Korean boiled pork belly (bossam) is a super tender pork dish topped with a delicious trendy sweet garlic sauce made super easy in minutes in an Instant Pot but also easily cookable over the stove.
It’s almost like the instant pot was made for bossam. The pork is often simply boiled for about 45-60 minutes over the stove with a few ingredients but is made super easy with an Instant Pot so you don’t need to monitor the boil at all! It can be done from just a 16-22 minute timer!
What is Bossam?
Bossam is a classic Korean dish of boiled pork (often pork belly) that is cooked with a bit of dwenjang (Korean soy bean paste) and a few ingredients that infuse into the meat to help get rid of any unique meaty flavors and to make the pork flavorful and delicious. While it’s often served with pickled napa cabbage, oysters, fermented shrimp and ssamjang, today we’ll be topping bossam with a super trendy slightly sweet garlic sauce.
What is this garlic sauce?
It’s become very trendy in Korea to top bossam with spoonfuls of a slightly sweet and tangy garlic sauce. Koreans already consume a LOT of garlic and with the believed health benefits (more here), it’s become a new and trendy way to enjoy! It also meshes really well with the spicy radish side dish that it’s often served with. Delicious tender meat with a sweet garlic sauce combined with spicy salty radish!
Optional Ssamjang: For a slightly spicier counterpart to the garlic sauce, make ssamjang. Ssamjang is a standard dipping sauce from Korean red pepper paste and soy bean paste for Korean grilled meats.
Instant Pot: While the pressurizing time with the cooking time doesn’t shorten the time too much, every ten minutes saved before dinner prep is precious on a weekday night! It also means we don’t need to baby the boil and we can throw the meat and vegetables/spices into the instant pot and forget about it. Over multiple times, I’ve found that 16 minutes leads to a more chewy and slightly firm pork belly whereas about 22 minutes will lead to a fall-apart tender pork. I like a bit more chew particularly with the garlic sauce and so the 16-18 minute range works well for me but others have preferred the 20-22 minute mark. To each their own!
On the Stove: For the longest time, I’ve boiled the pork very easily over the stove. On medium to medium high heat, add in all the boiling ingredients (except the pork) and water into a medium sized pot and bring to a boil. Once boiling, add in the pork and continue to boil for 15 minutes on about medium heat with the lid off. This helps to allow for any of the meaty odors to evaporate away. Then, bring the pot to a simmer on medium-low heat and close the lid. Continue to simmer for about 40-50 minutes until the pork reaches the desired tenderness. Take out the pork and let it cool just slightly.
*Note: If you poke the side of the pork slightly, you can feel for the tenderness. The meat will also continue to cook a bit once you take out the pork.
Instant Pot Korean Pork Belly (Bossam) with Garlic Sauce
- 2.2 lbs 1 kg of whole strips of pork belly
- 1.5 Tbsp doenjang Korean soy bean paste
- 1 small onion cut in half
- 1 green onion scallion, chopped into large pieces
- 2 bay leaves
- ½ Tbsp whole black peppercorn
- 6 whole garlic cloves
- ¼ cup (4 Tbsp) mirin
- ½ apple optional
- 5 cups water or until the pork belly is fully emerged in the water - depending on the instant pot size, may need up to 6-7 cups of water
- 5 Tbsp minced garlic
- 1 ½ Tbsp honey
- 2 tsp lemon
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- Sprinkle of salt
Optional: Super Simple Korean ssamjang - dipping sauce
- 1 Tbsp gochujang
- 2 Tbsp doenjang soy bean paste
- 1 Tbsp minced garlic
- 1 Tbsp sesame oil
- Bowls of warm rice
- Spicy Radish Salad
- Place the pork and all of the brine ingredients into the instant pot. Add in about 5 cups water or until the pork belly is fully emerged in the water (depending on the instant pot size, may need up to 6-7 cups of water). Mix around and make sure the doenjang is fully dissolved in the water.
- Time on Instant Pot:
For a bit of chew: I like a bit more chew particularly with the garlic sauce and so the 16-18 minute range works well for me.
For super soft: Other blogs have preferred the 20-22 minute mark but it almost becomes too soft for me
- Make the garlic sauce: Heat a frypan on medium-low heat with about 1 Tbsp of oil, when warm, toss in the minced garlic and saute until the garlic becomes slightly browned and aromatic. Add in the honey and lemon. Saute for another 1-2 minutes until the honey has been well mixed in with the garlic. Finish with sesame oil and a sprinkle of salt. Saute for one last minute and remove from heat.
- Make the ssamjang: Add all the ingredients into a small bowl and mix well.
- Serve! Cut the pork into a slices and place onto a large plate. Top the pork pieces with garlic sauce. Serve with a bowl of rice and a side dish of spicy radish! Optionally, dip the pork slices into a little bit of ssamjang!