Momofuku Bo Ssam Perfected

My brother made this once for one of his parties and I couldn’t stop eating it!  It was an amazing combination of spicy, sour, salty, cool, ginger-scallion, porky goodness.  I made it for our family’s Christmas gathering and made a number of modifications after reading some online feedback.  Not sure of the oysters since I’m not a fan, but I’ve included them in the recipe as written.

So what did I change?

Problem: The Bo Ssam is too salty.
What I did: Halved the brine amounts and rinsed before putting it in the oven.  I was able to use the prescribed brine for two 8-9 lb pork butts.

Problem: Ginger Scallion sauce too intense
What I did: Doubled the amount of oil to 1/2 cup (see recipe below), heated the oil (I test it by putting in a small piece of ginger and waiting until it browns) and then poured it over the ginger and scallions so that they are cooked slightly.  I slice my ginger extremely finely and my scallions sliced finely cross-wise.

Problem: Crust on the pork butt doesn’t caramelize and instead just burns and smokes.
What I did: Baste the pork butt prior to putting on the sugar, put on the sugar and then lightly baste again to wet the sugar.  This created an awesome crispy fatty crust.

Problem: Lettuce is too delicate for the hot rice and pork.
What I did: Consider using romaine cut into useable size.

Lastly, I also made pickled carrot and daikon shreds which added additional crunch and tang, but is completely optional.

Recipe: Momofuku Bo Ssam Perfected

Summary: Adapted From David Chang’s Momofuku cookbook


  • 1 whole 8 to 10 pound bone-in Boston pork butt
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup plus 1 T kosher salt
  • 7 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 1 dozen oysters, shucked
  • 1 cup Napa Cabbage Kimchi, plus 1 cup pureed
  • 1 cup Ginger Scallion Sauce (see below)
  • Ssam Sauce (see below)
  • 2 cups Short-Grain Rice
  • 3-4 heads Bibb lettuce, leaves separated, well washed, and spun dry (I recommend Romaine or iceberg instead)


  1. Put the pork shoulder in a roasting pan, ideally one that holds it snugly. Mix together the granulated sugar and ½ cup of the salt in a bowl, then rub the mixture into the meat; discard any excess salt and sugar mixture. Cover the pan with plastic wrap and put it into the refrigerator for at least 6 hours, or overnight.
  2. Heat the oven to 300F. Remove the pork from the refrigerator, lightly rinse the brine off the pork butt and discard any juices that have accumulated and rinse the pan out. Put the pork in the oven and cook for 6 hours, basting with the rendered fat and pan juices every hour. The pork 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 for up to an hour.
  3. When ready to serve – sauces are made, lettuce is washed – turn the oven to 500F.
  4. Baste the pork butt again and stir together the remaining 1 tablespoon salt and the brown sugar and rub the mixture all over the pork. Lightly baste the sugar covering.
  5. Put it in the oven for 10 to 15 minutes, until the sugar has melted into a crisp, sweet crust.  It shouldn’t smoke and burn but sizzle and crisp to a caramelized crust.
  6. Serve the bo ssam whole and hot, surrounded with the accompaniments.

Number of servings (yield): 6


Recipe: Ssam Sauce

Summary: Makes 1 cup


  • 2 tablespoon ssamjang (fermented bean and chile paste) sold in Korean markets
  • 1 tablespoon kochujang (chile paste)
  • ½ cup sherry vinegar
  • ½ cup grapeseed or other neutral oil


  1. Combine all the ingredients and stir until evenly mixed. Ssam sauce will keep in the fridge for weeks.

Recipe: Ginger Scallion Sauce

Summary: Makes about 3 cups


  • 2 ½ cups thinly sliced scallions (greens and whites; from 1 to 2 large bunches)
  • ½ cup finely minced peeled fresh ginger
  • ½ cup grapeseed oil or other neutral oil
  • 1 ½ teaspoons usukuchi (light soy sauce)
  • 3/4 teaspoon sherry vinegar
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, or more to taste


  1. Mix together the scallions and ginger.
  2. Heat the oil, testing that it is sufficiently hot by putting in a small piece of ginger and waiting until it browns.  Immediately pour over the scallions and ginger mixture.  It should bubble up and sizzle.
  3. Add remaining soy, vinegar, and salt. Taste and check for salt, adding more if needed.
  4. Though it’s best after 15 to 20 minutes of sitting, ginger scallion sauce is good from the minute it is stirred together up to a day or two in the fridge. Use as directed, or apply as needed.

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