Bossam is boiled Korean pork belly wraps. It involves slow cooking of pork belly and serving it wrapped in napa cabbage leaves with side dishes. Enjoy a healthy and delicious homemade Korean meal with the clear instructions.

Korean bossam is arranged in a platter with cabbag leaves, radish salad, and toppings to make wraps

If you are hosting a dinner party, this Korean pork belly recipe will definitely be delicious and memorable for your guests. Have a bossam party!

This iconic Korean dish is made from boiled pork, garlic, radishes, onions, and other seasonings, then wrapped in a huge cabbage and perilla leaf. You will love the taste and texture, and most of all, it’s fun dining together making bossam wraps with varying ingredients.

What is Bossam?

Bossam is a popular Korean dish, consisting of boiled pork belly wrapped with napa cabbage leaves or lettuce, and served with dipping sauce called Ssamjang (쌈장, or Ssam sauce).

Traditionally a thick cut of pork belly is boiled in a slightly flavored broth until tender and moist. Then each person makes a wrap with a cabbage leaf, a slice of the cooked pork and a variety of side dishes – such as spicy radish salad, raw garlic, salted shrimp (saeu-jeot), fresh chili, and wrap sauce (ssamjang).

Korean Bossam tradition: Every year in the late fall, Koreans make a huge batch of cabbage kimchi to last through the cold winter months. This kimchi making activity is usually done with extended family members or neighbors. When the kimchi making is just finished people gather around and enjoy bossam with salted cabbage leaves or freshly made kimchi.

It is an iconic cultural dish that every Korean shares with one another. Treating any helpers with bossam is a sign of gratitude for their support.

Oven roasted pork belly is another adaptation of this recipe. Also check out my cookbook, Korean cooking favorites, for more pork recipes.

What does bossam taste like?

The pork itself is mild and juicy. But the bossam sauce made with Korean soybean paste (doenjang) and toppings you add in the wrap makes the overall flavor. It’s like having a juicy mild pork with a robust flavor kick mingled together in the mouth.

Plus the crisp tender pickled cabbage and fresh lettuce adds pleasant texture and bites. It can be a little spicy but the spicy level is adjustable.

Which pork cut to use?

Pork belly is the most commonly used pork cut for bossam, but pork shoulder (pork butt) is another good choice. You might find two pork belly options: with skin on or without.

Either one works fine for boiled Korean pork belly recipe but I prefer the one without the skin (although it tends to be more costly) to enjoy the soft and tender texture of bossam. Try my pork belly rice bowl (butadon) recipe for a skin-on pork belly dish.

What is the best way to cook pork belly

Most cooks boil their pork belly for bossam recipe in a broth seasoned with Korean soybean paste (doenjang). Some add coffee or other spices mainly to get rid of any gamey smell.

However, I found it unnecessary. You will lose a lot of natural flavor of the pork if you simmer it in water too long. Simmering a piece of meat in water is good for making soups and stews for which you enjoy the broth you cooked the meat in. We don’t consume the broth after cooking bossam.

I suggest trying a low moisture (minimum moisture) cooking method for bossam. Your pork will cook in its own juice along with vegetables and fruits, which creates sufficient moisture inside the pot while simmering.

The only liquid you add is sweet rice wine (mirim). Other than that, you don’t need any liquid to cook the pork. You will have tender, juicy, and succulent pork meat, guaranteed. And there’s no gamey smell at all!

Ever since I learned the low moisture cooking method for pork belly, I can’t go back to the old-fashioned boiling method to prepare bossam. It’s much simpler, too, with the similar preparation time.

The only drawback is that you will need a heavy bottom pot with a tight lid, such as a dutch oven, in order to obtain the best result. Any heavy bottom pot will do a great job.

How to eat Korean Bossam

The word “bossam (보쌈)” means bundling. Basically, you will bundle up the meat as a wrap using napa cabbage leaves, lettuce, perilla leaves (kkennip), or freshly made cabbage kimchi as a vessel. And don’t forget the ssamjang(쌈장), the topping sauce.

A bossam wrap can be quite big to put inside your mouth all at once. You can bite off a chunk if you prefer. But Koreans put the whole thing in all at once. If you don’t want to make a wrap at all, just enjoy the pork belly and spicy radish salad together, or serve it with rice.

