Pulutan or finger food is a favorite accompaniment for bar patron in the Philippines. I remember various finger food appetizers served to guests with sangria and beer. Of particular esoteric favorites– barbequed chicken feet, gizzards, and intestines are often accompanied with sawsawan, a medley of different vinegary dipping sauces. Dried adobo pork spare ribs and sizzling sisig (hot plate of you-name-it-meat, spicy and umami seasoned on a sizzling platter) are also quite popular. Momofuku’s Bo Ssam recipe makes a great finger food and will make a great addition to any cadre of appetizers.
Chef Chang recipe calls for a pork butt, cured overnight in salt and sugar, then slowly cooked in the oven at low heat. It is then finished with a coating of brown sugar that forms a shell of caramelized sweetness. The pork is wrapped in a bib of Boston lettuce and garnished with two dipping sauces–scallion and gochujang sauce. For this recipe, he recommends Kim Chee, fermented napa cabbage in chili paste, but I thought the Filipino atchara, a sweet and sour pickled papaya would make an equally tasty substitute. Serve this with some cold beer and be prepared to lick fingers of the flavorful spicy and sweet richness in every wrap.
- 1 whole bone-in pork butt or picnic ham (about 6 pounds)
- 1/2 cup white sugar
- 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon kosher salt (Diamond Salt, do not use sea salts)
- 7 tablespoons brown sugar
- 2 ½ cups thinly sliced scallions, both green and white parts
- ½ cup peeled, minced fresh ginger
- ¼ cup vegetable oil
- 1 ½ teaspoon light soy sauce
- 1 scant teaspoon sherry vinegar
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste
- 2 tablespoons fermented bean-and-chili paste (ssamjang, available in many Asian markets, and online)
- 1 tablespoon chili paste (gochujang, available in many Asian markets, and online)
- ½ cup sherry vinegar
- ½ cup vegetable oil
- 2 cups jasmine rice, cooked
- 2 heads bib lettuce, leaves separated, washed and dried
- Atchara- pickled papaya (available in many Asian markets, and online)
- In a mixing bowl, mix the ½ cup of salt and ½ cup of sugar. Use a pan to place the pork and rub the salt/sugar mixture all over the meat. Wrap the meat with a plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 6 hours, or optimally overnight.
- Make the ginger-scallion sauce ahead of time to allow the flavors to meld together. In a large bowl, combine the scallions with the rest of the ingredients. Mix together well-adding salt to taste. Cover and refrigerate.
- In another mixing bowl, combine the chili pastes with the vinegar and oil and mix together to make the ssam sauce. Cover and refrigerate.
- Remove the meat from the refrigerator when ready to cook. Heat oven to 300. There may be some juices exuded from the meat which will help rinse off the salt, but if you used a small portion of pork butt, the salt mixture would remain. Rinse the remaining salt mixture from the meat if this has occurred. Place the pork on the middle rack of the oven and cook for approximately 6 hours until tender or meat can easily be pinched off by a fork. Be sure to baste hourly with pan juices. After tenderness is achieved, remove the meat from the oven and rest for about an hour.
- While meat is resting for an hour, cook the jasmine rice. Separate the Boston lettuce into each bib, wash and dry well. Put atchara and sauces into serving bowls.
- When ready to serve to guests, turn oven to broil. In a small bowl, stir together the remaining tablespoon of 1 tablespoon of kosher salt with the brown sugar. If there are remaining pan juices, add to the sugar to help to coat the sugar. Rub this mixture all over the cooked pork. Roast the pork under the high heat until a dark caramel crust has developed on the meat. Serve hot, with the accompaniments.