This little piggy went to the market,
This little piggy stayed at home,
This little piggy had roast beef,
This little piggy had none,
And this little piggy cried wee wee wee…. ALL THE WAY INTO MY TUMMY!
Okay that’s a bit sadistic, but as anyone who knows me can attest, I love me some PORK BELLY! I also look at sheep and lamb and think.. “MmmMm, lamb chops!”
So in the latest Cooking The Books – Momofuku, I scoured the book looking for a recipe with pork. There were many, but to my joyous eyes, the Pork Belly Ssam sang out, “Pick me! Pick me!”
So I did. It would have been rude not to
What is a Ssam?
Well, ssam literally means “wrapped”, in this case a Pork Belly Ssam means just that. Grill some pork belly, and wrap it in some leaves
To all asunder, this recipe title may sound really simple. But as all who have dealt with David Chang and his Momofuku insanity, you should be aware that this is anything but simple.
To make the actual pork belly, is simple enough. You just need to marinate it overnight, cook it in the oven, take it out, refrigerate it, slice it, then grill it.
It’s the accompaniments which is painful. However, with David Chang’s recipe, nothing is ever wasted, and you could pretty much use the same cooked ingredients in several of his other recipes (e.g. like the Momofuku Ramen Broth and the Momofuku Ramen Cup Noodles)
As difficult as it sounds, this recipe was ultra delicious and I would definitely do it again
(Recipes adapted from David Chang’s Momofuku Cookbook for Cooking the Books 5: Momofuku)
1.1kg of Pork Belly (the recipe asks for it to be skinless but we bought ours with skin still attached for that crunchy crackling to be served separately)
35g of coarse Sea Salt
55g of Sugar (we used Raw Sugar)
Short Grain Rice (to serve)
Lettuce leaves (to serve)
Mustard Seed Sauce (to serve) – recipe below
For the Mustard Seed Sauce
150g of Yellow Mustard Seeds
350ml of Water
350ml of Rice Wine Vinegar
100g of Sugar
1 Tbsp of coarse Sea Salt
3 Tbsp of Dijon Mustard
1 Tbsp of Chinese Hot Mustard (we made our own using Dry Mustard, Sugar, Rice Wine, Water and Vege Oil)
3 Tbsp of Kewpie Mayonnaise (Japanese Mayo)
3 1/2 Tbsp of Spring Onions (sliced thinly)
3 Tbsp of Pickled Cucumbers (diced) – recipe below
Sea Salt and ground Black Pepper to taste
Combine yellow mustard seeds, rice wine vinegar, sugar, coarse sea salt and water in a saucepan. Bring it to a gentle simmer (low heat) for 45 minutes, stirring as often as you can. They should be plump when ready. Cool and store in a pickling jar in the refrigerator (should last for a few months).
Spoon 6 Tablespoons of Pickled Mustard Seeds from the pickling jar and combine with Chinese Hot Mustard, Dijon Mustard, Kewpie Mayo, diced Pickled Cucumbers and sliced Spring Onions in a small bowl. Stir thoroughly to get a good mix of the sauce. Season with salt and pepper and keep in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
For Pickled Cucumbers
2 Lebanese Cucumbers (cut into 3mm thick slices)
1 Tbsp of Sugar (we used Raw Sugar)
1 tsp of coarse Sea Salt
Procedure: Combine sliced cucumbers with salt and sugar in a mixing bowl and toss to mix. Allow cucumbers to sit for 8-10 minutes. Give them a quick rinse to rid off any salt and sugar excess. Dry with tea towel. Dice about 3 Tbsp worth of pickled cucumbers for the Mustard Seed Sauce. The rest of the cucumbers can be served as an accompaniment with the Pork Belly Ssam or with the Pork Buns (another Momofuku dish).
Procedure for the Pork Belly:
Score the pork belly skin. Mix salt and sugar and rub all over pork belly and let it marinate in the refrigerator overnight.
Preheat your oven to 220 degrees Celsius.
Take the pork belly out and discard any excess salt and sugar as well as liquid accumulated. Dry the skin with a tea towel and rub a teaspoonful of coarse sea salt onto the skin (making sure it gets in between the scores).
Put the pork belly into the oven and cook for 45 mins to 1 hour (baste the pork with the rendered fat released after 30 minutes) until it turns golden brown.
Lower the temperature to 130 degrees Celsius and cook for another 30 minutes. Take the pork belly out to cool. At this stage, you’re meant to wrap the pork in aluminium foil and refrigerate it but we skipped this due to time constraints.
Remove the pork crackling (skin) by slicing just below it, through the fat. Reserve it for later. Cut the pork belly into 1cm thick slices.
Before serving, heat your griller or barbeque and grill the pork belly slices until well-browned on each side (recipe states about 2 minutes each side).
Get your pork crackling and cut into small squares or a suitable size for snacking on. Place in a small bowl. This works to be a great accompaniment to the Pork Belly Ssam.
Serve the Pork Belly with the Mustard Seed Sauce, rice, lettuce, cucumbers and crackling.
How are you meant to eat it? Take a lettuce leaf, place some cucumber slices, place a slice of Pork Belly in the middle, scoop some Mustard Seed Sauce and spread on top of the pork, cover it with the edges of the leaf and DEVOUR! While chewing, grab a piece of crackling and eat it along. Or use your chopsticks to grab some rice and eat it along with the Pork Belly Ssam.
You get that juicy-charred belly, sweet-salty cucumber, sharp hit of mustard sauce, crispiness from the lettuce and that crunchiness from the crackling all at once…. IT IS TO DIE FOR!!!