who surprised me as he has a low heat tolerance) tried the kimchi. Even not quite "ripe," it was fantastic in the lettuce wrap.

                                                                        The other guests loved the meat although most ate it w/just rice or potato salad (which I was glad was there) although my neighbor tried both the sauces. Interestingly, the kids (7 and under) ate a little of the meat but loved the rice w/the drippings from the meat and finished the entire bowl of rice.

                                                                        I also tried pajeon--that was an unqualified failure. The pancakes were rubbery, very hard to brown (?), and they fell apart when I flipped them. I'll try again, but I'm not sure what went wrong: I consulted several recipes, which seemed simple enough.

                                                                        Luckily, we didn’t miss the pancakes. More importantly, we have leftovers!

                                                                        The photos are weird, I know . . .

                                                                        17 Replies
                                                                        1. re: nomadchowwoman

                                                                          The photos aren't weird at all, ncw. It all looks delish.

                                                                          I guess nobody here had any trouble with excess smoking? That's why I took out the bo ssam a little early, and I think that's why my sugar didn't fully caramelize.

                                                                          I have a nice chunk of skin left with about 1.5 lbs. of meat, so I might throw that skin under the broiler and see what happens.

                                                                          1. re: linguafood

                                                                            I thought buttertart had mentioned some trouble with smoking in one of these threads, but no, I didn't. I didn't have skin though, and I wonder if that makes a difference? (I think BT had skin on her meat, too.)

                                                                            1. re: nomadchowwoman

                                                                              I had plenty of skin on my meat. No smoke, but the skin didn't crisp. Kind of interesting how very different our experiences were not only with the meat but with the sauces as well. I thought both sauces great prepared as written; not overly anything. In fact, I just couldn't stop dipping practically everything in the fridge into that leftover ssam sauce. I think I'm going to try marinating pork chops in it.

                                                                              1. re: JoanN

                                                                                ssamjang is great with a lot of foods.
                                                                                Try using it as a baste for grilled or broiled pork of any kind.
                                                                                Also makes a good steak sauce.

                                                                                1. re: hannaone

                                                                                  Must say, I became totally addicted on the first taste. Was curious when I initially bought them what I would do with all those leftover pastes. No longer the least concerned about it. They will not be leftover in my house. Thanks for the tips.

                                                                                  1. re: JoanN

                                                                                    If you bought the gochujang and the doenjang instead of the already mixed ssamjang, there are several ways to use them up.

                                                                                    Both pastes can be used in soups and stews, the pepper paste to spice them up, and the bean paste for a bolder flavored miso type soup. You can also play with different additions to make a variety of sauces and dips.

                                                                                    The pepper paste blended with japanese plum, sesame oil, garlic, honey, and soy sauce makes the beginning of a great stir fry sauce.

                                                                                    Pork belly slices lightly brushed with doenjang, grilled, then wrapped ssam style - works with steak also.

                                                                                    1. re: hannaone

                                                                                      Oooh. That pepper paste blend for stir fry sounds spectacular. Copying that right to the database.

                                                                                      I bought, as the recipe in the Times directed, the gochujang and the mixed ssamjang. Have some pork belly in the freezer. Would it work as well with the mixed paste, do you think?

                                                                                      1. re: JoanN

                                                                                        It would give you a different flavor profile than the bean paste, but should work well.

                                                                                  2. re: hannaone

                                                                                    A sauce question for those who've made the Momofuku recipe. I'm a bit perplexed about his sauce recipe -- it calls for gochujang combined with ssamjang. Given that ssamjang is a pre-mixed sauce already contains gochujang, is he just taking it up a notch? Or should the recipe have read doenjang instead or ssamjang? I have all three, so am tempted to make a batch of each and see which tastes better, but if someone has any insight, I'd appreciate it!

                                                                                    1. re: TorontoJo

                                                                                      I took it as ssamjang plus extra gochujang and liked it that way. I think doenjang+gochujang would have been too doenjang-y. But I really love gochujang.

                                                                                      1. re: david kaplan

                                                                                        Thanks, that's how I decided to make it. I figure that Chang's "ssam sauce" just happens to include ssam sauce. :)

                                                                                  3. re: JoanN

                                                                                    We had the ssamjang with fries. Yeehaw. I also thought they were just right as written.

                                                                                    1. re: buttertart

                                                                                      You one-upped me. I was mostly just dipping raw vegetables and bread product into it. Fries, eh? I like your style.

                                                                                      1. re: JoanN

                                                                                        Always love vinegar on them anyway, this is like vinegar's grown-up brother with them.

                                                                                        Ooh...chicken wings?

                                                                                        1. re: buttertart

                                                                                          Totally agreed on the vinegar on fries. Something I picked up after four years in New Hampshire. Catsup? Phooey!

                                                                                    2. re: JoanN

                                                                                      I realized once I made the whole wrap that the sauce probably would have been fine as written--but I do like it now, and can see it as a sauce for all sorts of things now. Like you, Joan, I see those pastes as being very useful. Another plus: I discovered a delightful Little Korean market in an outlying 'burb--as far away from me in the other direction as our big Asian market, but much easier to navigate, with extremely helpful proprietors. Winning experience, all the way around.

