Our Korean Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving Day

We spent many days in November making yummy, seasonal, Thanksgiving-themed meals. Since we sort of get a kick out of breaking tradition and as we both had to work all the days before and after Thanksgiving day, we decided to relish in the peacefulness and quiet of just spending the day together, cooking. We decided to cook something we had never attempted in our kitchen… Korean food! Both Grant and I had only had Korean food a couple of times before moving to Nashville, where we have several good Korean restaurants. Korea House quickly became one of our favorite joints but we still felt we had a limited knowledge of Korean food, often just ordering our couple of favorites over and over (because they are so delicious!). Here’s what we came up with. Keep in mind, this was our first Korean cooking endeavor…

We decided to try the Bo Ssam Pork which was a good choice for Thanksgiving given that it is way easier and cheaper to buy a local pork shoulder from our neighborhood butcher than a turkey. Grant got up super early to start cooking the meat. And then, we relaxed and went for a great walk at the park with Lucille, our hound dog.

Momofuku Bo Ssam
(This is our adapted version, based on the NY Times adapted from “Momofuku,” by David Chang and Peter Meehan.)
Serves 4-6
1 half bone-in pork shoulder (4-5 pounds)
1 cup cane sugar
1 cup kosher salt
5 tablespoons brown sugar

The day before cooking, place the pork in a large, shallow bowl. Mix the cane sugar and 1 cup of the salt together in another bowl, then rub the mixture all over the meat. Cover it with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator overnight. When you’re ready to cook, heat oven to 300. Remove pork from refrigerator and discard any juices. Place the pork in a roasting pan and set in the oven and cook for approximately 6 hours. After the first hour, baste hourly with pan juices. Cook until the pork collapses, and easily falls apart when forked. At this point, you may remove the meat from the oven and allow it to rest for up to an hour. When you are ready to serve, turn oven to 500. In a small bowl, stir together the remaining tablespoon of salt with the brown sugar. Rub this mixture all over the cooked pork. Place in oven for approximately 10 to 15 minutes, or until a dark caramel crust has developed on the meat. Serve hot, place pieces of the pork in a lettuce leaf and then top with side dishes, hot sauce, and the scallion sauce. Each little lettuce bundle can be made differently. Variety is part of the fun with this dish.

Ginger-Scallion Sauce
2½ cups Scallions, thinly sliced, both green and white parts
1″ Fresh Ginger, peeled and finely chopped
¼ cup Grapeseed Oil
1½ tsp Tamari
1 tsp Sherry Vinegar
½ tsp Sea Salt, or to taste

Mix all ingredients together and serve in a bowl.

And this next sauce, we did not make, but plan to next time. Instead, we just used Sriracha as our hot sauce.

Ssam Sauce
2 Tbsp Fermented Bean-and- Chili Paste (Ssamjang, available in many Asian markets, and online)
1 Tbsp Chili Paste (Kochujang, available in many Asian markets, and online)
½ cup Sherry Vinegar
½ cup Grapeseed Oil


About a week and a half earlier, Grant made his first batch of Kimchi. He started making homemade sauerkraut about a year ago but he had never attempted Kimchi. We also bought a pretty straightforward version (as a backup) at the grocery store. It is made in San Francisco. I also picked up a locally made Kimchi at Mitchell Deli that was made from spinach rather than cabbage, just for variety. Here’s Grant’s recipe for his Kimchi.

Big Smokey’s Kimchi
1 head Cabbage, cored and chopped
3 Scallions, chopped (green and white parts)
1 Tbsp Sea Salt
1 Tbsp Srircha
1 tsp Fish Sauce
1 tsp Garlic, minced
1 tsp Ginger, minced

Mix cabbage, scallions, and salt in a large bowl. Massage with your hands for several minutes until the cabbage is reduced and releasing liquid. Mix the remaining ingredients into a small bowl and then add to the cabbage mixture. Smoosh into a jar and put a lid on it. Let sit on the counter 3-5 days, opening jar to release gasses and press down cabbage daily. Taste occasionally and once it is as sour as you like, place the jar in the refrigerator. It will keep for about a month or so…


And we still made sides, only they were more Korean themed such as Kimchi Mashed Potatoes, Green Beans and Shiitakes sauteed with Tamari and Sherry Vinegar, and Korean-style Bean Sprouts.

The Sides

Traditionally, the pork is to be served in (butter) lettuce wraps with a Scallion Sauce.

Sauces & Sides

Pork & Sides

We made different combinations, incorporating our sides with every wrap. It was Thanksgiving after all. Each one was so delicious and really fun to eat.


Then falling back into tradition- but only briefly- we watched The Last Waltz before heading out to a Nashville Predators’ hockey game! Haha. We got free tickets and had a ball.


We are so thankful for all we have and all the many friends and family that are dear to us.


6 thoughts on “Our Korean Thanksgiving

  1. you HAVE to visit us in NYC. we used to live in Korea-town. couple blocks from macy’s and the empire state building. fantastic Korean food. but i know yours was awesome

  2. Pingback: Korean Garlic Ginger Deliciousness (3 Ways) & The Music of Luke Bell | Ladysmokey.com

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