There’s a growing trend in the US of serving traditional Korean dishes in non-traditional ways. No doubt some of you are aware of David Chang and his version of bo ssam; served with roasted pork shoulder rather than the traditional boiled/steamed pork belly. However, the trend most relevant to this post is that of the Kogi Truck (pronounced ko-gi, not koh-jee as it’s so often mispronounced).
The Kogi Truck serves a variety of Korean-flavoured barbecued meats in tacos, burritos, burgers and other handheld, bread-based delivery systems. Whilst this concept is relatively new to the modern food scene, the substitution of meats like ham and roast beef with bulgogi & kalbi has been around for decades, as many Korean families living in Western countries can, I’m sure, attest to. It’s certainly something that’s been a part of my childhood for as long as I can remember.
So, with that in mind, I present to you the recipe for my “Bo Ssam” Sliders. Though, it’s “Bo Ssam” (with quotes) for a reason.
Pictured above is a fairly typical example of a traditional bo ssam platter. If you’re wondering, this bo ssam platter is from O Se Yo Korean Restaurant, as reviewed in a previous post.
Bo ssam, which translates to “pork belly wrap”, at its essence consists of wrapping boiled/steamed pork belly along with a specific style of kimchi, a miso-based condiment known as ssamjang (wrap paste), and other accompaniments in leafy vegetation, such as wilted wombok/napa cabbage, genyip (Perilla leaf, often referred to as shiso) or even garden variety lettuce.
However, at home bo ssam can be a rather simple affair, often consisting of little more than pork belly on a spoonful of rice, dabbed with a little miso paste & wrapped in a lettuce leaf. Slices of cucumber served on the side, are dabbed with the same miso paste and are eaten on their own as a textural contrast and to cleanse the palate.
It is from this home-style version that the recipe for the “Bo Ssam” Slider derives its components & flavours from. How does it taste? Imagine this if you will…
A generous slice of tender, sweet pork belly; skin removed but with its luscious strata of gelatinous fat still attached. The freshness of crispy lettuce & slices of cucumber serve as a foil to the richness of the pork as well as a textural contrast. A slather of creamy miso mayonnaise is an umami sucker punch that seasons & complements the other components. Crunchy crackling is included just for shits & giggles, and because it’d be a crime to let the skin go to waste. The soft mini bread rolls are merely a handheld delivery device and can just as easily be substituted with other relatively neutral-flavoured bread-like items, such as tortillas, pita, baguettes, slices of sandwich bread and so forth.
Still not a clear enough idea of what it tastes like? Well, give the following recipe a go and find out first hand. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed :)
Recipe – “Bo Ssam” Sliders
The recipe for “Bo Ssam” Sliders breaks down into four distinct parts – cooking the pork belly (the ‘bo‘ in ‘bo ssam‘), roasting the crackling (an optional step to those that don’t love food or themselves :P), preparing the miso mayonnaise and then finally the assembly of the slider.
500g pork belly
3 garlic cloves, whole
- Trim the skin off the pork belly if attached.
- Reserve skin for crackling.
- Place the pork belly into a saucepan and fill with enough tap water to cover the meat.
- Peel & quarter the onion and place into the pot of water along with the cloves of garlic & peppercorns.
- Bring the pot to the boil and then lower heat to simmer.
- Allow the pork belly to simmer for 1.5 hours.
- Remove pork belly from the saucepan and allow to rest for at least 15 minutes.
- Once rested, cut the pork into slices with a sharp knife.
- If really thin slices are desired, chill the meat in the fridge until firm. However, this will change the texture of the meat & fat.
The recipe for crackling is a variation of the previously posted “Dead Sea” Crackling.
- Pre-heat the oven to 200C.
- Wipe down surface of the skin, removing any excess moisture.
- Score the skin with the tip of a really sharp knife.
- Place the skin onto a wire rack and place the rack onto a baking tray.
- The wire rack allows the fat to render away from the crackling without being immersed in it.
- Rub a generous amount of salt into the skin to work the salt into the score marks.
- Sprinkle salt onto the skin so that the entire surface is covered in a thin layer of salt.
- Place the baking tray with the crackling into the oven and roast for at least 20 minutes.
- Test the centre of the crackling to ensure that it’s rock hard. If not, place back into the oven and allow to roast for another 5-10 minutes before checking again.
- When tasting the crackling, if it’s a little tough, put it back into the oven for a little while as it needs to be cooked further.
- Once the crackling has finished roasting, allow to cool just enough so that it can be safely handled and brush off/remove as much salt as possible.
- Using a knife, chop the crackling into 5mm strips. If it shatters into smaller shards, that’s ok.
1 egg yolk
1 tsp Dijon mustard
175ml neutral flavoured oil
2 tsp of rice wine vinegar (white vinegar can be used as a substitute)
2 tbsp miso paste
- In a mixing bowl, whisk the egg yolk & mustard until well incorporated.
- Whilst continuously whisking, incorporate the oil in small drops at first, then later in a steady stream.
- Combine the vinegar with the miso to thin it out a little and then fold into the mayonnaise.
- Making the mayonnaise from scratch gives you some latitude with regards to the strength of the miso flavour, as the saltiness of miso can very between brands & varieties.
- If using store bought mayonnaise, combine in an approx. 3 parts mayonnaise to 1 part miso. Specific amounts will depend on the amount of salt in both products.
- With store bought mayonnaise, make sure to use a good quality mayonnaise for the best results. Low fat mayo tends to have a higher degree of acidity & sweetness, which will affect the flavour of the end product.
- Whilst any miso could be used for this recipe, I found that darker miso tend to work better than lighter ones as the lighter ones, with the exception of “sweet” miso e.g. Saikyo miso, tend to be more salty than flavourful.
Assembly of the Bo Ssam Slider
12 slices of pork belly
12 mini rolls
1 cucumber, halved & sliced on the bias
3 large iceberg lettuce leaves, shredded
- Split the rolls in half along its equator.
- Spread a layer of miso mayonnaise on both halves of the roll.
- Add the cucumber, lettuce, pork belly & a small amount of the crackling.
- Sandwich with the other half of the roll and serve.
- The mini rolls used for this recipe are the par-baked ones available from most major supermarkets. Whilst any roll or other bread-like product could be substituted, it’d be preferable to select a relatively soft one for the ease of consumption.