Ever since we had the backyard renovation, I’ve been wanting to do a whole pig roast. Except, it’s kind of expensive and you need a lot of people to eat the, you know, whole hog. I think for a good sized pig, you can feed 100 people. We didn’t have 100 people at our wedding, where would we ever round up that many people for a party?
So, when I get it in my head to chow down on porky goodness, we try to round up enough people to help us make a dent in a 7-pound pork roast. Not just any pork roast, though, a Momofuku-style pork roast. When we were in New York, one thing we had to do before we left was eat one of David Chang’s steamed pork buns, a pillowy soft bun stuffed with tender pork belly. We couldn’t reasonably take part in his bo ssam dinner, so when we got home I ordered up his cookbook.
Some of the recipes in the cookbook are time-consuming and some have hundreds of steps. Some are time consuming because they have hundreds of steps! But I haven’t been disappointed with a single recipe I’ve tried and his bo ssam recipe, along with the green scallion sauce, have become my go-to dishes. I’ve taken them to potlucks, and we’ve made it while camping. I’ve never heard anyone turn it down.
It takes about 6 hours to roast a 7-pound roast, but you end up with a tender piece of pig coated in a crispy, sugary, salty crust. The green scallion sauce is onion-y, salty, and ginger-y. It also goes perfectly on just about anything it touches. We get our pork roasts from Costco, which come in approximately 14-pound packages, but it’s also two roasts. You can either roast both (still takes about 6 hours) and invite a boatload of friends over, or just roast one and invite slightly fewer people (and then freeze the other roast for later). One roast has fed about 8 people, with a third of the pork leftover.
I usually serve the pork with rice and lettuce for wrapping and I’ve also been known to just shove pork and sauce straight into my mouth (usually when cleaning up the kitchen after guests have gone home). We threw a pig party over the weekend (along with two other pork roast styles) and we served them with Chinese steamed buns. 99 Ranch conveniently sells them ready-to-steam, which is way easier than making them from scratch!
That, right there, is going to be a good bite!
So, after making this faux-bo ssam multiple times, I’ve learned a few things and have simplified it to the point of hardly any measuring. I bet you want to know how this pig magic happens. You’ll probably be slightly disappointed at my lackadaisical methods. Sorry.
For the pork: Like I said, a 7-pound roast will take 6 hours at 300 F. The night before, combine equal amounts kosher salt and sugar in a bowl and rub it over the roast (I usually use 1/2 cup each and rub it onto every, single surface.) Either place the pork into a bowl and refrigerate it covered, or it will fit in a 2-gallon Ziploc bag (that still needs to be refrigerated). When you’re ready to go, place the pork in a roasting pan and baste it every hour (or not, whatever). I’ve also done this in an uncovered dutch oven, but the sides of the roast don’t get as crisp this way.
After 6 hours, the pork will fall apart at the touch of your tongs, but don’t shred it yet! Sprinkle some brown sugar over the surface of the roasted pork and return it to a now-500F oven until the sugar melts and crisps up.
For the sauce: There’s a lot of measuring in the original recipe, some of it down to 1/2 teaspoon in a bowl holding 3 cups of sauce! I’m here to tell you, the deliciousness doesn’t need this attention to detail. For a full roast pork recipe, I use 3 bunches of green onions for the sauce. Slice the white and green parts of the onion and add a spoonful (say, 1 tsp) of rice vinegar and one of soy sauce. Grate about 2 inches of peeled ginger into the mix and add about 1/4 cup of grapeseed oil. Salt to taste (which I think is about 1 tsp). It won’t look like much at first, but after a few minutes it will meld into a lovely sauce.
Serve with rice, bread, buns, or your favorite sauce-soaking carby goodness. And beer. Enjoy!