                                                                              2. It's nice to see all these raves. It really is a super dish. I'll try the sugar on a just-basted roast - the fat and sugar really should caramelize.

                                                                                3 Replies
                                                                                1. re: buttertart

                                                                                  Just a quick suggestion for the caramelization process. I've made this twice now, and the first time the sugar didn't caramelize (but the dish was still delicious). The second time, however, I sprinkled a little water over the sugar, which seemed to make all the difference. the caramelization was luscious, and took the whole experience to a whole new level. In my opinion, the caramelization is key.

                                                                                  1. re: martie5000

                                                                                    martie, did you sprinkle the water before you put the roast in the oven or closer to the end? tia

                                                                                  2. Late to the game here, but wanted to share my love for Momofuku's take on bo ssam. Just had a big group of friends over for the most fabulous meal.

                                                                                    I made a double recipe with two 8+ lb boneless pork shoulders (it's such a simple recipe and there's no such thing as too much pork in my home). I used the entire amount of the dry brine, which meant my shoulders were literally encrusted with salt. I rinsed the salt off and patted dry before putting the pork in the oven. Went for 4 hours at 300, then went down to 250, as my dinner was going to put the timing at closer to 8 hours, rather than the prescribed 6. Basted occasionally, but didn't feel like it really needed it. I did baste right before adding the sugar crust, when then went into the 500 degree convection oven. It was great fun watching the sugar caramelize and bubble. There was definitely some of the "ballooning" action going on, which was kind of cool to watch. It looked like the pork was breathing. Sort of disturbing, really. :) No problems with smoking or scorching.

                                                                                    The ssam sauce was delicious -- the vinegar really cut nicely through the richness of the pork. I did double the amount of ssamjang and gochujang called for in the recipe. The scallion sauce was also nice, though I did two versions -- one as written, and one with garlic instead of ginger. Went the whole nine yards with kimchi and oysters, as well. A friend also made delicious pickled cucumbers and bean sprout banchans, which were a welcome addition.

                                                                                    Eight of us went through almost an entire 9-lb boneless pork shoulder. Then we had an "intermezzo" of the remaining rice tossed with the pan drippings (so very, very good). Then we had belgian waffles with an array of decadent toppings for dessert. I don't think I can eat anything for the next 3 days.

                                                                                    Some photos below.

                                                                                    11 Replies
                                                                                    1. re: TorontoJo

                                                                                      So I'm going to make this over the weekend for my birthday, do you think I can substitute palm sugar for brown sugar? I have a bunch lying around from a different cooking project....

                                                                                      1. re: skc

                                                                                        Sorry, skc, I've never used palm sugar, so I don't know its properties. If it can melt and caramelize, then I don't see why not. Maybe someone else can chime in.

                                                                                        1. re: skc

                                                                                          Is your palm sugar loose, skc? If so, I think it would work fine. The only kind I ever get is in rock-hard disks: those melt best in liquid over heat; they're very hard to break up and take a long time to "melt" in cool or room temp liquids.

                                                                                          1. re: nomadchowwoman

                                                                                            My palm sugar is in rock-hard disks also. If I remember and have the time, I wrap the disk in a damp paper towel for a couple of days and that softens most of it enough so it can be grated. If I don't remember, I put the disk in the microwave for about 15 seconds. Not quite as effective, but I'm still able to grate the outer parts of the disk.

                                                                                            1. re: JoanN

                                                                                              Thanks, Joan--I love its flavor, but it's always a pain. I'll use your tip next time.

                                                                                        2. re: TorontoJo

                                                                                          Holy cow (or pig), T.O.Jo! You did that up brown.

                                                                                          1. re: buttertart

                                                                                            Yep, and it was delicious! :) It was great fun watching the pork "breathe" in the oven. It wasn't burning, so I waited until all of the sugar melted and caramelized. I would probably use half the salt in the final coating next time, as I found that I would have preferred it to be less salty and more sugary to balance out the savoriness of the meat.

                                                                                            On another topic, can I bring you some buttertarts from my favourite Toronto bakery next week? If so, how many would you like? And raisins or no raisins?

                                                                                            1. re: TorontoJo

                                                                                              So nice of you. But of course! Raisins please. :)

                                                                                            1. re: nomadchowwoman

                                                                                              Had this dish for dinner last night ...... wonderful dish to share with a group! Just a note about the ginger scallion relish/sauce: I recommend making it with very hot oil poured over all the other ingredients. Hot oil to the point of almost smoking - the hot oil will take away the raw bite of the ginger and scallion but not so much that it won't serve as a piquant condiment. It brings out more ginger and scallion flavor. Try it - think you'll like the results.

                                                                                              1. re: gordon wing

                                                                                                I will. I want to make this again--this time with the benefit of so many other Hounds' experiences.

                                                                                          2. Do you make this with the skin off or on?

                                                                                            I made it the other day and it was delicious. However, I took the skin off. I put the salt/sugar brine on it and then rinsed it off prior to cooking. When I slow cooked it i draped the skin that I had cut off over it.

