Monday, October 8, 2018

Bossam: Korean Boiled Pork Belly Wraps | 韓式水煮五花腩生菜包

Most of us would have tried Bossam (보쌈) at a restaurant before, a popular traditional Korean dish consisting of sliced pork belly that is cooked in a seasoned broth and eaten wrapped in leaves along with a variety of condiments. "Ssam" means wrap, and "Bo-ssam" means "wrapped" or "packaged." One theory has it that the word "bossam" evolved from the combination of two letters, 복 bok and 쌈 ssam, where bok means good fortune and together it would mean to wrap good luck in leaves. Now who doesn't like the sound of that?

The centerpiece of Bossam is of course pork belly, a succulent cut of pork that is layered with tender meat, fat, and rind that gives a toothsome chew. The pork is usually simmered for an hour or more in a seasoned broth. Here I am using a Fissler Vitavit® Comfort pressure cooker (2.5L) that not only significantly cuts down on cooking time, but also produces meat that is tantalizingly juicy and infused with remarkable flavor. Although this recipe is specially designed for the pressure cooker, it can also be made without one only with adjustments in cooking duration.

The ingredients used in the seasoned broth are pantry staples in any Korean kitchen: doenjang (Korean fermented soybean paste), onions, garlic, ginger, etc. One rather unusual addition is instant coffee - a secret ingredient used among many Korean households in making bossam that is hardly a secret anymore. The coffee helps eliminate the sometimes undesirable porky odor; at the same time, it magically enhances the flavor of the pork without actually tasting a trace of coffee. My recipe here involves a good amount of ingredients - all of which combines to give an intense flavor enough for the pork belly to stand on its own even without any condiments. The aroma of all the spices and ingredients is absolutely sensational - and smells distinctly Korean - so don't forget to take a moment to take a whiff before putting on the lid!

Now, straight out of the cooking broth the pork belly will look somewhat drab - flavorful to say the least, but looking rather plain and nothing out of the ordinary. Boiled meat is what it is; that is what you'll usually be served in a restaurant. But if you are like me, you're gonna want to take the bossam to the next level by taking just one simple extra step. Give the pork belly a quick sear on the pan, and you will get this magnificent golden brown that not only kicks the flavor up a notch but also makes the pork belly that much sexier.

Bossam is typically accompanied with a whole host of condiments and sides. For the wrap itself, it is common to use different lettuces, aromatic perilla leaves (a.k.a. wild sesame leaves), as well as pickled or brined cabbage. Napa cabbage is soaked in salt water for anywhere between thirty minutes up to several hours to soften the leaves while preserving a sweet, tender crunch. Some typical sides and toppings include spicy oyster radish kimchi, fresh kimchi, saewoojeot-jang (salted shrimp sauce), ssamjang (Korean spicy dip for wraps and meats), sliced chilies, and raw or toasted garlic slivers. Incorporate as much as you wish, or keep it simple!

For my recipe for homemade kimchi, please click:
Traditional Korean Napa Cabbage Kimchi (Bae-Chu Kimchi)
For my recipe for kimchi fried rice, please click:
Kimchi Fried Rice (Kimchi Bokkeumbap)

That said, the ssamjang is indispensable when making any ssam. It is what gives that punch and "pow" to any grilled meats or lettuce wraps. It can be easily be store-bought, yet just as easily homemade with your own seasonings ('coz who needs another thing to take up precious space in my refrigerator?). The recipe is included below! So, are you ready to get cooking? In no time I promise you will find yourself yet another favorite go-to for potluck parties!

What you'll need...
700 g (1.5 lb) fresh pork belly, rinsed and drained
1 medium onion, quartered
1 inch ginger, sliced thinly
7 plump garlic cloves
2 white parts of leeks
2 bay leaves
1 1/2 tablespoons doenjang
2 tablespoon rice wine or sake
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
1 teaspoon instant coffee
4 cups (1 L) water

Cabbage wraps:
1 small napa cabbage
1/4 cup coarse salt
3 cups warm water

1 1/2 tablespoons doenjang
1 tablespoon gochujang
3 garlic cloves, minced
Toasted sesame oil
Spring onion, chopped
Sesame seeds, toasted

1. Prepare the cabbage: dissolve coarse salt in warm water, quarter the cabbage lengthwise and submerge in the salt water. Let soak, flipping every now and then, ensuring that the leaves are completely submerged, 30 minutes up to 2 hours. Rinse and drain well.

2. Combine all broth ingredients in pressure cooker and bring to a boil over medium high heat. Add pork belly and return to a boil, observing the maximum capacity level and removing excess liquids if necessary. Then, on medium-high heat, fasten the pressure cooker lid and set the cooking display with traffic light function on level II. Reduce heat to low and set timer for 10 minutes once the green ring becomes visible.

3. When time is up, set the cooker aside to cool until fully depressurized. Unfasten the lid and remove pork belly from the broth. For enhanced flavor and color, continue with this step; otherwise, skip to the next step. Let pork belly rest and drain for several minutes. Heat a large skillet over medium high heat and quickly sear the pork belly on both sides until golden brown.

4. Allow to rest for 10 minutes before slicing. Prepare ssamjang by mixing all the ingredients and season to taste. Slice pork belly to desired thickness and arrange on a platter and serve warm with ssamjang, cabbage, various lettuces, perilla leaves, sliced garlic and chilies. Enjoy!!

Note: If using a regular large pot, bring broth ingredients to a boil and add pork belly. Return to a boil then cover pot with a lid and simmer on medium heat for 45 minutes to an hour, depending on size of pork belly.

【 韓式水煮五花腩生菜包 】

新鮮五花腩                       700 克
洋蔥                                   1 隻,開四
                                       1 寸,切片
蒜                                       7 瓣
大蔥(白色部分)             2 根
月桂葉                                2 片
韓國大醬                            1 1/2 湯匙
清酒                                   2 湯匙
紅糖                                   1 湯匙
黑椒原粒                            1 茶匙
即溶咖啡                            1 茶匙
                                        1 公升

旺菜                                    1 小棵
粗鹽                                    50 克
溫水                                    710 毫升

韓國大醬                            1 1/2 湯匙
韓國辣醬                            1 湯匙
蒜蓉                                    3 瓣
麻油                                    適量
蔥花                                    適量
芝麻                                    適量

1. 把粗鹽加入溫水拌勻。旺菜開四,放入鹽水醃最少半小時至兩小時,期間偶然把旺菜翻動。醃好後瀝乾水份備用。醃好的旺菜會軟中帶爽、輕微鹹中帶甜。

2.  把所有燉煮材料放入高速煲,用大火煮滾後放入五花腩。待水滾後蓋上高速鍋蓋,調校至 2 速,用中火煲至見綠環後轉慢火,計時 10 分鐘後熄火。

3. 待指示燈降至原位後小心排放剩餘蒸氣然後開蓋。想更加色香味俱全的話,可以繼續此步驟;否則可跳往下一步。把五花腩拿出來靜置數分鐘。燒熱易潔鍋,用猛火將五花腩兩邊快速煎香至金黃色。

4.  把五花腩靜置 10 分鐘。把沾醬材料拌勻再依個人喜好作調味。將五花腩切片上碟,配以韓國沾肉醬、旺菜、生菜、紫蘇葉、蒜片和辣椒即成!

備註: 不用壓力煲,可依傳統做法 — 只要把所有燉煮材料和五花腩用大火煮滾後收中慢火,蓋上煲子,視乎五花腩大小煮 45 - 60 分鐘。

[Follow me on Instagram @alvinckl and @alvin.penthousekitchen and check out my Facebook Fan Page!]

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