Bossam (Boiled Pork Wraps)

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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. Bossam is a family favorite, so it’s a dish I make quite often when my extended family get together. 
Salted napa cabbage is traditional, but you can also use lettuce and/or perilla leaves to make wraps.
Every time I make or eat this dish, I think of my father. He loves it! My father was born and raised in Jeju Island, where Korea’s most flavorful pork (meat from black pig) comes from. So, he knows his pork! When it was time to make kimchi, my mother would boil big chunks of pork. Because there was plenty of salted cabbage and radish stuffing, all we needed was boiled pork to have a delicious bossam feast.
Uncommon for his generation of Korean men, my father spent (still does) a lot of time in the kitchen helping my mother, especially on kimchi making days. He was always the one who cut the meat into thin slices. Then, with his hands wet from pork fat, he would pick a cabbage leaf, place a slice of meat on it, top it with a dollop of the radish mix and a pinch of salted shrimp, and roll it up and enjoy the much deserved bossam. Sometimes, he would add fresh garlic slices, chili pepper slices, and/or fresh oysters.
My father also loves it simply wrapped in a piece of well fermented kimchi with some saewujeot (salted shrimp). Delicious!
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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 (fermented soybean paste) 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? 

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Bossam (Boiled Pork Wraps)

4.18 from 28 votes
Servings: 6
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For the wraps

  • tender inner parts of 1 napa cabbage salted* (or red or green leaf lettuce)
  • * Dissolve 1/2 cup coarse salt in 4 cups of water, and soak the cabbage leaves until softened, 2 to 4 hours. Rinse and drain well.
  • 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.
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  • 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.
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  • 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.
Tried this recipe?Mention @koreanbapsang or tag #koreanbapsang!


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  1. i tried cooking this in the pressure cooker for 20 minutes instead of boiling on the stove. it tastes delicious but i think cooking it in the pressure cooker resulted in meat that was fall-apart tender. i wasn’t able to slice it neatly.

    • You’ll need to further reduce the time. I haven’t tried it in the pressure cooker so not sure exactly by how much, but will update when I try.

  2. Hi! I need your help!
    I love bossam so much, but this is the first time im making it at home.
    My meat is already cut into 1,5 cm x 15 cm chuncks, so how do I adjust the cooking time?? πŸ™‚

    Thank you so much for the help!

  3. Joel Champion says

    My Korean friend taught me her grandmothers recipe for bossam but she didn’t tell me about the radish salad and other things, this technique and side dishes was absolutely spot on! My pork belly was incredible, skin on at her advice. Yum yum yum. Korean food is incredible.

  4. Thank you for sharing this recipe Hyosun-ssi..
    I am an international student in China, and once my neighbor is a Korean family.
    They’re sometimes cooked Korean food and let us eat together with them..
    And there’s one time when they cooked Bossam and i was in love with that food !
    but, they’re moving back to Korea last year so i forgot to ask her how to make it, and i was so happy when i see your recipe , its easy to understand^^
    I tried this recipe yesterday for potluck, and all my friends love it as well..
    i’m so thankful ^^

    • Hi Vinn – I’m very happy to hear you made bossam for your friends and they loved it. Thanks for leaving me the comments!

  5. Hi! I just wanted to leave a message and say how amazing this recipe is. I tried it out tonight and it was unbelievable! The coffee really does the trick (although you can’t taste it in the meat!). I was so surprised by how tender the meat became. This has definitely become one of my favourite recipes. Thank you for sharing it!

    From your new fan in Australia!

  6. Hi! I just recently discovered your website and I LOVE your recipes. I want to try this recipe next. Can I make it in a slow cooker? If so how long do I need to cook it for? Thanks!

    • Hi Ellie – Yes you can. You will not need any water, and it will probably take 4 to 5 hours on high (6 to 8 hours on low), depending on the thickness of the meat and your slow cooker. You will need to watch the time toward the end if you want the meat to be sliceable. Hope this helps.

  7. Great family story. I love this dish! A Korean friend of mine makes it after we make the yearly batch of kimchi. She uses all the same ingredients and adds miso to it as well. Smells great when the pork is simmering.

