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Bossam Brilliance: Tender Boiled Pork Belly

Bossam Brilliance: Tender Boiled Pork Belly

Bossam Brilliance: Tender Boiled Pork Belly

Imagine going to a friend for tips on making kimchi, and not only does she go above and beyond, giving me advice directly from her mom, but she also describes another dish, home-style: you make boiled pork belly with minimal flavoring, so that the pork flavor is uncompromised. You boil it until it is super tender and will melt in your mouth. Take a thin slice of it and wrap it in a whole leaf of kimchi. Put the whole thing in your mouth. The sour, tang, and spice of the cocooning kimchi will seep into the pliable pork belly and the textures of almost crunchy kimchi and soft pork belly will meld together in a perfect marriage of senses. [1]

The Art of Homemade Kimchi

I’m not going to pretend to be a kimchi expert, because I’m not. My parents are from Shanghai so I have no family tradition of burying kimchi and fermenting it for ages, but I think kimchi is personal. Kimchi is unique to every family and is flexible enough that you can develop your own way to do it. Some families use fermented anchovies, others use fermented shrimp, or some just use fish sauce. Some bury it for months. Some make the sour kind and just ferment at home. Kimchi is personal. [1]

I came up with this with a lot of help from my friend Bomin and learned more about different types of kimchi from Matt. They were both dear friends from college, and we were all architecture students. We were in the same studio, sitting next to each other, so you can imagine all the late-night sleep deprived chats we’ve had. Oh, the memories. Alex actually recoiled when I told him I was making kimchi. He went so far as to suggest buying a whole new mini fridge just to store my kimchi, due to the smell. Too bad, dear husband. I promised to make sauerkraut (paired with bratwurst) as a future fermenting project to ease his mind. A compromise, so to speak. [1]

Bossam: Boiled Pork Belly Perfection

Bossam is boiled pork belly wrapped in ripe kimchi (mugeunji). Mugeunji is fermented for months or even years, and usually in a ceramic container underground, so that it is cooler. However, according to my friend Matt, usually sour kimchi is used to accompany bossam, especially when it is made at home. Sour kimchi is fermented for a shorter period. [1]

The secret to boiling these? Apparently, instant coffee. Bomin’s mom uses it, and it’s a well known fact. It takes away the super porkness of pork belly while leaving the desired pork belly flavor, if that makes sense. When it’s done and ready, simply slice it thinly (mine were too thick. Oops) and serve with whole leaves of kimchi! Don’t forget to wrap it. This is important. It’s part of the bossam experience. Please wrap it in a whole leaf of kimchi and shove the entire thing in your mouth. The juxtaposition of crunchy cabbage and soft pork belly, the spicy sour and the pork flavor – it’s indescribable. [1]

The Recipe: Baechoo Kimchi and Bossam

Baechoo Kimchi

– 1 2lb head napa cabbage
– 1 cups sea salt in 8 cups water
– More sea salt for sprinkling
– 1 tbsp grated garlic
– 1 tsp grated ginger
– ¾ cup water
– 1 tbsp sweet rice flour (mochiko)
– 2 tsp sugar
– 2/3 cup gochugaru
– 1 tbsp ground sichuan pepper (optional, I didn’t actually notice a difference, so you can up it or just leave it out)
– 2 cups daikon peeled and cut into thin matchsticks
– 2 cups carrots, cut into thin matchsticks
– 2 tbsp fish sauce
– 5 scallions, trimmed and chopped thinly to 1.5 inch pieces

1. The night before, cut cabbage in half, and sprinkle cabbage with salt, between leaves. In a large bowl, massage salt into the cabbage. It will begin to leak water and soften. Dissolve 1 cups salt into 8 cups water for a brine. Let cabbage halves soak for 30 minutes. Then, drain cabbage (while saving brine) and sprinkle salt between each leaf, putting more salt near the stem. Place back into brine and let soak overnight.
2. Next morning: Rinse cabbage 2-3 times under cold water and then place over a colander to let drain for 1 hour.
3. Yangnyum: Whisk water and mochiko until smooth. Heat in a saucepan, stirring to prevent burning. Reduce heat to low and stir. In about 10 minutes, the mixture will thicken and become translucent. Add in sugar and cook for another minute. Set aside and cool.
4. Add gochugaru and sichuan pepper, garlic, ginger, to daikon and carrot, mix to coat diakon/carrot evenly. Mix in scallions. Add in fish sauce and stir to coat evenly.
5. Stuff carrot/daikon marinade in between the leaves of the kimchi, starting with the largest leaf and going inward. At the end, wrap the largest leaf around the rest of it to package the cabbage nicely. Place in fermentation crock and press lid down.


– 2 thick slabs pork belly, boneless and skin on
– 1 tbsp soy paste (doenjang)
– 1 tbsp instant coffee
– 2 scallions, chopped roughly
– 1 head garlic, tips chopped off
– 2 fresh slices of ginger
– 1 tsp salt
– water, enough to cover pork belly

1. Bring water and seasonings to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes. Add in pork belly and boil for 20 minutes, uncovered.
2. Reduce heat to medium low and simmer, covered until chopstick-tender, about another 45 minutes. Turn heat off and let sit.
3. To store: Keep it in the liquid and place in fridge. It will congeal. Scrape off the top white layer of fat and simply reheat in a pot.

This is so so great! What an intense recipe! I love it, and I can’t wait to try it someday! Looks so delicious! xx [1]