Mix it up your next big holiday with these incredibly easy and entertaining Korean Pork Belly Bo Ssam Lettuce Wraps from Judy Joo.
THE RAMBLE: WINNER FOR TEAM KOREA!
LET’S TALK ABOUT the funnest meal you could eat. Bo Ssam is when you take some delicious protein and wrap it up in Korean perilla leaves and red leaf lettuce, garnish it with gochujang, cucumber, chilies, or whatever you heart desires, and eat it all in one big bite (or 3 or 4 if you’re like me). Every bite is different and it is so fun to put together. Of course the meal should be accompanied with banchan, like this banchan quartet in my post Spain vs Korea Recipes Face-Off: Small Plates: Spain Tapas vs Korea Banchan! (Part II). This recipe is so easy! Just boil the meat for 2 hours, make a 4-ingredient paste to top it, then roast it for 30 minutes. THAT’S IT! Super easy holiday meal, especially when you make the banchan a head of time. This is also great with Judy Joo’s King Mandu, and all these recipes are found in her awesome book Korean Food Made SImple. I thought this book was going to be pretty predictable, like every other Korean recipe book or blog, with the same old recipes (which are great and necessary for your Asian repertoire, don’t get me wrong!). But, she has a ton of surprises! Along with the classic Korean staples, there’s lots of great fusion, like Korean Pulled Pork Disco Fries, Deonjang Caramel Ice Cream, etc., and you know her recipes will be precise and consistently good due to her incredible class and skill as a professional chef. She has her own show on Cooking Channel TV and is one of the few shows out there worth watching. This book is worth the dang $20. Just get it!!
WHO YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT making great Korean food: Hyosun of Korean Bapsang, Sue from My Korean Kitchen, Maangchi @Maangchi of Maangchi, Julie of KimchiChick, Judy Joo @JudyJooChef of Cooking Channel’s and cookbook Korean Food Make Simple and Jinjuu in London and Hong Kong, food truck pioneer Roy Choi @RidingShotgunLA of Kogi and cookbook L.A. Son: My Life, My City, My Food and LA restaurants Chego, Alibi Room, Sunny Spot and A-Frame, Holly @beyondkimchi of Beyond Kimchee, David Chang @DavidChang of PBS’s Mind of a Chef, his NYC restaurant and books Momofuku, and recipe/culture online magazine Lucky Peach @luckypeach, Robin Ha @RobinHaART of her recipe blog/Tumblr Banchan Comic and recipe-comic book Cook Korean! A Comic Book with Recipes, HJ @haejn of the blog Yobodish Korean Recipes, James Strange and his YouTube recipe videos, Jinjoo of her blog, Kimchimari.
Pork Belly Bo Ssam Lettuce Wraps
Adapted from Korean Food Made Simple, serves 4-6, easy-medium fuss, about 2.5 hours to make.
1 (3-3.5 lb) boneless, skin-on pork belly
1 onion, cut into eighths
8 cloves garlic, crushed
7 scallions, cut into 1″ pieces
6 thick slices un peeled ginger
4 TBS doenjang or ssamjang (Korean soybean or soybean + chili pastes), divided
2 TBS honey
1.5 TBS peeled fresh grated ginger
1 tsp gochujang (Korean chili paste)
Garnishes to Serve:
Korean red leaf lettuce leaves
perilla leaves, aka sesame leaves
steamed white rice
Korean green twist peppers, fresh sliced garlic, cucumber, banchan, extra gochujang and doenjang, etc.
- In a pot large enough for the pork belly, add 1 cup water and 2 TBS of the doenjang and whisk together until smooth. Add the pork belly, skin-side up, then add onion, garlic, scallions, and sliced ginger. Add enough water to just cover the pork belly, about 1/2″, then bring to a boil. Once boiling, lower to a slow simmer and cover with a propped lid for 2 hours, until pork belly is cooked and very soft. The pork might curl up slightly. Transfer the pork belly to a foil-lined baking sheet and let cool to handle. Discard the poaching liquid. Once the pork belly has cooled, remove the skin with a sharp knife, but leave the fat layer. Discard the skin.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the remaining 2 TBS doenjang, honey, grated ginger, and gochujang into a smooth paste. Then, evenly coat the top (fat side) of the pork belly with the paste (If there is leftover paste, serve at the end! It is delicious as a garnish!). Place in the oven and roast about 25-30 minutes, until the top is caramelized and dark golden brown. Remove from oven and let rest about 15 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board and cut into thin slices. Serve with garnishes. Traditionally eaten in a wrap with lettuce, perilla leaf, rice, pork belly, paste or your choice, garlic, spicy banchan, etc. and eaten in 1 or 2 bites.