Ssamjang is the sauce that makes Korean BBQ so tasty. Mix in one bowl and make simple grilled meat, rice, and lettuce wraps taste exciting and delicious!
Classic ssamjang (or ssam sauce) is Doengjang-based. Doengjang is a fermented soy bean paste that’s salty, rich, pungent. And completely delicious. Kinda like a souped up Miso paste. There’s really no other taste quite like it. As with all things fermented, it can be quite stinky.
When I lived in NYC, my Halmoni sent along a small jar of Doengjang with my best friend Cathy. Halmoni tightly sealed the jar, wrapped it in several layers of saran wrap, and covered it with a plastic ziplock baggie. Yet when we opened the suitcase, the smell was so strong! We had to air out Cathy’s clothes and they smelled slightly funky all weekend long. That’s Doengjang for you. 😀
If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you may have noticed that I included this recipe in my last post. I thought it would be good to post separately as well. Ssamjang is a classic sauce that stands on its own. It’s surprisingly easy to put together and tastes good with so many things.
What to serve with Ssamjang?
If there’s any leftover, use as dip for cucumbers, tomatoes, and green peppers all week long. Tastes so good with rice and veg this way!
If your ssamjang tastes too salty, remember that it should be strong tasting. You’ll only be using a little bit to season a lettuce wrap filled with rice and grilled meat.
However, there is such a thing as Doengjang that’s too salty. If your Doengjang is old and very well fermented, the taste will be stronger and saltier. The remedy? Add a little more sugar or gochujang to combat the saltiness.
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.
If you absolutely cannot find Doengjang, you can substitute Miso or Red Miso paste. It won’t taste the same but it’s a similar enough approximation.
The sauce that makes Korean BBQ so tasty. Mix in one bowl and make simple grilled meat, rice, and lettuce wraps taste bold and exciting!
- 1/4 cup Doengjang Korean fermented soy bean paste
- 1 Tbsp Gochujang Korean fermented chile paste
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 Tbsp Mirin or rice wine
- 1 Tbsp rice vinegar you can substitute with white vinegar
- 1 tsp sugar
- 2 tsp sesame oil
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.
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!