Bo Knows Ssam « blogging for burgers

Bo Knows Ssam

So burgergal’s dad took me and a couple of friends to de-virginize us as to the ways of the momofuku ssam bar bo ssam.  In case you haven’t heard of it, it is basically a giant hunk of pork rubbed with salt and brown sugar slow roasted until the outside is crispy and inside is a tender pork fat explosion.

But before the main event, I’ll set the stage.  I snuck out of the office a bit early to make the 6.30pm seating, and hopped on the 6 train down to union square.  Walking east on 13th street, I crossed 3rd avenue and was met by a beautiful smell.

No, not roasted pork, but powdered donuts.  I didn’t know where the smell was coming from, but I suspected that it was the momofuku milk bar.  But it wasn’t!  I still find it hard to believe that someone was making donuts in their apartment and then covering them with powdered sugar, but I am going to hold out hope.  At that point, I knew that it was going to be a solid night.

I walked into momofuku ssam, and I must have had the look of a pork-driven lunatic, because as soon as I stepped in the door, the host asked me as though he knew the answer, “you’re here for the bo ssam?”  I was indeed.

Once the full battalion of troops had arrived, we started with a few innocent appetizers, you know, just to get the palates cleansed and ready for a PORK FAT EXPLOSION.  Let me see if I can recall what we had:

– Seasonal pickles: pretty unmemorable, but the green tomatoes were good

– hawthorne valley buttermilk: this was pretty unique; it was a solidified buttermilk block in an apple dashi with pinenuts.  Very sour, like plain yogurt.

– hamachi: very tasty cured hamachi tuna

– Uni: it had been a while since I had had sea urchin, and I forgot how much I enjoy it.  And these sea urchin were friggin tasty.  They had just a touch of ocean, but otherwise were smooth like silk.  They made me think about the episode of Tony Bourdain’s show where Eric Ripert prepared pasta with sea urchin, which looked delicious.  It goes a bit against my desire to eat local, because I think they come from Santa Barbara.

– Scallops: Seared to perfection, buttery smooth.

After all of that food, you would think that we would have been done.  But oh no, we had not even started.  The main event arrived, like a golden brown hunk of goodness.  And did I mention it is seven pounds, bone out? I’m pretty certain Momo uses Bev Eggleston’s pork products, since they are used for other dishes there, so it can be eaten in clean conscience.

The bo ssam arrives with a dozen oysters and a slew of kim chi and other sauces, and a bunch of butter lettuce.  The man who brought me this treasure trove instructed us to take the first bite with no sauce, only pork and an oyster.  I did just that.  I never thought that this pairing would work, but did it go down nicely.  I then stuffed my face with more pork for the next hour, until it was just a mass of semi-congealed fat and meat.

At some point towards the end, it looks like this:


You see that salty sweet crust?  You see that tender pork flesh?  Imagine it in your stomach.  I don’t have to, because it was already there.  You know it.

Momofuku Ssam Bar
2nd Avenue and 13th Street

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