Ssamjang aka Ssam Sauce

Ssamjang aka Ssam Sauce is the ESSENTIAL condiment that makes Korean BBQ so tasty!

small bowl of ssamjang with green onions and lettuce wraps

If you know the joy that is Korean BBQ, you know that Ssamjang is ESSENTIAL! Garlicky. Salty. Umami-rich. Deeply flavorful. Pungent.

A generous smear on top of lettuce wraps makes KBBQ so delicious. Korean BBQ just isn’t the same without it!

You can buy Ssamjang at the Korean supermarket and be underwhelmed. Or you can mix this simple sauce at home, in 5 minutes, and be completely blown away. Seriously, this recipe is so simple and so tasty!

hands making a lettuce wrap for Korean bbq

What is Ssamjang?

Ssamjang (or Ssam sauce) is a Korean dipping sauce used for Korean BBQ. It’s served at the table alongside lettuce wraps and green onions. At restaurants, ssamjang is served in small, individual bowls for each person.

People dip grilled meat and vegetables into ssamjang. Or scoop and smear onto lettuce wraps topped with green onion and barbecued meats and veggies.

Ssamjang is sometimes served with thin slices of raw garlic and jalapeno. And a generous drizzle of sesame oil on top.

The Doenjang base makes this Korean sauce unique. Doenjang is Korean fermented soybean paste. Salty. Rich. Pungent. And completely delicious.  There’s really no taste quite like it.

small bowl of ssamjang

Where can I find Doenjang?

You can find Doenjang in any Korean supermarket.  Doenjang come in a glass jar or plastic box with reclosable lid.

I’ve also seen Doenjang in Chinese and Asian supermarkets but the selection won’t be as large. Buy a small box/jar and keep in the coldest part of your fridge.

If you absolutely cannot find Doenjang, substitute with Shiro Miso or Red Miso paste.  It won’t taste the same but it’s the closest approximation.

And if you’re looking for other recipes with Doenjang, try Instant Pot Bossam or My North Korean Grandmother’s Pork Belly.

Ssamjang aka Ssam Sauce

The sauce that makes Korean BBQ so tasty. 
Prep Time5 mins
Total Time5 mins
Course: BBQ, condiment, Dinner
Cuisine: Korean
Keyword: Ssam Sauce, Ssamjang
Servings: 2 generous portions
Author: The Subversive Table | Lis Lam

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup Doenjang Korean fermented soy bean paste
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 Tbsp Mirin or rice wine
  • 1 Tbsp sesame oil
  • 2 tsp rice vinegar you can substitute with white vinegar
  • 1 tsp Gochujang Korean fermented chile paste
  • 1 tsp sugar

Instructions

  • Combine all ingredients in a medium sized bowl and mix well.
  • Transfer to a small serving dish and garnish with an additional drizzle of of sesame oil and a sprinkling of sesame seeds. You can also add thin slices of raw garlic and jalapeno, if desired.
    small bowl of ssamjang
  • Serve with Korean BBQ: lettuce wraps, green onions, grilled meat, and rice.  Enjoy!
    hands making a lettuce wrap for Korean bbq

Notes

Make this recipe once and then adjust according to your preference.  Some people like it with more Gochujang, others with more vinegar or more sugar.  Experiment and see what you like best!

What else tastes great with Ssamjang?

Spicy Pork Belly Bulgogi

spicy pork belly bulgogi on dark plate with rice bowl and lettuce on a plate

Easy Beef Bulgogi

Bulgogi with rice and lettuce

Chicken Bulgogi

Chicken Bulgogi | The Subversive Table

Spicy Korean Pork

Spicy Korean Pork, platter
15 minutes, All Recipes, Gochujang, Korean

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