                                                                                            When it was time for the caramel crust I put the brown sugar/salt rub directly on the meat in a 500 degree oven for about 15 minutes and it seems to work well. Put it this way, people were not complaining.

                                                                                            I cooked the skin separately in a 500 degree oven for a while and watched it closely. It was very good crackling'.

                                                                                            Has anyone eaten this at Momofuku? Just interested in knowing whether it is served with the skin on there.

                                                                                            3 Replies
                                                                                            1. re: msonyc

                                                                                              I have not been there, but I think Momofuku serves with skin. Here's someone's photo set:

                                                                                              1. re: drongo

                                                                                                That's funny, to me, it looks like the pork has no skin in the photos.
                                                                                                This is a question I have been trying to get the answer to for a couple of years, and I haven't been able to get a definitive one. I guess I will just have to go to Momofuku and have it myself.
                                                                                                I like skin, so I have been making it with the skin, but think the crust might be better without the skin. I like msonycs idea of cooking the skin separately, and may try that next time.

                                                                                                1. re: missmasala

                                                                                                  That is what I did. Actually, my pork shoulder did not have skin, but it had a nice fat cap, which I scored well. However, the belly I also roasted did have skin. I cooked the meat until tender and then remove the skin (which I had scored). I basted it with brown sugar when I did the shoulder and blasted it under high heat until crispy.

                                                                                                  To me, the advantage to removing the skin is that the fat underneath has more opportunity to render and become nice and caramelized and crispy. Otherwise, you just have a lot of soft fat protected by brittle skin.

                                                                                            2. Just wanted to thank everyone for this thread. I followed your tips and advice (reducing the salt, rinsing the meat before roasting, roasting time, scoring the fat, basting before the sugar rub, upping the pastes in the sauce, etc.) and it turned out great. Much appreciated!

                                                                                              2 Replies
                                                                                              1. re: ChristinaMason

                                                                                                I'm thinking about making this for a Super Bowl party. Really, just looking for an excuse to make this again.
                                                                                                After I made this dish, I was so pleased. I couldn't believe I could do it!

                                                                                                1. re: monavano

                                                                                                  It's so good and so easy! I think it would be perfect for a Super Bowl party.

                                                                                              2. Where do you buy your pork shoulder? Any advice about quality or type of pork? Im concerned about it drying out w/ lack of good marbling because i cant find berkshire pork in montreal! This happened once when i tried to make pulled pork...

                                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                                1. re: gmairson

                                                                                                  I don't know if this would help you, but I roasted mine at 250F instead of 300. It was very moist and succulent. Regular ol' supermarket pork shoulder here.

                                                                                                  1. re: gmairson

                                                                                                    My shoulder was from Costco, so nothing special either. Perhaps the problem was with the recipe rather than the meat?

                                                                                                  2. OK, I didn't read the whole thread but it doesn't look like any/very few have actually eaten the Bo Ssam at Ssam Bar. I have many times and I have made the recipe at home. There is no skin on it that I have seen when I've had it at MSB. Yes the exterior is dark and crisp, but that is from the cooking technique, not the skin. The thing I have never been able to duplicate is the texture. I think Chang gets pork that you normally can't get. Its unbelievably tender. You take your tongs. grab a piece and a huge chunk just falls off. I have never gotten it to that point with the same juiciness.

                                                                                                    Don't use a crock pot. You will never get the exterior bark that makes this such a great dish. Otherwise all you're making is sorry assed pulled pork.

                                                                                                    Need to have the sauces, kimchi and oysters to make the meal complete. You can cook it in advance and finish it right before serving. Let it come to room temperature if you prepared in advance before the final 500 degree blast. Don't any of you own the Momofuku cookbook?

                                                                                                    The martha stewart version leaves out the step where you remove the roast after the initial cooking and let it cool for an hour before applying the final salt/sugar rub and blast at 500.

                                                                                                    3 Replies
                                                                                                    1. re: Bkeats

                                                                                                      I don't have the book. I used the recipe that was published in the NYTimes magazine. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/15/mag... Is the recipe in the book significantly different?

                                                                                                      1. re: JoanN

                                                                                                        NYT recipe is right. MS recipe misses one step. But you don't get the whole discussion by Chang about the dish and the "color commentary" about how to proceed from the NYT recipe whic is in the book. I guess if you read the rest of the Sifton article that precedes the recipe, you get some of it. I really recommend getting the book. That way you can make the best dish of all. Those effen awesome pork buns.

                                                                                                      2. re: Bkeats

                                                                                                        I remember being impressed by how easily the meat pulls away with just tongs...and the sweet/salty crust on the outside. That was probably the best part of it.

                                                                                                        But god damn it David Chang, Bossam meat is supposed to have some CHEW to it!

                                                                                                      3. When I made Bo Saam, I bought a pork should that was partially covered in skin. I did the long cook skin side up and the super hot caramelization at the end skin side down.
                                                                                                        Damn... it's good.
                                                                                                        I might just be having a Super Bowl party just so I can make this again!