Ssamjang aka Ssam Sauce is the ESSENTIAL dipping sauce that makes Korean BBQ so tasty!
If you know the joy that is Korean BBQ, you know that Ssamjang is ESSENTIAL! Garlicky. Salty. Umami-rich. Deeply flavorful. Addictively delicious!
Korean BBQ just isn’t the same without it!
Although you can buy pre-made samjang at the Korean supermarket, the homemade version is SO much tastier! And it really couldn’t be easier. Mix in one bowl. That’s it!
What is Ssamjang?
Ssamjang is a Korean dipping sauce used for Korean BBQ. It’s served at the table alongside lettuce wraps and green onions and various grilled meats.
Korean Ssamjang is thick and pasty with a rich flavor that’s salty, garlicky, and full of umami flavor!
Typically, it’s served with samgyupsal or Korean fried pork belly. But it tastes good with virtually any grilled meat or vegetables. An essential sauce when eating Korean BBQ!
How to do you eat Ssamjang?
Korean Ssamjang is both a dipping sauce and a condiment. There are several ways to enjoy it.
- Dip vegetables (cucumber, peppers, tomatoes) into ssamjang sauce. Dip grilled meat and grilled vegetables, as well.
- Or, scoop and spread Ssamjang paste onto grilled meat and lettuce wraps. Like ketchup, it goes with everything!
Either way you choose, it’s a MUST for when enjoying Korean BBQ at home!
- Ssamjang is typically served with thin slices of raw garlic and jalapeno. And a small drizzle of sesame oil on top, with a few cranks of black pepper.
- Serve in one communal bowl at the table with a spoon — people can serve themselves, as much as they like.
- Or, serve in small, individual portions for each person. That way, people can dip and scoop as much as they like.
- Doenjang. Korean fermented soybean paste. Salty. Rich. Delicious!.
- Garlic + Green Onion. Aromatics that are essential to both flavor and texture.
- Gochujang. Adds subtle spicy flavor and depth.
- Maesil Cheong. Korean green plum syrup. A little bit of sweetness!
- Sesame Oil. All that nutty fragrance! Plus, makes it smooth and pourable.
- Rice vinegar. A little sharpness from vinegar makes the flavor extra delicious.
- Sesame seeds. Adds a nice texture and nuttiness.
Where can I find Doenjang?
You can find Doenjang in any Korean supermarket, in the same aisle as Gochujang.
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.
What to serve with Ssamjang Sauce:
I always serve this classic Korean dipping sauce when we eat KBBQ at home. A typical meal would include:
- Grilled meat of choice: pork belly, beef, shrimp, etc!
- Grilled veggies: king oyster mushrooms, thickly sliced onions
- Green or red leaf lettuce and/or perilla leaves
- Finely shredded green onion
Additional meat dishes to serve with ssam sauce:
For a party, add these sides:
- Oi Muchim (Korean Cucumber Salad)
- Gamja Salad (Korean Potato Salad)
- Doenjang Jjigae (Soybean Paste Stew)
- Dubu Jorim (Braised Tofu)
Watch How to make Ssamjang:
Ssamjang aka Ssam Sauce
- 1/4 cup Doenjang (Korean fermented soy bean paste)
- 2 cloves garlic (minced)
- 2 green onions (minced)
- 1 green fresno pepper (can be subbed with jalapeno, if you can't find it)
- 2 Tbsp sesame oil
- 1 Tbsp Maesil Cheong (Korean green plum syrup) (can be subbed with 1 tsp sugar or maple syrup)
- 1-2 tsp Gochujang (Korean fermented chile paste, depending on spicy level)
- 1 tsp rice vinegar (white vinegar also works)
- 1 tsp sesame seeds
- jalapeno slices
- (raw) garlic slices
- black pepper
- small drizzle sesame oil
- Combine all ingredients in a medium sized bowl and mix well.
- Transfer to a small serving dish or portion into 4 individual dishes. Garnish with an additional drizzle of sesame oil and a sprinkling of sesame seeds. You can also add thin slices of raw garlic, jalapeno, and black pepper if desired.
- Serve with Korean BBQ: lettuce wraps, green onions, grilled meat, and rice. Enjoy!