Bossam (보쌈) is a boiled pork dish. The meat is boiled in a flavorful brine until tender and served thinly sliced. At the table, each person wraps the meat in salted napa cabbage leaves along with radish salad (musaengchae/muchae) and salted shrimp. Salted napa cabbage is traditional, but you can also use lettuce and/or perilla leaves to make wraps.
Pork belly (samgyupsal, 삼겹살) and Boston butt (moksal, 목살) are the most commonly used cuts for this dish. Some people also use picnic shoulder (apdarisal, 앞다리살). Korean cooks add a variety of ingredients to the boiling liquid to eliminate the unique smell of pork and flavor the meat. The addition of doenjang is not surprising because pork and doenjang go very well together in dishes like doenjang jjigae. Many years ago, word got around, among us Korean home cooks, that coffee was the secret ingredient. Well not so secret anymore. We all use it. You will hardly taste doenjang or coffee from the boiled meat. They simply enhance the natural flavor of the pork. The result is rich, but subtly flavored, deliciously moist meat!
Now, can you imagine the textural contrasts and the burst of flavors when you bite into this pork wrap?
For the wraps:
tender inner parts of 1 napa cabbage, salted* (or red or green leaf lettuce)
Radish salad (musaengchae) – See recipe.
saewujeot (salted shrimp)
For the meat:
2 whole fresh pork belly about 3-inch wide cut (about 2.5 pounds)
1/2 medium onion
2 – 3 white parts of large scallions
7 – 8 plump garlic cloves
1 inch ginger piece, sliced
1 teaspoon whole black peppers
1-1/2 tablespoons doenjang (fermented soybean paste)
1 teaspoon instant coffee (or a cup of brewed coffee)
1 teaspoon salt
2 bay leaves
10 cups water
Bring the water and all the brine ingredients to a boil over medium high heat, and continue to boil for 5 minutes. Add the pork belly and boil for 20 minutes, uncovered. Reduce the heat to medium low, and cook, covered, until the meat is very tender, 40 to 50 minutes. Turn the heat off, and cool the meat in the cooking liquid. This will keep the meat moist.
Thinly slice the meat and serve with the salted cabbage (or lettuce), saewujeot, and musaengchae.
Keep any leftover meat in the cooking liquid. Boil the meat in the liquid to reheat. This prevents the meat from drying out.