How to Create a Bossam Board (Pork Wraps)?
What is Bossam?
Bossam is a delicious and flavorful pork dish served with sides such as spicy radish salad, raw garlic slices, bossam sauce, salted shrimp sauce or kimchi . The pork and side dishes are wrapped together in ssam (wrap) vegetables, hence the meaning of bossam is “to wrap” or “to bundle”.
Here’s how to make the ultimate bossam board for your next gathering which will be a crowd favorite. This dish takes time with various steps and ingredients but it’s so worth it! To enjoy a simplified version, cook the pork and serve with your favorite sides, kimchi and rice.
Which Pork to Use:
Pork belly is most commonly used for bossam, but you can use pork butt / pork shoulder as well. ( I cooked both pork belly and pork butt so you can see the difference) . Pork butt and pork shoulder both come from the shoulder of the pig. Pork butt (also called Boston Butt) comes from above the shoulder blades, while pork shoulder meat extends down to the pig’s front hoofs.
I prefer pork butt versus pork shoulder as it contains more fat content and marbling for tenderness. Pork shoulder can be tough as it’s a well used muscle as it extends down to the pig’s hoofs. This cut tends to be better for longer slow cooking recipes but that’s just my personal preference.
In many other recipes, the pork is boiled in water with ingredients such as coffee and doenjang (fermented soy bean paste). The coffee is added for color and to remove the unique smell of pork and doenjang is added to enhance the flavor of the pork.
I have tried that method but I prefer a different method for cooking the pork. Instead of boiling, I steam the pork with onions and apple as I love the combination of pork and apples and it results in a juicier pork as it’s not boiled. I also add rice wine which helps get rid of the unique smell and tenderize the pork, which is a method I’ve used in other recipes.
Pickled Cabbage Leaves (Ssam Vegetables)
Napa cabbage leaves are served with the pork and sides. The leaves are soaked in salt water for at least 2 hours for the leaves to soften and wilt to use as wraps.
You can also soak the cabbage overnight or make it up to 2 days ahead. To make ahead, soak in salt water as directed, drain and store in a container or ziplock bag in the fridge until ready to serve.
While napa cabbage is traditionally served for wraps, you can also use perilla leaves, romaine, green or red leaf lettuce or a combination.
The 2 most common sauces for wraps are salted shrimp sauce and bossam sauce. Salted shrimp sauce is made with fermented salted shrimp and seasonings while bossam sauce is made with gochujang (chili pepper paste) and doenjang ( fermented soy bean paste) and seasonings. Bossam sauce is ssamgang sold in a green tub in stores so feel free to substitute for non homemade.
Spicy Radish Salad with Oysters
To make this popular side to serve with Bossam. Another option is to serve oysters on the side instead.
Some other ideas to add for wrapping or dipping
- Sliced cucumbers ( to dip in bossam sauce)
- Chili peppers, sliced to wrap (whole to dip in bossam sauce)
- Raw garlic, sliced
- Radish, sliced
- Napa cabbage kimchi, to wrap or as a side
- Sesame oil mixed with salt to dip or wrap with pork slices
- Korean Pickles (Jjangachi) which you can find the recipe HERE
Place pork slices on a large serving platter. If using a board, lay some lettuce leaves before adding the pork or other sides. Arrange the ssam wrap vegetables, sides and spicy radish salad next to the pork slices. Serve with salted shrimp sauce or bossam sauce in small containers.
Place a slice of pork on the ssam vegetable along with desired sides. Top with bossam sauce or a very small amount of salted shrimp. (This is very salty so you only need a small amount). Add optional sliced garlic or chili peppers and gather the ssam vegetable to make a wrap and enjoy!
- Cabbage Leaves
- 2 lbs napa cabbage (use mostly the tender inner yellow leaves)
- 1/2 cup coarse sea salt
- 8-9 cups water (enough to cover the cabbage)
- 2-3 lbs pork belly or pork butt / shoulder
- salt and pepper
- 1 onion, sliced
- 1 apple, sliced
- 1/2 cup rice wine or mirin
- 10 -11 garlic cloves, smashed ( 1 garlic bulb)
- 1 inch ginger, sliced
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 green onions, sliced
- Bossam Sauce
- 1/4 cup doenjang (fermented soy bean paste)
- 2 Tablespoons gochujang (red chili pepper paste)
- 1 Tablespoon sugar, honey or rice syrup
- 1/4 cup onion, finely diced
- 1 Tablespoon garlic, minced
- 1 Tablespoon sesame oil
- Shrimp Sauce
- 2 Tablespoons fermented salted shrimp
- 1/4 teaspoon gochugaru
- 1 Tablespoon green onion, chopped
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- a pinch of toasted sesame seeds
In a large bowl, mix water and salt to make a brine. Cut the head of the cabbage to loosen the leaves. Choose the yellow inner parts of the cabbage and add to the brine. Set a plate on top of the cabbage to keep it submerged and soak for at least 2 hours, up to overnight. Rinse, drain and set aside.
In a heavy pot, evenly spread the onions followed by the apples. Place the pork in the pot and season some salt and pepper. Add the garlic, ginger, bay leaves, and green onions on top and surrounding the pork.
Cover and cook on medium high heat for a few minutes first. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 45-60 minutes or until tender, depending on thickness of the pork. Turn off the heat and let rest for 10 minutes in the pot. Transfer to a cutting board to cool, then slice into 1/4 -1/2 inch thick pieces.
In a small bowl, stir the ingredients together. Taste and adjust seasonings to your preference.
In a small bowl, stir the ingredients together. Taste and adjust seasonings to your preference( it should be salty).
Place the pork slices on a large serving platter. If using a board, lay some lettuce leaves before adding the pork or other sides. Arrange the ssam wrap vegetables, sides or spicy radish salad next to the pork slices. Serve with salted shrimp sauce or bossam sauce in small containers.
The pork will taste best right after it's made but you can store in the fridge for up to 2 days before serving. Reheat the pork by pan frying for a couple of minutes or microwave to warm.