What is Ssam in Korean BBQ?

What is 'Ssam' in Korean BBQ?

During a Korean BBQ meal, you might hear the term 'Ssam', which in Korean means 'wrap'. In KBBQ, it specifically refers to a way of enjoying cooked meats wrapped in leafy green vegetables, thin rice cakes, or seasoned daikon radish slices. This blog post will explore the various leafy greens commonly used for Ssam and how they enhance the KBBQ experience.


Most Commonly Used Leafy Greens for Ssam

What is Ssam in Korean BBQ?

Red Mustard, Green Leaf Lettuce, Red Leaf Lettuce, Perilla

Red Mustard Leaf - Known for its peppery flavor, adding a bold taste to the wrapped meat. Its deep red hues also provides a colorful accent on the plate.

Green Leaf Lettuce - Enjoyed for its soft texture and subtle sweetness, making it a versatile wrapper that doesn't overshadow the flavor of the meat.

Red Leaf Lettuce - Similar to green leaf lettuce but with a hint of bitterness. 

Perilla Leaf - Distinctive for its herby and slightly anise-like flavor. The perilla leaf is a traditional choice that imparts a unique taste that leaves a memorable impression.


Additional Leafy Greens for Ssam

What is Ssam in Korean BBQ?

Modern additions to Ssam

While the above are traditional, modern Ssam sometimes includes Collard Greens, Chicory, Kale, and Beet Leaves. The key is choosing leaves that are tender enough to wrap and that harmonize with the filling.


Other Wraps Used for Ssam

Beyond the fresh crispness of leafy greens, Korean BBQ Ssam also embraces the delicate texture of paper-thin rice cakes and the subtly sweet, tender slices of seasoned daikon radish. These rice cakes, known as "Ddeok," are whisper-thin and offer a chewy contrast to the savory meats. The thinly sliced daikon, usually seasoned with a sweet and tangy base, provides a refreshing crunch and a balance to the rich flavors. Both are commonly found alternatives to traditional greens that cater to the desire for varied textures and tastes.

Colorful rice cake slices and seasoned daikon slices


What Goes in a Ssam?

Typically, grilled meats are nestled in one or more leafy greens, sometimes accompanied by garnishes and sauces. It's not unusual to see a combination of greens for added flavor and texture.

What is Ssam in Korean BBQ?

Doubling up on leafy greens is a common sight!


Here are additional tasty variations of Ssam to try!

 What is Ssam in Korean BBQ?

Two types of meat enjoyed in a single lettuce wrap


What is Ssam in Korean BBQ?

Ssam with raw garlic, seasoned green onions and Ssamjang sauce


Ssam with Rice

Ssam with rice and Ssamjang sauce


Ssam with Kimchi

Ssam with Kimchi


In future blog posts, we'll dive into the variety of garnishes, sauces, and dips that elevate the KBBQ Ssam. Stay tuned as we unwrap the delicious details of KBBQ Ssam in upcoming entries.

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