host: communal korean party, or how do you say cheers in korean?
So it’s true that sometimes we like to throw parties that are a little more on the formal side, with plated dishes and shiny candlesticks (I mean, how else can you use all of those “seemed like a great purchase” miscellaneous utensils that have piled up over the years?). But sometimes all you want to do is grab a bunch of friends and sit around a table piling your plate with whatever’s closest and making the perfect bite of salty meat, crisp lettuce, spice, and crunch.
Enter the Korean birthday fiesta.
The man had been desperate to make this NYTimes recipe for bo ssam pork shoulder, begging to make it every time we invited someone over, regardless of whether they were vegetarian or had a fear of spicy foods.
His birthday seemed like the appropriate time to fulfill his dreams, and so, off he went to get a pork butt (winner’s note: if you can, purchase the Boston butt cut, or so I am informed). This was then covered in sugar and salt and stored away in the fridge overnight. The next day it popped into the oven to roast for six hours, when it was finally taken out, we (he) covered it in brown sugar and salt and tossed back into a very hot oven. When it came out, it was black and crusty and the meat fell apart under the skin.
We paired it with a grilled chicken, marinated in coarse gochugaru flakes and salt, a scallion ginger sauce, and copious amounts of ssam hot sauce.
And the rest was completely and utterly store bought, appetizers and rice included (favorite cheat of the moment: every delivery chinese spot offers rice for $1. When you have a big crowd and your kitchen is already bubbling over, it’s a lifesaver).
Kimchi in both its cabbage and radish versions, tiny anchovies with chili and tiny anchovies with peanuts, bean sprouts, tofu, and a friend’s incredible hobak jeon, or battered zucchini rounds, rounded out the meal.
Paired with enormous beer cans (because what is more fun or more Korean?) and champagne, because, well, happy birthday to us all.