Momof*cku’s Bo Ssam Recipe (2024)

Recipe from David Chang and Peter Meehan

Adapted by Sam Sifton

Momof*cku’s Bo Ssam Recipe (1)

Total Time
7 hours, plus 6 hours’ seasoning
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This is a recipe to win the dinner party sweepstakes, and at very low stakes: slow-roasted pork shoulder served with lettuce, rice and a raft of condiments. The chef David Chang serves the dish, known by its Korean name, bo ssam, at his Momof*cku restaurant in the East Village and elsewhere. He shared the recipe with The Times in 2012. Mr. Chang is known as a kitchen innovator, but his bo ssam is a remarkably straightforward way to achieve high-level excellence with little more than ingredients and time. Simply cure the pork overnight beneath a shower of salt and some sugar, then roast it in a low oven until it collapses. Apply some brown sugar and a little more salt, then roast the skin a while longer until it takes on the quality of glistening bark. Meanwhile, make condiments – hot sauces and kimchi, rice, some oysters if you wish. Then tear meat off the bone and wrap it in lettuce, and keep at that until everything’s gone. —Sam Sifton

Featured in: The Bo Ssam Miracle

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Yield:6 to 10 servings

    Pork Butt

    • 1whole bone-in pork butt or picnic ham (8 to 10 pounds)
    • 1cup white sugar
    • 1cup plus 1 tablespoon kosher salt
    • 7tablespoons brown sugar

    Ginger-scallion Sauce

    • cups thinly sliced scallions, both green and white parts
    • ½cup peeled, minced fresh ginger
    • ¼cup neutral oil (like grapeseed)
    • teaspoons light soy sauce
    • 1scant teaspoon sherry vinegar
    • ½teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste

    Ssam Sauce

    • 2tablespoons fermented bean-and-chili paste (ssamjang, available in many Asian markets, and online)
    • 1tablespoon chili paste (kochujang, available in many Asian markets, and online)
    • ½cup sherry vinegar
    • ½cup neutral oil (like grapeseed)


    • 2cups plain white rice, cooked
    • 3heads bibb lettuce, leaves separated, washed and dried
    • 1dozen or more fresh oysters (optional)
    • Kimchi (available in many Asian markets, and online)

Ingredient Substitution Guide

Nutritional analysis per serving (8 servings)

1176 calories; 71 grams fat; 19 grams saturated fat; 1 gram trans fat; 34 grams monounsaturated fat; 13 grams polyunsaturated fat; 54 grams carbohydrates; 2 grams dietary fiber; 34 grams sugars; 78 grams protein; 1858 milligrams sodium

Note: The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.

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Momof*cku’s Bo Ssam Recipe (2)


  1. Step


    Place the pork in a large, shallow bowl. Mix the white sugar and 1 cup of the salt together in another bowl, then rub the mixture all over the meat. Cover it with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours, or overnight.

  2. Step


    When you’re ready to cook, heat oven to 300. Remove pork from refrigerator, brush any excess sugar mixture off the fat cap and discard any juices. Place the pork in a roasting pan and set in the oven and cook for approximately 6 hours, or until it collapses, yielding easily to the tines of a fork. (After the first hour, baste hourly with pan juices.) At this point, you may remove the meat from the oven and allow it to rest for up to an hour.

  3. Meanwhile, make the ginger-scallion sauce. In a large bowl, combine the scallions with the rest of the ingredients. Mix well and taste, adding salt if needed.

  4. Step


    Make the ssam sauce. In a medium bowl, combine the chili pastes with the vinegar and oil, and mix well.

  5. Step


    Prepare rice, wash lettuce and, if using, shuck the oysters. Put kimchi and sauces into serving bowls.

  6. Step


    When your accompaniments are prepared and you are ready to serve the food, turn oven to 500. In a small bowl, stir together the remaining tablespoon of salt with the brown sugar. Rub this mixture all over the cooked pork. Place in oven for approximately 10 to 15 minutes, or until a dark caramel crust has developed on the meat. Serve hot, with the accompaniments.



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Cooking Notes

Ben Cripps

I have made this numerous times. Everyone loves it.

I found that the salt/sugar mixture at the final stage, tended to fall off of the roast. Basically I would have small patches of sugar with the rest ending up on the bottom of the roasting pan.

I experimented a bit and now I add a small amount of cider vinegar to the salt/sugar combo. It forms a nice paste that stays in place and forms a nice lacquer. I also used water and various liquors but landed on the vinegar as the best.


The one cup of white sugar and one cup of kosher salt that you cure the meat with for 6 hours, do you leave it on the meat or wipe it off before baking at 300 degrees?


I prepared thanksgiving for the Girlfriends family. All twenty-three of them. Yes there was turkey and the green bean casserole, I couldn't help but throw this in the mix along with crab Rangoon. They like me now.


re the dry rub. For what it's worth, there's quick video of Chang & Martha Stewart prepping this and he says don't remove the rub prior to cooking.


I've made this several times, and it's always been a hit. A couple suggestions:
-It makes A LOT. Plan on feeding at least six, but up to 10 or 12.
-Secondly, for some reason my crowds really heap on the ginger-scallion sauce, and I've taken to (yes, really) tripling the recipe.


I desperately wanted to make this for Father's day but live in a small house and the idea of running the oven for 6+hours in the summer heat was unappealing. Cooked the pork in my slow cooker for 8 hours and then followed instructions, coating the meat brown sugar and placed it in the oven for 20 minutes on 500. Turned out perfect, soft on the inside, crispy outside and my house was a comfortable temp for all!


