EVENT: Valentine’s Day
VENUE: Cara’s Apartment, Park Slope
PARTY SIZE: 2 (there were leftovers)
MENU: Meat and Scallion Pot Stickers with Tangy Soy Sauce; Momofuku Pork Bo Ssam with White Rice, Butter Lettuce Leaves, and Ginger Scallion Sauce
There are a lot of reasons I was not a Momofuku early adopter, and living across the street from Ssam Bar for a year is not one of them. Mainly, there was the vegetarian issue: most everything at Momofuku is heavy on the pork. But there was also the line-out-the-door issue. I am very grouchy when it comes to waiting to be seated, especially because I know I could have pasta on the table at home in just a little more time than it takes to boil water. Call me curmudgeonly, but that’s how I roll.
Adapted from Momofuku Cookbook by David Chang
1 4-pound pork butt
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup plus 1/2 tablespoon kosher salt
3 1/2 tablespoons light brown sugar.
Combine the sugar and the 1/2 cup of kosher salt. Rub all over the pork, then put in a roasting pan, cover, and refrigerate overnight (at least 6 hours).
Heat the oven to 300°F. Take the pork out of the fridge and discard the juices. Put the roasting pan in the oven and cook for 5-6 hours, basting the butt with the fat from the pan every hour. Turn your fan on and open your windows: your apartment will smell strongly of pork. When the pork is very tender, remove from the oven. You can let the pork rest for up to an hour, or proceed immediately. Drain off as much of the fat from the pan as possible.
Preheat the oven to 500°F. Stir together 1/2 tablespoon salt and the brown sugar. Press it evenly on the top of the pork.
Bake for 10-15 minutes until a crust develops–watch carefully so as not to burn it. This is when you’ll want to open your windows even more, maybe even light some candles. There is pork fat smoking away in your oven.
Serve with short-grain white rice, ginger scallion sauce, chile sauce, and butter lettuce leaves, washed and separated. To eat, arrange a couple spoonfuls of rice in a lettuce leaf. Add sauces as desired. Then reach your chopsticks into the pork and pull out a chunk, making sure to get plenty of the crust. Add to the lettuce wrap, fold it up, and eat.