Monday, January 24, 2011

Momofuku Bo Ssäm - At Home!

I’m walking through the grocery store to pick up bananas, or something menial like that, and in the meat department there’s a bin of pork butts. “$9/lb… now $1/lb.” Sheeeeiiit. I picked up three 10-pound suckers; two for me, and one for my coworker who I was BBMing with at that second.

I get home and wonder what am I going to do. Well, what do I usually do when I want to do something special? I contact Porthos.

Text message from me to Porthos: Dude, I got a 10 # butt. What should I do with it?
Porthos: omg OMG OmG
Athos: I already know it’s gonna be good.
Porthos: Dude, this is probably my favorite pork dish even more than dong po rou.

Porthos takes cell phone cam pix of Momofuku’s cookbook, sends it to me, I review, and I’m ready to rock & roll.

Some background: David Chang, owner & chef of the Momofuku restaurants, is a pork master and is no holds barred when it comes to giving flavor. I had a sampling and was blown away as I described here. This is a dish that you need to place your order at least a day ahead and costs $200. (Of course you get a bunch of meat-eating buds and split the cost as shown here and here). I tell you this so you have an idea of how special of a treat this is for me…. us.

I gotta be honest, when I was making it, it did not look too attractive. When I took my first taste – FRACK I was in heaven! Oh yeah, this chit is good. I gave some to friends and coworkers, and it was confirmed that it was a hit. A few weeks later I decided to venture deeper and make accompanying sauces & Boston bib lettuce (to make it into wraps hence the ssäm (Korean for "wrap")), brought everything to a party, and it was a huge hit. (To this day, they still ask me to remake it.) And even then, I’m sure heading up to NYC and having the real dealio would make me tear up with joy. Anyway, try it yourself! Here’s how (straight from the book!):

Ingredients for piggy (sauces below)
1 whole 8 – 10# bone in Boston pork butt
1 C granulated sugar
1 C plus 1 T kosher salt
7 T light brown sugar

1.) Put the pork shoulder in a roasting pan, ideally one that holds it snugly. Mix together the granulated sugar and 1 C of the salt in a bowl, then rub the mixture into the meat; discard any excess salt & sugar mixture. Cover the pan with plastic wrap, and put it into the fridge for at least 6 hours, or overnight.
2.) Heat the oven to 300°F. Remove the pork from the refrigerator and discard any juices that have accumulated. Put the pork in the oven and cook for 6 hours, basting with the rendered fat and pan juices every hour. The pork shoulder 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 it rest and mellow out at room temperature.
3.) When ready to serve – turn the oven to 500°F.
4.) Stir together the remaining 1 T salt and the brown sugar and rub mixture all over the pork. Put it in the oven for 10 – 15 minutes until the sugar has melted into a crisp, sweet crust.

Ingredients for sauces
Sauce 1
1 C kimchi with oysters
1 T soy bean paste

Sauce 2
2 green onions sliced
1 red chili pepper sliced
I clove garlic sliced
1 jalapeño sliced
1 t sugar
1 t salt
1 C canola oil

Sauce 1
Pulse the kimchi until it’s like a chunky salsa. Stir in the soy bean paste.

Sauce 2
Mix everything together.

Get a leaf of lettuce, put some pork in it, add sauces, and if possible, top it with a freshly shucked oyster. Wrap it up, put it in your mouth, and feel the bliss. This, I have yet to do. The first time I made this, I was mucking around with things I had at home and used tortillas, spinach, ponzu sauce, horseradish, and just different combinations. Some made sense; others didn’t. Whatever; it was all about piggy.

And my coworker? She was keeping it real and went to her roots and made Puerto Rican pernil with it. She showed me recipes. Next time!

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