Bossam (Boiled Pork Wraps)

Bossam (Boiled Pork Wraps)

Bossam is boiled pork traditionally served with cabbage wraps. The meat is boiled in a flavorful brine until tender and served thinly sliced. 

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What is bossam?

Bossam (보쌈) is a boiled pork dish. The meat is boiled in a flavorful brine until tender and served thinly sliced. At the table, each person wraps the meat in salted napa cabbage leaves along with radish salad (musaengchae/muchae) and salted shrimp. 

 

Salted napa cabbage is traditional, but you can also use lettuce and/or perilla leaves to make wraps. Now, can you imagine the textural contrasts and the burst of flavors when you bite into this pork wrap?

 

My family loves bossam, especially my father! He was born and raised in Jeju Island, where Korea’s most flavorful pork (meat from black pig) comes from, as seen on Netflix Korean Pork Rhapsody. So, he knows his pork! When it was time to make kimchi, my mother would boil big chunks of pork. Because there was plenty of salted cabbage and radish stuffing, all we needed was boiled pork to have a delicious bossam feast.

 

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Uncommon for his generation of Korean men, my father spent a lot of time in the kitchen helping my mother, especially on kimchi making days. He was always the one who cut the meat into thin slices. Then, with his hands wet from pork fat, he would pick a cabbage leaf, place a slice of meat on it, top it with a dollop of the radish mix and a pinch of salted shrimp, and roll it up and enjoy the much deserved bossam. Sometimes, he would add fresh garlic slices, chili pepper slices, and/or fresh oysters.

 

My father also loves it simply wrapped in a piece of well fermented kimchi with some saeujeot (salted shrimp). Delicious!

 

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The cut of pork for bossam

Pork belly (samgyupsal, 삼겹살) and Boston butt (moksal, 목살) are the most commonly used cuts for this dish. Picnic shoulder (apdarisal, 앞다리살) is another option. You can also use a combination of these. If you’re using a big roast size, cut it into smaller pieces. 

How to boil the pork

Korean cooks add a variety of ingredients to the boiling liquid to eliminate the unique smell of pork and to flavor the meat. The addition of doenjang (fermented soybean paste) is not surprising because pork and doenjang go very well together in dishes like doenjang jjigae.

Coffee is also very common. You can use instant coffee or brewed coffee (about a cup). Lately, I’ve been adding a small bottle (or can) of beer instead of coffee. If using brewed coffee or beer, reduce the amount of water by the equal amount. 

You will hardly taste doenjang, coffee or beer from the boiled meat. They simply enhance the natural flavor of the pork. The result is rich, but subtly flavored, deliciously moist meat!

These are only a guide. You can add different ingredients or use less ingredients to make it more simply. 

To cook the meat, add all the aromatics to the pot with water and bring it to a boil before adding the pork. Bring it to a boil again, cover, and boil for about 45 minutes over medium heat, depending on the thickness of your meat. 

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Bossam (Boiled Pork Wraps)

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Main

Servings: 6

Print Recipe

Instructions

  • In a pot, bring water and all the brine ingredients to a boil over medium high heat, and continue to boil for 5 minutes.

  • Add the pork belly, bring it to a boil. and boil for about 5 minutes, uncovered. Reduce the heat to medium, and cook, covered, until the meat is very tender, 45 to 50 minutes. Cut a small slice and try if tender at 40 minute point before cooking longer. Turn the heat off, and cool the meat in the cooking liquid. This will keep the meat moist.

  • Thinly slice the meat and serve with the salted cabbage (or lettuce), saewujeot, and musaengchae.

Notes

  • The amount of liquid you’ll need depends on the size of your pot. Do not use a large pot because you’ll need more water to cover the meat. 
  • Keep any leftover meat in the cooking liquid. Boil the meat in the liquid to reheat. This prevents the meat from drying out. 

This recipe was originally posted in November 2013. I’ve updated it here with new photos and minor changes to the recipe. 

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