Have you ever heard of Ssamjang? Ssamjang is a spicy, sweet fermented chili paste used throughout Korean cuisine.
Not sure how to use it or worried it wouldn’t be available? Don’t fret.
You can cook and use ssamjang in many dishes, such as soups, stews, and marinades for meats.
If you cannot find ssamjang in your local market, there are several substitutes that offer similar flavors, such as Doenjang, Gochujang, Miso paste, and more.
Check out the top 5 substitutes for ssamjang so you can enjoy the famous Asian cuisine.
What is Ssamjang?
Ssamjang is a spicy and savory Korean condiment with a complex flavor profile.
It is made primarily from gochujang (Korean hot pepper paste) blended with doenjang (soybean paste).
To this base, sesame oil, garlic, scallions, and other ingredients are added to further enrich its full-bodied taste.
It has a thick texture and packs a fair amount of heat in the mouth when eaten.
Traditionally, it is used as a dipping sauce for fresh vegetables or grilled meats known as ‘ssam’ (wraps).
Additionally, ssamjang can be used as an ingredient in marinades or can be drizzled over steamed tofu to add complex flavors.
All in all, ssamjang is the perfect accompaniment to the traditional Korean meal.
The 5 Best Substitutes for Ssamjang
If you’re a fan of Korean cuisine, you probably use ssamjang regularly in your dishes.
But what do you do when you don’t have any on hand? Never fear – there are plenty of substitutes that can help fill the void.
Here are five of the best:
1 – Gochujang
Gochujang, a beloved Korean condiment, is an ingredient that can take any dish to the next level.
It is made with red chili peppers and fermented soybeans.
Depending on the brand, other ingredients might include glutinous rice powder, salt, and sweeteners such as honey or syrup.
Gochujang has a mouth-watering mixture of spicy and savory flavors with a pleasant thickness in texture.
It pairs well with many dishes like Korean Barbecue, stews, marinades, and soups.
To prepare Ssamjang, combine one part Gochujang with two parts Doenjang (Korean miso paste) which can be used as a flavorful addition to any wrap or ‘Lettuce wrap’ dish.
You can find gochujang in any Asian grocery store or online – try it today.
2 – Doenjang
Doenjang, a salty and savory fermented soybean paste, is a key staple of Korean cuisine.
The thick paste consists of fermented and mashed soybeans with a hint of grain, usually rice or barley.
Doenjang has an umami taste and chewy texture, much like miso paste in Japanese cooking.
It’s versatilely used in everyday meals such as soups, stews, stir-fries, marinades, and sauces.
Unlike Ssamjang, which is sweeter due to the addition of sweetness-enhancing ingredients such as pureed fruits or juice, Doenjang remains the same no matter what you add to it.
Use it as is for soup or stir fry recipes or substitute for Ssamjang for deeper flavor profiles that can last for days.
3 – Sambal Oelek
Sambal oelek is an essential condiment in Southeast Asian cuisine.
It’s made with a simple blend of fresh chili peppers, salt, and vinegar, that comes together to form a unique flavor.
With its spicy yet pungent taste, this condiment is widely used to add a touch of heat and depth to recipes.
Its coarse texture also helps to provide a little crunchiness with each bite.
Sambal oelek can be used as either a dip or an ingredient; it makes the perfect partner for dishes like seafood, noodles, and stir-fried vegetables.
As an alternative to ssamjang – a Korean condiment similar in flavors – it has the same kick without any sweetness that ssamjang contains.
When using sambal oelek, you should add cautiously due to its spiciness, as one small teaspoon goes a long way.
4 – Chili Garlic Paste with Sesame Oil
Chili garlic paste with sesame oil is a dynamic condiment that can be used to enhance almost any meal.
This combination of ingredients creates a richly-flavored, umami-packed condiment that can lend an exciting flavor boost to all manner of dishes.
Chili garlic paste includes chili peppers, garlic, salt, and a few other simple ingredients for added complexity.
The addition of sesame oil adds yet another layer of flavor, exuding a fragrant earthiness when cooked.
Together, this combination packs an impressive punch that is sharp and slightly sweet but mellowed out by the nuttiness and light bite from the sesame oil.
Whether spread over noodles or dolloped on meats, chili garlic paste, and sesame oil will add vibrancy to any dish.
And fortunately, it’s incredibly versatile and easy to substitute for Korean Ssamjang in recipes.
5 – Miso Paste with Sesame Oil
With its distinct, umami-filled flavor, perfectly balanced between sweet, salty, and savory notes, miso paste with sesame oil may just be your next go-to condiment.
It has a smooth and creamy texture, making it a versatile addition to many dishes.
Try adding it to soup bases or sauces for an intense hum of flavor, or brush some on fish and other meats before grilling them up.
While similar in flavor to the Korean condiment Ssamjang, you can easily substitute miso paste with sesame oil instead when needed without sacrificing any of the delightful tastes associated with this condiment.
In conclusion, if you’re looking for a suitable alternative to the popular Korean condiment Ssamjang, these five recipes have got you covered.
From Doenjang and Sambal Oelek to chili garlic paste with sesame oil and miso paste with sesame oil, each of these condiments can bring its own unique flavors and textures to any dish.
Whether you’re looking for a spicy kick, a savory umami taste, or even something mildly sweet, these condiments can provide the perfect addition to your meals.