Use lots of toppings to make the delicious bossam wraps. Below options are what goes with bossam.

  • spicy radish salad – recipe follows
  • salted shrimp – use store-bought
  • cabbage – either fresh or salted napa cabbage leaves (instruction follows)
  • cabbage kimchi – freshly made (Try my easy cabbage kimchi or traditional whole cabbage kimchi)
  • fresh oysters – optional
  • assorted lettuce
  • perilla leaves (kkennip)
  • raw garlic cloves – sliced
  • fresh chili – sliced
  • ssam sauce (ssamjang) – one of the common Korean pantry staples. Homemade recipe follows

Another great side dish to serve with bossam will be minari salad. Minari is Korean water dropwort (water parsley). If you can get hold of this detoxifying vegetable, get it and make the minari salad. It is so good together with this Korean boiled pork.

Slices of pork belly and radish salad, and cabbage leaves are arranged to make Korean bossam

How to make Bossam (Korean Pork Belly Wraps)

Step 1: Pickling the cabbage

Use the yellow inner part of napa cabbage.

  • Quarter the cabbage lengthwise. Depending on the size of your cabbage, you might only need 2 of them. Rinse the cabbage pieces with water and drain.
  • In a large shallow mixing bowl, place the cabbage pieces and sprinkle salt over the cabbage trying to reach in between the layers of leaves, especially the thick white stem parts. Let the cabbage sit for 50 minutes, turning them upside down 2-3 times. Rinse the cabbage once and squeeze out the extra moisture.

Another option for cabbage pickling:

  • If you want to prepare the cabbage well ahead of time, use a salt brine instead. Dissolve 1/2 cup salt in 6 cups of water.
  • Soak the cabbage in the salt brine overnight until slightly wilted. Rinse and squeeze out the extra moisture. Keep the cabbage in a zip bag and chill until ready to use.

Step 2: Cook pork belly using low moisture cooking method.

While cabbage is being salted, prepare the pork belly.

  • In a large, heavy bottom pot, put in diced onion followed by sliced apples. Season pork belly with salt and pepper and place it on top. Add the garlic and crumbled bay leaves.
  • In a small mixing bowl, mix together sweet rice wine and ginger puree, and drizzle it around the pork belly. Top the pork belly with sliced leek (or green onion).
  • Cover with lid and let it cook over medium high heat for 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 40-50 minutes depending on the thickness of your meat.
  • Let the pork rest in the pot for 10 minutes, then slice it.

Step 3: Make spicy radish salad (musangchae).

Make this radish salad while pork is simmering.

  • Peel and slice radish into 1/4-inch thick matchsticks. Place them in a mixing bowl.
  • Add corn syrup and 1 tablespoon of salt. Toss well and let it sit for 30-45 minutes. You will see lots of moisture come out from the radish.

Recipe Tip: Corn syrup withdraws the moisture from the radish like no other and it maintains the crunchy texture. The radish sticks will hold their shape and won’t leak much moisture after they are seasoned. The salad will keep its freshness in the refrigerator up to 2 weeks.

  • Squeeze out the moisture firmly and put the radish in to another mixing bowl.
  • Add the Korean chili flakes, Korean fish sauce, salted shrimp, sugar, garlic, Korean plum extract (optional), ginger puree, sesame seeds, and green onion. Mix well and chill in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

Ssamjang sauce for Bossam

You must have the topping sauce called ssamjang for any bossam dish. Store-bought ssam sauce can be convenient, but homemade ssamjang is very easy and quick to make.

Step 4: How to make ssam sauce (Ssamjang)

  • In a small bowl, combine Korean soybean paste, Korean chili paste, garlic, Korean plum extract (optional), and sesame oil. Mix well and chill until ready to serve.
Korean bossam abd radish salad is arranged with pickled cabbage to make bossam wraps

Step 5: Arrange with side dishes and toppings, and serve

  • Put pork belly slices on a large serving platter and arrange the spicy radish salad, salted cabbage, and other wrap materials around it.
  • Serve with salted shrimp, raw garlic slices, and chili slices in small containers near the platter.
  • To make a wrap, place a piece of pork belly on a cabbage leaf, lettuce or perilla leaf. Dot with bossam sauce (ssamjang), and top with a tiny bit of salted shrimp, raw garlic, green chili, and serve. You can also use a piece of cabbage kimchi to wrap a pork.

