Ssamjang (Korean Dipping Sauce)


What is ssamjang?  I’m glad you asked ;).  It is a Korean dipping sauce/condiment enjoyed with grilled meat wrapped in various vegetables, such as lettuce or cabbage.  “Ssam” means wrapped and “jang” means thick sauce.  Sure, you can purchase a pre-made one in the Asian grocery store, but you can make it from scratch just as easily.  Not only that, it will taste fresher, and you’ll have the ability to adjust the ratio of ingredients according to your personal preference.  Depending on whether you want to make the paste mild, sweet, salty, or spicy, you can add other ingredients such as honey, soy sauce, red chili pepper, etc.  However, the two “must” ingredients are doenjang (fermented soy bean paste) and gochujang (hot pepper paste).

This month, the Recipe Reduxers were challenged to showcase a recipe using seeds.  Perfect!  I have plenty of them in my freezer at all times, and I like to add them to dishes for extra texture and nutritional benefits.  The Hungryman refers to them as “your squirrel food.”  How cute ;).

The inspiration for this ssamjang recipe with seeds and nuts came easily – we had some bulgogi (Korean marinated beef) that needed a spicy companion.  While ssamjang is normally smooth and tends to be on the spicier side, I chose to turn down the heat a bit and added some roasted sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, walnuts, and almonds for some crunchiness.  So good….


Sunflower seeds are an excellent source of folate and vitamin E.  Pumpkin seeds contain vitamin B, magnesium, zinc, and iron.  Seeds also contain a notable concentration of Tryptophan (one of the essential amino acids, meaning it must be obtained through diet as the body can’t produce it naturally) which helps with serotonin production.  I could go on and on and bore you to tears with how the conversion of tryptophan to serotonin to melatonin occurs in the body (thank you, Food Biochemistry), but basically serotonin helps regulate mood, sleep, and appetite.  Similar to nuts, seeds help boost your energy levels, assist in weight management, and in lowering LDL cholesterol.  I think the Hungryman should eat more of my squirrel food.

The additional ingredients in this recipe are minced onion, garlic, jalapeno, and green onion.


On the left is doenjang and the right, gochujang.  Just look for the distinctive packaging colors when at the store.  (FYI: I’m not encouraging you to purchase the pre-made ssamjang, but in case you were curious, its packaging color is green.)Ssamjang1

First, sauté the onion, green onion, and jalapeño in sesame oil until softened.  Add the seeds, nuts, two jangs, and water.  Mix until well incorporated.  That’s it!Ssamjang2

Rather than using the traditional lettuce, I chose to steam some cabbage (I used savoy as I find its taste milder compared to green cabbage.  Napa cabbage would work well also).   I also enjoy eating ssamjang with sliced cucumbers, zucchini, and other crunchy vegetables.


Yum!  And no, I dare not eat this by the spoonful..It would be wayy too salty!  When you are making the “ssam” just remember that a lil’ goes a LONG way.  Now wrap away! 😉

Ssamjang (Korean Dipping Sauce)
  • ¼ cup chopped green onions
  • 2 jalapeños, seeded and minced
  • ¼ cup minced yellow onion
  • 2 Tablespoon sunflower seeds, toasted
  • 2 Tablespoon pumpkin seeds, toasted
  • 2 Tablespoon walnuts, chopped and toasted
  • 2 Tablespoon almonds, sliced and toasted
  • 2 Tablespoon Doenjang (fermented soy bean paste)
  • 1 Tablespoon Gochujang (hot pepper paste)
  • 2-3 Tablespoon water
  1. Sauté yellow and green onion and garlic until softened, approx. 4-6 min. Add the rest of the ingredients. Adjust water to liking. If thicker paste desired, add less water and vice versa.
  2. Serve with steamed cabbage or other vegetables.

Before you check out what other delicious dishes my fellow Recipe Reduxers have created, I wanted to bring your attention to the new page located at the top right corner under “Resources.”  I’ve been blogging for about a year now and wanted to share with you my experiences (in regards to becoming self-hosted and learning about food photography) as well as to mention the affiliate programs I recently joined.  I’d love it if you could check it out and give me some feedback! 😉

Lovely comments

  1. Diane Balch says

    My son loves Korean food… I will show him this recipe. Thanks for sharing it with us on foodie friday.

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