Paul Flynn: My take on a famous pork shoulder feast
A joyful, Korean-style, family-sized meal inspired by US titan David Chang of Momofuku
Roast pork shoulder, hoisin sauce. Photograph: Harry Weir
In the US David Chang is a titan who dragged himself up from humble Korean immigrant beginnings, worked his ass off in elite New York restaurants, but found his soul in a broken-down chicken shop in the Lower East Side.
He clad the walls in plywood as that was all he could afford, took on one more cook and started opening late into the night offering ramen and bao. His first customers were local exotic dancers, who tottered in bleary and cynical. Then others came. A place with low expectations, banging music, great food and a touch of sleaze is a magnet for a chef. Word got round and Momofuku quickly became a mecca. The former chicken shop gave birth to an empire that has much kudos, Michelin stars and a TV career for its originator.
I’ve eaten there twice. The last time we sat by the kitchen, always my favourite spot. A glistening hunk of meat sailed past me like a burnished Steinway and landed on the next table. It was Bo Ssam, a wobbly, slow-cooked pork shoulder, served with abundant sauces, pickles and lettuce in which the joyous mixture was wrapped and then eaten. It was a eureka moment for me, the joy of serving and eating food family-style.
This is a feast for when we can gather again, but you could also adopt the concept and scale down to suit your household. Or make it anyway, and feast for several days. He uses bone-in, which is always better but a little hard to get. Try your local Polish shop for the pork shoulder – there are always meaty jewels to be uncovered there.
I’ve taken out some salt from the recipe – not something I usually say – and added a touch of soy and some garlic in my interpretation. The slaw is a cooling relief from the meat. The spicebag spice is a nifty addition.
Pickles perk things up. When you think you have had enough, just pop a little more cucumber on top; you’ll be grand. Lynda Booth gave me this excellent pickled cucumber recipe, which I use all the time.
ROAST PORK SHOULDER, HOISIN SAUCE
100g coarse salt
100g golden brown sugar
100ml soy sauce
4 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
4kg of boneless pork shoulder
300ml hoisin sauce
2 heads of butterhead lettuce, trimmed, rinsed and patted dry
Bunch of coriander
1 Put the salt, sugar, soy and garlic into a food processor and pulse for 30 seconds.
2 Put half the mixture on to a tray, then sit the pork on top .
3 Rub the remaining mixture over the rest or the pork, wrap and marinate overnight in the fridge.
4 Set the oven to 140 degrees. Rub the marinade off the pork and transfer the meat on to a roasting tray along with 400ml of water.
5 Cook for four hours until it forms a dark crust and is completely tender.
6 Mix any leftover cooking juices into the hoisin sauce.
7 Serve on a platter, with the lettuce, slaw, cucumber pickle and coriander. The pork will simply pull apart. Use the lettuce to wrap the pork and the accompaniments.
1 large head of celeriac, peeled and grated
2 carrots, peeled and grated.
1 red onion, peeled and very thinly sliced
50g raisins, soaked in boiling water
400ml creme fraiche
1tsp spicebag spice
Juice of 1 lemon
Salt and pepper
1 Put the vegetables into a bowl.
2 Drain the raisins and add them and all the remaining ingredients to the vegetables.
3 Check for seasoning, mix well, then chill until needed.
A FAB AND EASY CUCUMBER PICKLE
2 cucumbers, lightly peeled (leave a little of the green on for colour)
250ml rice wine vinegar
250g caster sugar
2 shallots, peeled and finely sliced
1 red chilli, deseeded and finely diced
1 thumb-sized piece of ginger, peeled and shredded
1 Slice the cucumber very thin – a mandolin is perfect for the job if you have one.
2 Bring the rice wine vinegar, water and sugar to the boil. Add the shallots, chilli and ginger.
3 Remove from the heat, allow to cool and add in the cucumber .
4 Chill the pickle and use whenever you need it. It’ll keep for a week in the fridge but the colour will fade.