  8. Question- what is the function of adding bay leaves to the pork belly? I’m thinking that the eucalyptus/menthol flavors that bay leaves have isn’t inherent or natural to traditional Korean food (I’m also thinking of my mom’s Korean palate), so I’m a little confused.

    • You can omit it if you want. Bay leaves and/or seveal other herbs are such as star anise are not uncommon in modern Korean cooking in dishes like this to create a complex flavor. Used in moderation, they enhance Korean flavors.

  9. Robin Pigott says

    I would give ALL 5 stars for this recipe! I am a Korean and this dish was my father’s favorite and one of mine. He was originally from the north of Korea, Shinuijoo to be exact. He wouldn’t use the spicy turnip salad for the wrap (Koreans from the north usually don’t eat very spicy foods). Instead, he just used the saewoojot sauce. When I was little, I remember he often requested my mother to make this dish whenever he wasn’t feeling well. There is a Korean restaurant in LA, specializing this dish where I always go whenever I visit my mother who now resides in LA and your recipe is very comparable if not better. I live in Portland/Vancouver area in the Pacific Northwest. After being disappointed many times, trying this dish in various Korean restaurants, I decided to give your recipe a try. The result was fabulously flavorful and very tender pork! Even my very health conscious American husband couldn’t stop eating it πŸ™‚ Thank you!

    • Thank you, Robin! Your father certainly knew the best. The pork belly is great simply with saewoojeot. I’m thrilled to hear my recipe turned out well for you and your husband. Thank you so much for such a fabulous review of the recipe! I really appreciate it.

  10. Corey Lynch says

    I am moving home with my wife and baby to Canada and am glad to have found this recipe to keep us all happy. I have been so worried about my wife missing Korean food!

  11. Thanks so much for this recipe! I’m making it right now… I’m wondering if there’s anything else you can use the cooking liquid for after you’re done with the pork. Meaning, could it be used as a stock the way you would reuse chicken stock?

    Thank you!

    • Sure, you can use it as a stock. Try it in doenjang jjigae, or anything you will use pork as a soup/stew base. Thanks!

  12. Mheamark Umbod says

    I love cook korean food…all recipes

  13. Fern @ to food witH love says

    Hi Hyosun,
    I made this for dinner tonight and ate it with ssamjang, kimchee and lettuce. It was delicious! Thanks for sharing. I forgot that I had to keep leftover meat in the stock, and threw it out before I realised it! ;p

    • Hi Fern – Thanks for trying the recipe! I’m delighted to hear it was delicious! I’m sure your leftover was still good without being in the stock.

  14. My previous partner used to put soju in it to get rid of the λΉ„λ¦°λ‚΄, I’m thinking about making this for tomorrow night but I was just wondering if it’s necessary to do so. Thank you for your blog! I’d rather read your recipes than comb through naver!

    • Hi Hyunjin – There are enough ingredients in this recipe, such as doenjang, onion, and coffee, that help remove the pork order, so you don’t really need soju or any other alcohol. Enjoy! And thank you!

  15. I ate this yesterday for the first time after a hike up mount Inwangsan in Seoul. What a delicious dish!

    • It is. My family loves it! I’m sure it was even better after the hike up the mountain. Oh I miss Korea…

  16. Mike Rhodes says

    I have been living in Korea for the last two years and this is by far one of my favorites and was the first meal that my fiance cooked for me.

  17. I read that you can use green tea also if you don’t want the caffeine from the coffee. I’ve had bossam at a restaurant, but I’ve never cooked it myself. I’ll have to give it a try.

    • Hi Me – Tea leaves are also used. I have a small jar of decaffeinated coffee that I use for cooking and making ice cream, etc. Please try it and let me know how it turns out. Thanks for visiting!

  18. What a lovely story about your father and bo ssam! Here in North America it has definitely evolved to slow roasted pork with lettuce wraps, so it was very interesting to read your story about the authentic version. I can’t wait to try this!

    • Thank you, Vincci! I know David Chang’s slow roasted version is hugely popular. I’m sure it’s delicious, but that’s a creative interpretation of the dish by the awesome chef Chang, not the traditional way we Koreans prepare bossam. Thanks for coming by! Cheers!