Pork belly ssam

Jill Dupleix
Pork belly ssam.
Pork belly ssam. Photo: Marina Oliphant

Tender pork belly is lightly cured with salt and sugar, slow-cooked and served ready to wrap in soft lettuce leaves with rice, kimchi and hoisin sauce in an action-packed tabletop adventure.


1.3kg piece pork belly, skin on

3 tbsp coarse salt

3 tbsp soft brown sugar

1 soft-leaf green lettuce (e.g. butter or Salanova)

2 tbsp hoisin sauce

1 tbsp oyster sauce

2 tbsp soy sauce

1 tbsp sweet chilli sauce

Steamed rice for serving

100g kimchi for serving

2 tbsp pickled cucumbers


Score the pork belly skin, right to the edges at one-centimetre intervals. Mix two tablespoons of coarse sea salt with two tablespoons of soft brown sugar and rub all over the pork. Refrigerate for a few hours or overnight.

Heat oven to 150C. Drain off liquid and place the pork belly skin-side up on a rack in a roasting tray, adding water to just below the rack. Bake for three hours, or until soft.

Mix the remaining salt and sugar and scatter over the top. Increase heat to 220C and bake for another 30 minutes to crisp the skin.

Separate the lettuce leaves, wash and spin-dry. Mix hoisin, oyster, soy and sweet chilli sauces. Cut the pork belly into long slices, then across into chunks. Arrange on warm plates and serve with bowls of steamed rice, kimchi, mixed sauces, pickled cucumbers and a stack of lettuce leaves. Each person places a little rice, pork and their choice of condiments in a leaf, wraps and eats.

Tip: You can also cook the pork belly a day ahead, then cut into slices and grill the meat for serving.