I have this obsession of taking every non-Korean recipe and trying to put a Korean spin on it. When I have a “eureka” moment, the result is published here.

Just a suggestion: Serve this sauce with some grilled Korean barbecue and lettuce or large leafy herb (깻잎 kkaennip/shiso/perilla shown here) for a low-carb lunch or dinner. (Tammy Quackenbush photo)

My current “eureka” moment comes from a recipe by Amy of  Amy’s Cooking Adventures. I took her Spicy Raspberry Sauce and transformed it into a Koreafornian concoction Raspberry Ssamjang. (Thanks to the Secret Recipe Club.)

Ssamjang (쌈장) is a spicy paste made from fermented soybean paste (된장 doenjang), red pepper paste (고추장 gochujang), sesame oil and seasonings such as green onion and garlic. Ssamjang is sold in most Korean grocery stores in small or large green tubs. If you don’t read Korean, just look for the green tubs. 

Ssam is Korean for “wrapping”;  jang, for sauce. So ssamjang is a sauce made for flavoring leaves for wrapping around food.

Ssam show and tell: A kkaennip leaf is smeared with raspberry ssamjang and topped with grilled spicy Korean chicken. (Jeff Quackenbush photo

For barbecued and grilled foods, Koreans will take a piece of or whole leaf of lettuce or a broad-leafed herb such as 깻잎 kkaennip (perilla in English), spread some ssamjang on it, top with meat and rice, and pop it in their mouths like a small bite-sized sushi roll.

This isn’t the first ssamjang I’ve made that excluded the basic doenjang, gochujang and sesame oil combo. In May I developed Peanut Ssamjang. Now, with the Raspberry Ssamjang, I have the makings for a weird peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

The combination of the pectin in the raspberry jam and the cornstarch thickened the sauce nicely, thick, yet spreadable. If you leave out the cornstarch it would still be thick and saucy enough to cling to your lettuce wrap.

Recipe: Raspberry Ssamjang

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Category: Modern Korean, Top Posts, Top Posts - Winter

Servings: 1 cup

Recipe: Raspberry Ssamjang


  • 1 tsp Olive Oil
  • 1 small Jalapeno, seeded and finely chopped
  • 2 Tbsp Onion, finely chopped
  • 1 clove minced Garlic (for more zip, use 5-6 cloves)
  • ½ cup Water
  • 1 tsp Chicken Bouillon
  • 1 cup fresh Raspberries or sugar free Raspberry Jam
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • 1 tsp Cornstarch (optional, if using jam)
  • 4 Tbsp Kkaenip, chopped


  1. Heat the olive oil in a small saucepan. Add the jalapeno, onion, and garlic. Cook until the onion is tender, or five to eight minutes.
  2. Add ½ cup of water to the pan, and whisk in the chicken bouillon. Add the raspberries — I had sugar-free jam on hand – and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 10 minutes to reduce the sauce.
  3. Add salt and pepper. Whisk in the corn starch. Continue to cook until the sauce has thickened.
  4. Remove the pot from heat. Stir in the kkaenip. (The original recipe called for mint, but the flavor of kkaenip is between that of mint and basil.)
  5. Serve with the grilled Korean BBQ of your choice, such as dwaeji bulgogi
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