Bossam: What Is It, Taste, and How To Eat?

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Around the world, meat dishes are extremely popular and a good source of protein for your body. 

Korean culture has a cuisine that consists of healthy foods, especially meat. One of these meals is called bossam, but what exactly is it?

Bossam is a South Korean pork dish that is made up of pork shoulder. It’s typically boiled in spices, then served in thin slices. Along with that, bossam has side dishes that accompany it. 

The side dishes vary, but some common ones are the following: sliced raw garlic, kimchi, vegetables like napa cabbage, and spicy radish salad.

The rest of this article will cover what bossam is, how to eat it, and a brief conclusion.

What Bossam Is

Bossam (보쌈 in Hangul) originates from South Korea. It’s a dish that’s normally served with alcoholic beverages. In Korean, this is called anju, or 안주. 

Although not too popular in the States, it’s growing in fame around East Asia because of its versatility and healthiness.

Ssam (쌈) means ‘wrapped’ or ‘packaged’, so bossam is quite literally a wrapped pork and vegetables dish. It’s best eaten in fall or winter since it’s warm. 

Not piping hot or cold, but right in the middle. You should always let the boiled meat cool before you eat it to prevent burns.

There are no vegan options for this dish like there are with other Korean meals. Despite that, there are plenty of vegetables used in the making of bossam. 

To bring out the flavor, spices are added. Soy sauce (called ganjang or 간장) is also used to compliment the ingredients.

Bossam dates back all the way to the 13th century, where it was mentioned in Korean literature. 

Workers were served pork neck with kimchi and ssam. From there, bossam was born and evolved over the years to become the famous pork dish it is today.

Where To Buy Bossam

In South Korea, it’s a famous course you can find at most restaurants. Since it’s a pork dish, you have a better chance finding it at a place that specializes in food containing meat. 

In the United States, you can find bossam at Korean restaurants as well.

Outside of Korea, it’s very rare to find pre-packaged bossam, but you can check with your local grocery store for it anyway. 

With Korean food gaining fame over the years, some Korean restaurants sell their ingredients to the public. Try visiting your local Korean restaurant.

If you’re in an area with no Korean restaurants, you can still have bossam. All the ingredients you’ll need will be at your grocery store.

First, you’ll need the primary meat: pork shoulder. From there, you can hunt for the vegetables you’ll use.

Make sure to pick up the recipe for your chosen side dishes as well. Bossam is best with side dishes and alcohol. 

Here are some side dishes to consider: kimchi fried rice, tofu stew, spicy radish salad, steamed sweet potatoes, and Korean vegetable dumplings (yaechae mandu or 야채 만두)

Pork contains a lot of fat. That’s why when bossam is served, there’s side dishes included. 

The side dishes are a healthy balance and give you lots of nutrition. If you’re going to make bossam, be sure to balance it with side dishes as well.  

How To Eat Bossam

Bossam is a dish that comes in a large portion. Not to mention it’s accompanied by plenty of side dishes (called banchan or 반찬 in Korean). 

Since it’s such a packed meal, it’s recommended that you have it with multiple people.

There are a few ways you can try bossam. The best way is to serve it to a group of friends with alcohol.

Since it’s meant to be served with alcohol, you should try it as it’s intended. To summarize, you should eat bossam with alcohol and with friends.

Also, when you’re done eating the bossam, there’s a small chance you might have leftovers. If that’s the case, you should know how to store it properly.

Eating Bossam With Alcohol

Red wine goes well with pork. For a perfect match, you should specifically go for a red wine that’s more on the juicy side. 

The reason why is because the pork in bossam is mild and juicy, so having a wine with a similar texture would suit the meal well.

However, red wine isn’t the only type you can have. If you look for a rich and full white wine, that can match the pork too. 

The richer the wine, the better. In general, bossam is good with wines that are high in acidity and low in alcohol. Any Riesling from Germany is a perfect fit.

If you’re looking for something more elegant, and you don’t care about the alcohol percentage, you should try dark rum. 

Rum is typically a great pairing with flavors like pork and pineapple.

Eating Bossam With Friends

There’s plenty of bossam to go around. The reason why bossam goes well with friends is because of how many side dishes there are. 

At Korean restaurants, it’s not uncommon to be served free, unlimited side dishes. Having all that food alone would lead to a lot of leftovers.

If you like leftovers, then that’s no bad thing, but it’d be better to share the experience with your friends. 

Not only can you discover a vast array of new foods together, but you can still take some of it home if you’d like. 

How To Store Bossam

Although it’s rare that any bossam is left after the meal, you shouldn’t let anything not eaten go to waste. 

Altogether, you can store the dish in an airtight container and put it in the fridge. Unfortunately, it won’t last long even in the fridge. It’ll only last three days at most.

If you want to preserve the life longer, you can separate the meat from the vegetables and put it in the freezer. 

Again, put the meat and vegetables in airtight containers and put them in. The low temperature will preserve it for several months.

Keep in mind that the longer you have it frozen, the more the meat and vegetables will lose their taste. It’s recommended that you keep it in the fridge instead. 

When you want to reheat, put the bossam in a microwave or steamer. In a steamer, more moisture will come back.

Conclusion

In South Korea, there’s a pork dish by the name of bossam that’s gaining in popularity. 

Bossam is a Korean pork meal served with side dishes like sliced raw garlic, kimchi, vegetables like napa cabbage, and spicy radish salad. The pork is normally thinly sliced.

Ssam means ‘wrapped’ or ‘packaged’, meaning bossam is literally wrapped vegetables and meat. 

It dates back to the 13th century as a food the workers ate. Nowadays, you can have it served to you at a Korean restaurant, or you can gather the ingredients and cook it yourself.

Alcohol, especially rich wines, goes well with bossam. Bossam is a type of food that’s served with alcoholic beverages (this type of meal is called anju). 

Therefore, the best way to eat it is with alcohol and friends. You can also store it in the fridge or freezer if there’s any leftovers.

About The Author

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Jason Park

Jason has been living in Seoul over 4 years and during that time, he has experienced a lot of the city's quirks and charms. He loves to write about his experiences and share them with others who are interested in learning more about South Korea.

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