What is Ssamjang ?
Ssamjang is not an ingredient on its own but is a sauce to add to Korean lettuce wrap - Ssam. It is a thick paste made with doenjang, gochujang, sesame oil, onions, garlic etc. It can be purchased pre-made, usually found in the soybean paste or gochujang section, or make your own. The perfect condiment for Korean BBQ and lettuce or other green leaves that are wrapped to make 'ssam 쌈'.
You can read more about Ssam in How to Enjoy Ssam with Different Greens post.
Not To Be Confused With
miso, sambal sauce
Where and What To Buy
Korean or Asian grocery store, general grocery stores, online, Amazon.
There are different brands and there's no particular stand-out one in my mind because most of them are all seasoned with a lot of additives including corn syrup. But it is convenient to have it so just try different brands.
I usually buy Sempio or Haechanedeul. Both are similarly yummy. Haechandeul is a bit spicier which you may or may not like. Sempio also says NO MSG which I like.
Some brands will say the ssamjang is specifically for Meat BBQs (고기전용 쌈장 Gogi Jeongyong Ssamjang) which I find is mostly a marketing thing because I don't find it much different or better tasting. A spicier one like the Haechandeul will work nicely with fatty meats.
Also, if you'd like, you can just add some chopped green chili peppers or Jalapenos to the ssamjang and it will add great fresh kick to it!
How to Use/Cook
You can follow my Ssamjang recipe below but in short, it's a mixture of Doenjang, Gochujang, Sesame Oil, Garlic, Green Onion, sugar or measil syrup, sesame seeds and crumbled tofu or mayo to lighten up the sauce. You can also add chopped green chilis for extra zing.
How to Clean/Store
Unopened, pre-made Ssamjang does not need to be refrigerated, but it should be kept in a cool place. Opened or self-made ssamjang will stay fresh in the refrigerator for months.
Ssamjang is made with both doenjang and gochujang, so it shares the benefits of fermentation from both of these pastes. It provides Iron, Vitamin A and Vitamin C, promotes digestive health, and can help fight off illness due to the ingredients (garlic, onion etc) that are rich in antioxidants.
Ssamjang is high in sodium however, so it is important to eat in small amounts.
- some ssamjang may have MSG
- can also contain corn syrup