I have been on a major Korean food kick, exploring all types of restaurants around LA and also using it as inspiration in my cooking. With summer just starting, I thought it would be perfect to host a beautiful Korean summer party - filled with a braised + shredded lamb ssam. (not to mention tons of apps, drinks, soju and sides to boot).
Ssam is a traditional Korean dish that means “wrapped” otherwise know as some form of meat in lettuce wraps. Normally it’s used with beef, but a braised and shredded lamb works just as amazing - and filled with flavor. We braised the lamb in brown sugar, soy sauce, garlic, gochujang, chili paste, and white wine - low and slow on the stovetop and then in the oven, it becomes so tender and literally falls of the bone. (full recipe below)
For guests wanting different options, we also made juicy + herby lamb burgers. We served the lamb ssam with a bunch of banchan (side dishes) such as marinated cucumbers, pickled daikon, kimchi, spicy radish, fish cakes, sticky rice and lettuce wraps - all sides you would find at a traditional Korean BBQ spot.
We paired the lamb with a homemade ssam sauce and a ginger scallion sauce. The way you make the wraps is by taking a cold, crispy lettuce wraps and stuffing it with rice, the lamb and all your sauces while eating all the sides throughout the meal. So much umami flavor with everything together - it’s something I DREAM of eating.
For apps, we continued on the Korean theme and made kimchi deviled eggs and a sesame seaweed salad. For drinks we made a delicious and refreshing yuzu blueberry lemonade. As you can tell, it was quite a feast.
For the Shredded Braised Lamb Ssam
3 lb American Lamb Board shoulder
1/3rd cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
4 cloves garlic
3 tablespoons gochujang
3 tablespoons fermented soy bean paste
1 tablespoon hot chili paste
3 tablespoons white wine
2 white onions, roughly chopped
1⁄2 cup water
1 asian pear, roughly chopped
salt and pepper to taste
In a deep dutch oven or pot, drizzle vegetable oil and let the pot get hot. Add in your onions and garlic and let it sweat about 5 minutes.
Next add in your lamb shoulder and do a light sear for 10-15 minutes. Add in the rest of your ingredients (besides the liquids): brown sugar, soy sauce, sherry, garlic, gochujang, soy bean paste, hot chili paste and your asian pear. Mix well for 10-15 minutes until everything is incorporated.
Next, add your water and white wine. Adjust with more water if needed to cover the lamb. Add your dutch oven cover on medium for about 1 hr on the stovetop.
In the meantime, preheat your oven to 300 degrees. After 1 hr, remove some liquid from the pot and reserve for basting and add your dutch oven with the lamb and let it braise and roast for about 3-4 hours (depending on size and oven). Check every so often (about 30-45 minutes) and add on more liquid to baste that you reserved.
Remove once the lamb is cooked throughout, charred on the outside skins and flakes off to shred. Serve with all your favorite sides!