Ssam refers to a type of Korean meal in which any food (usually meat) is wrapped in some type of edible covering (usually a leafy vegetable).
The most common type of ssam is pork wrapped in leaf lettuce or Korean cabbage and served with a spicy condiment called ssamjang, as well as a variety of toppings like raw or cooked garlic, onion, green pepper or a banchan (small side dish) such as kimchi.
According to the book Dongguk Sesig, ssam was eaten in the Chinese court by women of Goryeo who had been sent as tribute.
Many of these women were returned to Korea and by the end of the Joseon era, ssam had become an established seasonal dish.
For many years, Ssam has been served in Korean BBQ Restaurants outside of Korea, but it’s popularity exploded with the success of David Chang’s Momofuku in New York City.
Ssam is now a primary feature at restaurants in Sydney Australia, London England, New York City, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Seattle in the USA, and Tokyo Japan.
Types of Ssam
Ssam eaten on Daeboreum, is called bokssam (복쌈, good fortune ssam).
Various vegetables are used as ingredients such as lettuce, cabbage, bean leaves, and pumpkin leaves, which may be used raw or blanched.
Other vegetables like thin sliced cucumber or carrot (blanched to soften) may be used as the “wrap”.
Seaweed such as miyeok and kim are also used. Ssam may also be used to refer to various foods wrapped and cooked in eggs.
The version made with steamed pork is commonly known as bossam and is a popular dish throughout Korea.
Ssambap is a dish in which rice is included.
A Few Specific types:
Kim ssam (김쌈), wrapped with kim, seaweed
Sangchu ssam (상추쌈), wrapped with lettuce
Baechu ssam (배추쌈), wrapped with napa cabbage leaf
Kkaenip ssam (깻잎쌈), wrapped with perilla leaf
Chwi ssam (취쌈), wrapped with chwinamul
Hobakip ssam (호박잎쌈), wrapped with pumpkin leaf
Kimchi ssam (김치쌈), wrapped with kimchi
Jeonbok ssam (전복쌈), wrapped with sliced and soaked dried abalone
Muneo ssam (문어쌈), wrapped with sliced octopus
Po’ssam (포쌈), wrapped with seasoned raw beef
Gotgam ssam (곶감쌈), wrapped with dried persimmon
Milssam (밀쌈), wrapped with a thin crepe made from wheat flour
Eossam (어쌈), wrapped with thin fish filet
Oissam , wrapped with thin sliced cucumber