Ssamjang aka Ssam Sauce

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!

ssam sauce or ssamjang in white bowl with spoon and ingredients in corners

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. 😀

Doenjang | The Subversive Table

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!

Sssamjang aka Ssam Sauce | The Subversive Table
ssam sauce in a bowl with a spoon, on top of a wooden plate

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!

lettuce wraps and pork belly on platter with bowl of ssam sauce on side
hand holding lettuce wrap, pork belly, green onion, and ssam sauce

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

The sauce that makes Korean BBQ so tasty.  Mix in one bowl and enjoy the flavors of Korean BBQ at home!
Prep Time5 mins
Total Time5 mins
Course: BBQ, Dinner
Cuisine: Korean
Keyword: Ssam Sauce, Ssamjang
Servings: 4
Author: The Subversive Table


  • 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.
    ssam sauce or ssamjang in white bowl with spoon and ingredients in corners
  • 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.  
    lettuce wraps and pork belly on platter with bowl of ssam sauce on side


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

All Recipes, Gochujang, Korean


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