Open Your Mouth Wide and Eat “SSAM” – It will bring good luck into your life!


Photo taken at Miss Korea BBQ in NYC


What is SSAM ()?

SSAM, literally meaning “wrapped,”  refers to a dish in Korean cuisine in which usually leafy vegetables such as lettuce are used to wrap a piece of Korean Barbecue. It is often accompanied by a condiment known as ssamjang and can also be topped with raw or cooked garlic, onion, green pepper, or banchan (small side dish) such as kimchi. SSAM is usually bite-sized to avoid spilling out the fillings. Simply, it is a delicious combination of a variety of ingredients, and makes for a healthfully nutritious meal.[1]


“SSAM has been part of Korean cuisine since the Three Kingdoms (57 BC – 668 AD) era. Farmers during work hours used to enjoy wraps with the leafy vegetables from their field. Eating SSAM with namul (vegetables side dish) was a tradition on Jeongwal Daeboreum (“Full Moon in January,” January 15 in lunar calendar, one of the 4 major Korean traditional holidays). They believed that opening one’s mouth wide and eating a big wrap was a symbol of luck coming into their household. Even today, some people believe that the big SSAM should be eaten in one bite for good luck.” [2]

Wrap Types (There are many more but I have chosen 7 for you) :

  • Wrapped with lettuce (Sangchu ssam)
  • Wrapped with napa cabbage leaf (Baechu ssam)
  • Wrapped with chwi ssam (Chwinamul ssam)
  • Wrapped with kimchi (Kimchi ssam)
  • Wrapped with perilla leaf (Kkaenip)
  • Wrapped with gim, seaweed (Gim ssam)
  • Wrapped with pumpkin leaf (Hobakip ssam)

Meat Options:

  • Beef (i.g. Galbi)
  • Pork (i.g. Samgyeopsal)
  • Chicken (i.g. Dakgalbi)
  • Duck (i.g. Sengohrigui)
  • Seafood (i.g. Haemulgui)

How to make “SSAM” (please see the picture above):

  1. Have your plate or cleaned hands ready to make the delicious and healthy “SSAM”
  2. Place the leaf on the plate or on your palm (rip it in half it is too big)
  3. Add salt or a dollop of “SSAMJANG” (a special dipping sauce for “SSAM” – a great way to take advantage of beneficial bacteria in fermented soybean past “doenjang” and hot pepper paste “gochujang”
  4. Add a meat on top
  5. Add sliced green/red peppers
  6. Add sliced raw or roasted garlic
  7. Add seasoned scallion and green chili peppers
  8. Add shredded radish
  9. Add kimchi (Korean fermented cabbage)
  10. Ready to make “SSAM?” then close the wrap
  11. Wrap the whole thing into a neat package (about the size of a golf ball)
  12. Eat it in one bite!

Enjoy your “SSAM” that will bring good luck into your life!

*Personal Tip : Try not to make the whole thing too big because then you’re stuck with two messy options: (1) stuffing it in your mouth or (2) biting into the SSAM and spilling its contents