Here is an interesting piece of info that might clarify the salt debate. The Jan/Feb 2017 issue of Cook's Illustrated reports that there are significant differences in sodium chloride levels in the three main salts used by cooks. This could account for the differing results. I know the time I didn't use Diamond Crystal salt, my bo ssam was nearly inedible. They say:
1 tsp. table salt = 1.5 tsp.Morton Kosher salt = 2 tsp. Diamond Crystal salt


I've made this twice, once as written (but halved) and another in a slow cooker. The slow cooker was better, so sharing if it's helpful: 3.5 pound boneless shoulder. Halved salt in initial rub (i.e. 1/6c salt to 1/3c sugar for 3.5 pds), 12 hrs. Browned sides in a pan over medium heat, ~1-2m each side. Slow cooker on low for 7 hrs. Finished as written. Suggestion to add apple cider vinegar to brown sugar worked great. Previously, it all ran off and burned, setting off smoke alarms.

Sam Sifton

Skin up!


It's the same cut of meat. Pork shoulder is also called Pork Butt or Boston Butt. Living in Boston for a number of years, I always just took this interchangeability for granted, but a quick search reveals that the term 'butt' originates from the wooden casks, called butts, that were used to encase the cheaper off-cuts of meat for storage or shipment around the time of the American Revolution, and not the anatomy of the animal. So there you go!


This is my third time making this dish, and all three times it's been received rapturously (really, who can argue with candied crackling and fork tender meat?).

The recipe as it is, is amazing. But my favourite hack so far is using radicchio instead of the bibb lettuce. The bitterness of the radicchio is great with the salty-porkiness and zingy condiments.


Save a step. Whole Foods carries the Ssam sauce pre-made. Woot!


Use parchment paper on the bottom of the roasting pan.


I've made this several times now, but instead of the ssam sauce I mince fresh hot chilies (Thai or habaneros) & raw garlic and let them sit in a mixture of rice wine vinegar, salt, & sugar for a couple hours. (I also like to make Japanese-style cucumber salad -- tastes great in the wrap!) Also, I rinse the salt/sugar off the pork and cover the pan tightly with aluminum foil for the slow roast. That way, I don't have to baste, and I don't get a hard-to-clean mess. :)


Best. Pork. Ever. We call it pork crack! ;) We are a family of four and thus had a lot of leftovers. One of our favorite ways to use up the leftovers is to mix some ramen noodles with the pork and the scallion ginger sauce and top with a poached egg and the ssam sauce. Absolutely delicious! We have also done similar with leftover rice that we stir fry. Can't go wrong with this recipe the day you make it or with leftovers!


What other meat and meat cut would you use?Thank you


Full cups of sugar and salt is comically more than necessary. I just have a bowl full of the mixture now. Next time, I’ll mix 1/4 cup of each and we where we’re at.

tegan lee

can I make this with beef??


Three heads of lettuce? That’s a lot of lettuce. There are no directions so it’s heaped in a bowl I guess. Also, the oysters. Like the walrus and the carpenter they just standing about? Alas, I’ve not had the opportunity to eat at momf*cku so somebody clue me in, please


What about we oysters?

Joanne Robinson

Such a wonderful and special family and friend meal.


I have made this before with great success. Short on time I decided to try my Instapot. Smaller bone in pork shoulder (7#) marinated for 24 hours, 1c water, low pressure for 60 minutes with natural release. Finished as directed in the oven. Not quite falling off the bone, but the flavor was good. Next time I’ll add 5-10 min to the IP, should be perfect. Low pressure is critical so the meat is tender and juicy.


Making this tonight, but with 2 3.5 lbs of pork butt. Is roasting time the same, or should I halve it?


What more can I say. This is simply fantastic!


Made this today in the slow cooker about 7 hours on high for an 8 lb butt ( no skin). Brushed off the residual salt/ sugar mix before cooking - used 3/4 cup each. Finished in the oven. Loved it.

Barbara Price

Prepared per recipe, except with a smaller cut of meat so I proportionally reduce sugar/salt mix. Sat overnight (I'm not sure how many hours, and this may be key to my results). Wiped off excess (not much) and drained syrup. Slow oven, 5 hours (smaller cut) but it didn't slump before I needed to take it out. End result is way too salty for my taste!


How would you recommend making this ahead of time?

canyon cooking

This was a miss for me. Cured 4 lb butt for 24 hours, then cooked 7 hours before fork tender. Skin and insides were delish but sides and bottom bark were too tough. Not much to baste though I did. Next time I’ll start in instapot or wrap in foil part way, then finish under broiler.


Are people supposed to layer the fresh oysters into the wrap? Somehow it’s a disconnect for me..making Saturday for many, so any tips here are appreciated!


So good! Made with 4lb, so cut everything in half. Followed another reviewer’s suggestion to brown all sides in a pan and then cook in a slow cooker on low for 7 hours. After that, put a splash of white vinegar (didn’t have apple cider) in the sugar/salt paste to help it stick. Also didn’t have a roast pan so covered a cookie sheet in tin foil and it worked perfectly. Fat was crisped up beautifully within 10 min at 500. Both sauces were fantastic. Served with lettuce, rice, and kimchi.

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Momof*cku’s Bo Ssam Recipe (2024)
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