It’s been a while in this Korean food journal that I’ve talked about, um, Korean food. I have a lot of stuff in the backlogs waiting to be posted. The thing is, I’m just an explorer, not an expert. So really, I eat some really good food and know very little about it beyond its name (most of the time) and pictures.
Bossam (보쌈) is basically steamed pork with kimchi served with lettuce leaves (the “ssam”). I had this for the first time in the dead of winter. Eun Jeong wanted it for dinner. I thought, “What’s so great about steamed pork? There’s no flavor.”
That’s true. There’s not much flavor in the steamed pork itself. It’s mild. Yet the power of bossam comes in the condiments, particularly the kimchi. The kimchi at bossam places is particularly good. It’s very smooth and a little sweet. It’s almost elegant.
The other condiment that stands out in bossam is the hot shrimp sauce. It’s a sweet vinegary hot sauce flavored heavily with little dried shrimp. You would not think that a seafood tinged sauce and steamed pork would work together, but they do.
Last week, Eun Jeong and I were really hungry. We were too lazy to go to a restaurant. Too lazy to cook. We were tired of the usual order-in fare. I thumbed through the coupon books that regularly are posted outside the door to my apartment.
“How about bossam?”
“I don’t know. Delivery may not be so delicious.”
But the more we thought about it, the more the bossam suggestion cemented in both our minds.
And, yes, it wasn’t as good as a restaurant, but it was damn good for something delivered to the door.
First, the steamed pork. A good amount of this, with a healthy rind of glistening fat.
Then the glorious kimchi. This tasted a lot better than it looks in the picture. It was bright and crunchy with a complex medley of flavors from sweet to sour to garlicky.
The small condiments tray had raw slices of garlic (yes, we sometimes/usually eat garlic raw in Korea), sliced korean peppers, a bag of ssamjang (doenjang and gochujang mixed with garlic and other ingredients), and the red shrimp sauce.
We also had a tray of cold buckwheat noodles that looked like bibim naengmyeon. Yet Eun Jeong said it wasn’t naengmyeon.
With some rice we made ourselves, we had a glorious lunch, making lettuce wraps with whatever we felt like stuffing in our mouths. I think it was just 12,000 won ($12) for the whole set, which fed us with leftovers to spare.