Momofuku and the Bo Ssäm Experiment
Two things. If you're going to attempt this at home, please don't leave anything out. If oysters aren't your bag, you'll be missing out on an essential part of the meal. Same goes for the pickled korean veggies. You don't like cabbage and bold flavors in general? Well then go get yourself some nuked grub from a gas station market. Bo ssäm is one of those foods where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. To quote Chang himself, "Pork, kimchi, oysters..it's the f***ing magic combination."
I followed the recipe found on NYM (link below), cutting the amounts down to 25% which gave us some leftovers. Obtaining most of the ingredients shouldn't pose a problem if you have an asian food source nearby, but I sort of had to "wing it" on the ssämjang sauce. With only gochujang/kochujang (korean chili paste) on hand, I followed a recipe for ssämjang which incorporated gochujang and a few other ingredients. If all else fails, I suppose sriracha sauce would do in a pinch, but definitely not ketchup!Bo Ssäm recipe - New York Magazine: http://nymag.com/listings/recipe/bo-ssam
Ssamjang recipe - Korean Food: http://www.trifood.com/ssamjang.html
Braising the pork. The recipe says to braise uncovered, but I noticed that an hour into cooking time, things started looking a little dry so I put the lid on. Unless it's pancetta, much of the pork at the supermarket is totally devoid of its fatty skin, so adjust likewise if a) your pork butt or shoulder is looking pretty lean and b) check from time to time to see if it needs some water. Of the 6.5 to 7.5 hours suggested cooking time, my 2½ pound piece needed only 4 hours until it was easy to pull apart. At this point I would also like to add that the brine solution asks for a lot of salt and sugar in relation to the liquid. I found the pork slightly too salty for my taste but I've read several comments that Chang's food does lean on the salty side for some palates. Hey, it's bold flavors man! Personally, I would cut the amounts of salt and sugar by a third the next time around, and place a piece of cotenna (pork rind) on top.
The order of construction, as seen on Anthony Bourdain's chowdown with Chang via youtube: pork, kimchi, oyster, with the rest of the stuff thrown on top I suppose. Any way you choose to layer is totally up to you, but boy did that ssamjang go well right on top of the oyster. This is total finger, hand, kimchi-sauce-dripping-down-your-chin food, where the sight of all that spiciness and protein will make you giddy with expectation. Anyone up for a wrap-n-roll party at my house? Chapchae and haemul pajeon? BYOB.