Sorry to have been so quiet of late, and thanks to those of you who I see have still been popping by to check whether I am still alive or not, but I have been a) working hard putting the finishing touches to my latest book ('Eat, Pray, Eat', out in August, so probably best to start saving now), which I delivered - all 93,000 glorious, perfectly chosen, earth-shattering words of it – just before Christmas,
b) dealing with snow,
and, c) most importantly of all, preparing an elaborate, show-offy New Year's feast for 20 people who somehow ended up staying at our house this year.
In honour of an impending trip to New York at the end of the month, I thought I'd have a go at a dish I have been eyeing from afar for quite a while, David Chang's monumental Bo Ssam, as served at the Momofuku Bo Ssam Bar.
I found a recipe online, which told me to marinade a great hunk of pork shoulder in a sugar-salt rub overnight.
There's my baby! Though the recipe didn't specify it, I figured out for myself that the sugar-salt rub has to be rinsed thoroughly off before cooking (recipes! Cuh! Never trust 'em).
Ssshh, precious is sleeping…
Meanwhile, to open the oysters… yes, oysters. Oysters and pork. Wait, give it a chance…
…While I got to work with my absolute favouritest kitchen gadget: my ginger grater for the amazing ginger and spring onion sauce, a Momofuku classic apparently. Simple, cheap, but blimmin' brilliant.
(By the way, do you know the best way to peel ginger? Rub the skin off with a teaspoon. Honestly, try it. It's fantastic, and there is virtually no waste, you can even negotiate the knobbly bits. It is my single greatest piece of kitchen – or any other – advice).
Things go a bit downhill from here picture-wise as the champagne was already in full flow by this point, but after eight hours of cooking at about 130C, that porky vision of gorgeousness got its final sugar and salt rub, before another quick, high temperature blast in the oven. The result: you could simply pull that sucker apart with a pair of forks, and it was super-moist.
So, the deal was, you took a leaf of soft lettuce, added some sushi rice, the pork, some of Peter's kimchi sauce (annoyingly, probably the highlight of the whole kaboodle – just like the genius ad creative to swoop in, spend five minutes stirring things up, and swoop out with all the credit), and an oyster, wrap it all up, and shove it in your cake-hole.
It looks like a car crash on a plate (and I ain't no Cartier-Bresson) but, trust me, the blend of sweet, moist, shredded pork, plump briny-metallic oysters, fresh lettuce, vinegary rice and deeply savoury, perky-spicy sauce was intergalactically, synapse-bustingly blissful. As Anthony Bourdain said on first tasting it, 'I would swap any number of my early sexual experiences to taste this.'
Bo Ssam! Bo Selector!*
Happy New Year.
(* I have no idea what I mean by this.)