More Pork Recipes

If you are a pork lover, here are a few of pork recipes that you might like.

Tried this recipe? I would like to hear from you! Please rate it below by clicking stars in the comment section. Stay in touch with me on FacebookPinterestYouTube, and Instagram for all the latest updates.

Bossam (Korena pork belly wraps) are arrange in a platter to serve

Best Bossam Recipe (Korean Pork Belly Wraps)

Korean Bossam (pork belly wraps) involves slow cooking pork belly and serving it wrapped in napa cabbage leaves with side dishes. It’s a healthy and delicious meal.
5 from 3 ratings

Ingredients

For bossam wraps

  • bunch assorted lettuce
  • bunch perilla leaves (kkennip), optional
  • cabbage kimchi, freshly made kimchi preferred
  • bunch fresh oysters, optional
  • 2 tbsp salted shrimp
  • 5-7 cloves fresh garlic , sliced
  • 1-2 fresh green chilies, sliced

For pickling cabbage

  • 1 head (about 2 lb) small napa cabbage, quartered
  • 4 tbsp kosher salt, see note below

For pork belly

  • 2 1/2 lb thick pork belly, preferably skin removed
  • pinches salt and pepper , to season
  • 2 onion, roughly sliced
  • 1 apple, roughly sliced
  • 10 cloves garlic
  • 2 bay leaves, crumbled
  • 1/2 cup sweet rice wine (mirim)
  • 1 tbsp ginger paste
  • 1 Asian leek, optional, roughly sliced

For radish salad

For topping sauce

Instructions 

To pickle the cabbage

  • Use the yellow inner part of napa cabbage. Quarter the cabbage lengthwise. Depending on the size of your cabbage, you might only need 2 of them. Rinse the cabbage with water and drain.
  • In a large shallow mixing bowl, place the cabbage pieces and sprinkle salt over the cabbage trying to reach in between the layers of leaves, especially the thick white stem parts. Let the cabbage sit for 50 minutes, turning them upside down 2-3 times. Rinse the cabbage once and squeeze out the extra moisture.

To cook pork belly

  • In a large, heavy bottom pot, put in diced onion followed by sliced apples. Season pork belly with salt and pepper and place it on top. Add the garlic and crumbled bay leaves.
  • In a small mixing bowl, mix together sweet rice wine and ginger puree, and drizzle it around the pork belly. Top the pork belly with sliced leek (or green onion).
  • Cover with lid and let it cook over medium high heat for 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 40-50 minutes depending on the thickness of your meat.
  • Let the pork rest in the pot for 10 minutes, then slice it.

To make spicy radish salad

  • Slice radish into 1/4-inch thick matchsticks. Place them in a mixing bowl.
  • Add corn syrup and 1 tablespoon of salt. Toss well and let it sit for 30-45 minutes. You will see lots of moisture come out from the radish. Squeeze out the moisture firmly and put the radish in to another mixing bowl.
  • Add the Korean chili flakes, Korean fish sauce, salted shrimp, sugar, garlic, Korean plum extract (optional), ginger puree, sesame seeds, and green onion. Mix well and chill in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

To make bossam sauce

  • In a small bowl, combine Korean soybean paste, Korean chili paste, garlic, Korean plum extract (optional), and sesame oil. Mix well and chill until ready to serve.

To serve bossam

  • Put pork belly slices on a large serving platter and arrange the spicy radish salad, salted cabbage, and other wrap materials around it.
  • To make a wrap, place a piece of pork belly on a cabbage leaf, lettuce or perilla leaf. Dot with bossam sauce, and top with a tiny bit of salted shrimp, raw garlic, green chili, and serve. You can also use a piece of cabbage kimchi to wrap a pork.

Notes

Preparing the cabbage ahead of time:
  • If you want to prepare the cabbage well ahead of time, use a salt brine instead. Dissolve 1/2 cup salt in 6 cups of water.
  • Soak the cabbage in the salt brine overnight until slightly wilted. Rinse and squeeze out the extra moisture. Keep the cabbage in a zip bag and chill until ready to use.
Did you make this recipe?Tag @beyondkimchee on Instagram. I love to see your masterpiece.

This recipe was originally posted in November 2016. I’ve updated the recipe with minor changes, new photos, and more information.