Korean Barbeque is one of my favorite things to do with friends. From the communal grill in the center of the table to all of the delicious banchan (side dishes), it is a flavor explosion and an overall great night. Plus you can’t forget the soju! But the one thing you’ll see at every Korean BBQ is the famous Ssamjang dipping sauce.
Ssamjang is the most popular Korean BBQ sauce you will find, but it isn’t the only one. However the rich, spicy, umami forward paste pairs perfectly with fatty grilled meats like pork belly. In fact, Korean BBQ pork belly is what I make most often at home and this dipping sauce is never forgotten.
When most people think of Korean food they likely go straight to Kimchi. And while Kimchi is probably the most famous Korean food, in recent years their BBQ has surged in popularity. If you aren’t a fan of pork, you can pair this ssamjang sauce with things like marinated gochujang prawns, or even with grilled tofu!
What Is Ssamjang?
Ssamjang is a dipping sauce most commonly paired with Korean BBQ. It only has a few ingredients but of course every family and restaurant has their own signature style. It can be made with as few as four ingredients, however my recipe has six. I am not sure if my recipe comes from a specific region, but I did learn it from my friend’s mother on a trip to Busan a few years ago.
How To Make Ssamjang
As there are only a few ingredients, it is hard to substitute things and still end up with an traditional ssamjang. However most of these things should be easy to find at your local Asian market or online.
- 1/2 cup Doujang – this is a Korean fermented soybean paste similar to Japanese miso. While I wouldn’t recommend substituting miso, if you must, it can be done. The flavor will be a little different but still delicious.
- 2 tbsp Gochujang – this is a spice paste of gochugaru chili flakes (what is used to make kimchi) along with glutinous rice paste and a few other ingredients. It is pretty iconically Korean so unfortunately there is no viable substitution.
- 5 cloves Garlic – minced
- 1 tbsp Toasted Sesame Oil
- 1 tbsp Honey – or to taste
- Sesame Seeds – to taste
- Spring Onion – chopped, optional, to taste
To make this delicious and authentic ssamjang dipping sauce simply add all the ingredients to a bowl and mix. This recipe is extremely easy to scale up should you be prepping a huge bbq meal for all your friends. If you have any extra it also holds quite well for a few days in an airtight container in the fridge.
Where To Use Ssamjang Dipping Sauce
Use this sauce on a variety of grilled meats and vegetables! Seriously, ssamjang is so versatile you can try it with a bunch of stuff and find what you like best. While it is traditionally served with KBBQ you can of course use it other ways. Here are some of my favorites:
- BBQ like pork belly, short ribs, and bulgogi
- Grilled vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, and more!
- Scallion or Prawn Pancakes
Ssamjang (Korean BBQ Dipping Sauce
- 1/2 cup Doujang this is a Korean fermented soybean paste similar to Japanese miso. While I wouldn't recommend substituting miso if you must, it can be done. The flavor will be a little different but still delicious.
- 2 tbsp Gochujang this is a spice paste of gochugaru chili flakes what is used to make kimchi along with glutinous rice paste and a few other ingredients. It is pretty iconically Korean so unfortunately there is no viable substitution.
- 5 cloves Garlic minced
- 1 tbsp Toasted Sesame Oil
- 1 tbsp Honey or to taste
- Sesame Seeds to taste
- Spring Onion chopped, optional, to taste
- Add all ingredients to a bowl and mix together with a fork or spoon or chopsticks or whatever you feel like. Portion into dipping sauce bowls and serve with your homemade Korean BBQ