Ssamjang means "sauce for wraps," and this blend of gochujang and doenjang is so perfectly sweet, spicy and salty that one may be inclined to put just about anything into a wrap simply for the sake of dipping it into this Ssamjang. Perhaps most perfectly paired with Korean barbecue, this sauce is wonderfully balanced and finger-licking scrumptious atop grilled meats, vegetables, or rice.
Based in Damyang, South Korea, the Kisoondo family has been making traditional jangs (Korean sauces and pastes) for almost four hundred years. Master Ki Soon-do, the matriarch of the family, helms their operations today. Every aspect of her process is done traditionally and meticulously, using nothing but soybeans, bamboo salt, and spring water. The only other ingredients are time and onggi, the earthenware jugs where the sauces spend years fermenting. In southern Korea, ongii are stout and rounded, whereas northern climates tend to utilize taller, narrow urns that respond more effectively to the cold. Their material is porous enough to regulate moisture and temperature throughout the years, as the large blocks of soybean paste separate, forming both doenjang (soybean paste) and sauces like this one. While the five-year mark represents the minimum age for Kisoondo’s oldest commercially available jang, some ongii carry sauces for much longer, set aside solely for ceremonial circumstances. With such deeply entrenched reverence for the process and the unmatched results it yields, any dish incorporating Master Ki’s jinjang feels ceremonious in its own way.