Ssamjang is a staple in Korean cooking, and is traditionally used as a sauce in wraps. It packs amazing flavors, is simple to make, and can be made in advance and stored and used when you want to add incredible flavor to just about anything.

For more informed perspectives on Ssamjang, see these posts:

I like to have ssamjang on hand to add to use on just about everything. I’ve used it with dishes ranging from bulgogi beef to tofu with veggies over rice to grilled chicken. It adds incredible flavor, which is never a bad thing — especially on a busy workday when your lunch might otherwise feel mundane.

When I make ssamjang, I stick most closely to the steps described in this recipe.

  • 2 tablespoons doenjang
  • 1 tablespoon gochujang
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon sesame seeds (toast them beforehand to bring out flavor)
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped onion (I generally go a little heavier on the garlic and onion)
  • honey (add until it has the right balance between sweet and salty)
  • mirin or unseasoned rice wine – add to adjust consistency, and until the acidity level is your preferred balance of salty, sweet, and acidic.

Start with 1 tablespoon each of honey and mirin/unseasoned rice wine vinegar and adjust to taste.

To start, mince garlic and onion.

Diced onions and garlic
Diced onions and garlic

In a dry saucepan, toast the sesame seeds on medium high heat until they turn golden brown and you can smell the scent of the seeds. This takes between 1-2 minutes, depending on the heat of your pan and how frequently you stir the seeds.

Put the seeds in a bowl, return the pan to the heat, and add canola oil. I recommend putting the seeds in a large bowl that you will use to mix the rest of the ssamjang.

Saute the onions until they begin to caramelize. Add garlic to the onions, and cook until the garlic also begins to brown.

Add the garlic and onions to the sesame seeds.

Add the doenjang, gochujang, sesame oil, honey, and mirin to the garlic, onions, and sesame seeds.

Ssamjang sauce ingredients, ready for mixing
Ssamjang sauce ingredients, ready for mixing

Mix the ingredients. Adjust levels of honey and mirin/seasoned rice wine vinegar to match your preferred taste.