Bo Ssam (Slow Cooked Pork)

I’ve been keeping this one to myself.  Largely because there isn’t a huge need for Thermomix activity.  But it is so good, as I was reminded by cooking it today, that I need to rave about it for a bit.

I discovered the recipe when following the Momofuku opening in Sydney.  No, I have not been to the restaurant, but as with many other foodie obsessions (The Fat Duck, elBulli, even the geographically attainable – Movida, Rockpool, Quay) though denied the lived experience of eating at my place of worship, I stalk the food through online recipes, write ups, TV shows and cookbooks.

This appealed for many reasons.  Pork is a reason alone.  The simplicity of preparation, though requiring time, also hugely appealing.  Also, the temptation of attempting new things – kimchi and pickled watermelon rind.  And as a dinner party meal it can be expanded at the last minute to feed extras, while still being very impressive.

Momofuku suggests using a shoulder of pork – skin off.  If it comes with skin, cut away, leaving all the fat and use skin to make delicious crackling as a side or as a secret indulgence when you are finally alone again.  I love the pork I get at our market butcher – the Stockman’s Choice at Kelvin Grove Markets.  You get to bask in wonderful Scottish accents while buying the most flavoursome, succulent pork I have ever had.  The cut they have is a porterhouse.  Don’t assume I actually know about cuts of meat, but this works very well.

Choose a close fitting oven dish for your piece of pork.  A lot of liquid eventuates, so high sides is a good idea.  A dish that can go from oven to table will also save time and washing up.  A little olive oil (or whatever oil you are using for cooking) drizzled on the bottom of the dish.  Sit your pork fat side up in its new house and score the fat with a sharp knife in a criss cross fashion.  Sprinkle a thin layering of salt over the pork, then get a big bag of brown sugar and pack it on in a layer at least 2cm thick, don’t let any pork peek through.  Put a lid or plastic wrap over the top and put in the fridge for 24 hours or until you remember it again.  This can be done the morning of your bo ssam dinner, but I find it does work just a little better if the sugar and pork have spent more quality time together overnight.

4 hours before you Bo ssamwant to serve up place your pork dish in a slow oven, uncovered.  I usually have my oven at 140 degrees for the first 2 and a half hours then put it up to 150 for the last hour and a half.  Depends on your oven.  I have a slow cook setting on my oven that only cooks things if left in all day.  I am not usually that well prepared first thing in the morning, but at least I know I don’t have to buy a slow cooker.  You want the sugar nicely caramelising to a dark brown, but not burning and the pork able to melt apart with some soft poking with a fork.  To serve use tongs, fork, spoons and tear it apart so there are nice shreds of pork mixing with caramelly sauce.  Serve with lettuce leaves to wrap (the actual meaning of bo ssam is apparently wrapped up), rice (where your Thermomix comes in handy), spring onions and ginger in soy sauce, pickled vegetables – watermelon rind recipe coming up, kimchi, grated raw carrot.  You could make all kinds of sides to go with this and turn it from a Korean dish to any kind of cuisine you like, just emphasising different flavours.  A few spices in with the pork while it cooks will lift it from delicious to sublime (I like a bit of star anise and lime zest).

Try not to have too many people for dinner for this one.  It is divine on a sandwich the next day.

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