Ssamjang aka Ssam Sauce is the condiment that makes Korean BBQ so tasty. Mix in one bowl and enjoy the taste of Korean BBQ at home!
When I lived in NYC, my best friend decided to visit. My Halmoni, being a good Korean grandmother, asked if she could send along a small jar of Doengjang with Cathy. Cathy was hesitant. Doenjang is Korean fermented soy bean paste and notoriously stinky. But Halmoni promised to seal it tight. She wrapped a small jar in several layers of saran wrap and covered it with two plastic ziplock baggies.
Not surprisingly, when we opened Cathy’s suitcase, the smell was overpowering!! We aired out Cathy’s clothes as best we could but they smelled slightly funky all weekend long. That’s Doengjang for you. Stinky to the last drop. 😀
What is Ssamjang or Ssam Sauce?
Classic Ssamjang (or Ssam sauce) is Doengjang based. That’s why Ssam Sauce is salty, rich, pungent, and stinky. And completely delicious. There’s really no other taste quite like it.
Most Korean BBQ restaurants serve two sauces: Gochujang Sauce (also known as Bibimbap sauce) which is red, spicy, and somewhat runny. And Ssam Sauce, the umami-rich, garlicky sauce that’s got slices of raw garlic and jalapenos served alongside it. Ssam sauce is ESSENTIAL to Korean BBQ. You really can’t eat Korean BBQ without it!
Ssam sauce is also surprisingly easy to make! The hardest part will be finding the ingredients. Once you’ve made a trip to a Korean grocery store, just measure the ingredients in one bowl and mix. Now you’re ready for Korean BBQ!
Where to find Doengjang?
You can find Doengjang in any Korean supermarket. I’ve also seen Doengjang 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 Doengjang, you can substitute Miso or Red Miso paste. It won’t taste the same but it’s the closest approximation I can think of.
Ssamjang aka Ssam Sauce
- 1/4 cup Doengjang 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
- 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, if desired.
- Serve with lettuce wraps, green onions, grilled meat, and rice.