At the newly opened OddSeoul, brothers Leeto and Leemo Han are making killer Korean ssams (yummy things wrapped in lettuce leaves or rice papers). We asked Leeto to tell us about one of the bar’s most scrumptious versions.
1. Kimchi fried rice
Homemade kimchi is roasted with butter, then wok-fried with jasmine rice, ginger, garlic, and perilla leaf. It comes topped with a fried egg. When the Hans first opened Swish by Han at Wellington and Church, their mom made large batches of kimchi for the restaurant.
“We do it ourselves now, using her recipe, of course,” says Leeto. Whole heads of napa cabbage are brined for four days to start the fermenting process. The leaves are then doused with a mix of Korean dried chili flakes, garlic, vinegar, ground oysters, and rice paste, before being stored in a special fridge in OddSeoul’s basement for about a week.
2. Rice Papers
A pack of dry rice papers comes with a pot of warm water, which is used to soften the paper so it can be fashioned into spring roll–like concoctions. “Back in Philly, we used to go to this restaurant in Chinatown called Vietnam Palace, which was mainly focused on do-it-yourself rolls, using different kinds of meat,” says the Canadian-born, American-bred Leeto. “Lots of Asian food is meant to be enjoyed family style, so a meal like this wouldn’t really work for one person.”
The ssam platter features a trio of sauces: hoisin, sriracha, and sweet Thai. “We could make the sriracha and hoisin ourselves,” says Leeto, “but the flavours are already great and there’s no need to mess around with them. Plus, nothing beats sriracha.” The sweet Thai sauce, however, is tricked out with lemon juice, garlic, and fish sauce to add tartness and balance the sugary flavour.
Shredded daikon, carrots, sweet pickle, bean sprouts, Thai basil, cilantro, and lettuce accompany the meat, so you can mix and match your wraps. “They help give the dish a more rounded Vietnamese flavour,” Leeto explains. Jalapenos and Thai chilies add crunch and heat.
5. Pork Belly
A slab of Ontario pork belly is cured for two days, then roasted in the oven for about six hours, until it’s soft and buttery. It’s sliced to order and grilled over white charcoal (known as binchō-tan, and commonly used at yakitori restaurants), a highly sought-after product made from Japanese oak that gives the meat a slight smokiness.
White tiger prawns are marinated for a day in a sweet-soy kalbi sauce. They’re dipped in garlic oil before being grilled over white charcoal.
OddSeoul, 90 Ossington Ave., @TO_ODDSEOULS.