It looks long and involved but it is actually just long. After an overnight curing in the fridge in a mixture of salt and sugar, the meat is slow roasted for several hours. A roast dinner for 6 would have been more labour intensive, as with this all I had to do was bung the meat in the oven and make some sauces. The results were pretty stunning - a lettuce leaf encased a soft blob of rice and drizzled with spring onion and ginger sauce, finally topped with some caramelised pork and spiciness.
The lightness and freshness of the lettuce leaves meant that I could carry on stuffing them in by the handful. The pork was slow roasted to a yielding tenderness and it had us all scrabbling for the edges of the meat, crisp and fatty and coated in an addictive sugary salty crust. I eventually waddled away from the table to collapse on the sofa, groaning in mild discomfort.
You don't have to make your own kimchi, but if you do want to I have a recipe here. It's well worth it just for the sheer smugness of having made everything yourself. I'm not convinced that the Ssam sauce as well as the pureed kimchi is worth it, as they were quite similar in flavour but they're not hard to make so give it a go. All of the ingredients that you can't find in your usual supermarket will be available in your local Asian supermarket or buy it online here.
Adapted from David Chang's 'Momofuku'.
3kg bone-in pork shoulder
Rub 100gr coarse sea salt with 100gr sugar into the pork flesh and cover and refrigerate overnight. The next day, drain any juices from the pan and roast on 150 degrees C for 5 hours, basting every hour. Remove and leave to rest. Just before serving, rub with 5 tbsp soft brown sugar and 1 tbsp coarse sea salt, and roast on the highest setting for 15 minutes. For this part I removed the skin so that the fat was crisp and caramelised.
These sauces can (and should) be made in advance.
1 tbsp chilli bean sauce
1/2 tbsp gochujang - this is a Korean sweet chilli paste
4 tbsp sherry vinegar
4 tbsp neutral oil.
Mix all of the above together until emulsified.
Spring Onion & Ginger Sauce
250gr spring onions, root removed
50gr fresh ginger
1 tsp sherry vinegar
4 tbsp neutral oil
1 tsp coarse sea salt
Slice the spring onions, green and white, thinly and combine in a big bowl with the ginger, minced as finely as possible. Toss with the wet ingredients. This gets better in flavour after about half an hour and will last for a few days in the fridge. Chang recommends eating anything like fresh noodles, or stirring through rice with any leftover.
Kimchi & Sauce
Puree 260gr kimchi in a blender until almost smooth. Place 250gr kimchi in a separate bowl. Now you have all your sauces.
500gr short grain rice (this was labelled pudding rice in the supermarket)
Soak for half an hour and then cook by absorption method, or however best you cook rice. I cook rice in my rice cooker. Long grain can be used too, but this short grain stickier version is more traditional.
2 heads of soft, round lettuce
Separate the leaves and wash well. Soak in iced water until needed - this keeps them fresh - and then spin dry to serve.