Ssam, literally meaning “wrapped”, refers to a dish in Korean Cuisine in which, usually, leafy vegetables are used to wrap a piece of meat such as pork or other filling. It is often accompanied by a condiment known as ssamjang and can also be topped with raw or cooked garlic, onion, green pepper, or a banchan (small side dish) such as kimchi. Ssam is usually bite-sized to avoid spilling out the fillings.
According to the book of customs, Dongguk Sesigi, ssam was eaten by the women of the Goryeo era who had been taken as maids or ladies of the court to Mongol’s Yuan Dynasty, and by the end of the Joseon era, ssam had become an established seasonal dish. On the day of Daeboreum, the ssam that was eaten on that holiday was called bokssam (복쌈, good fortune ssam).
A similar “Bao’r Fan” is eaten by Chinese. Bao’r Fan takes form of cooked and chopped meat and spices mixed with rice, then wrapped in large lettuce leave.
Ssam is also slowly gaining popularity outside of Korea and is being served at restaurants in New York City and Tokyo.
Various vegetables are used as ingredients such as lettuce, cabbage, bean leaves, and pumpkin leaves, which are used either raw or blanched. Seaweed such as miyeok (sea mustard seaweed) and gim (dried laver) are also used. Ssam can be used to refer to dishes using beef tongue, roe, pork, clams, or sea cucumbers wrapped and cooked in eggs.
- Bossam: with steamed pork, e.g. shoulder and is a popular dish throughout Korea.
- Ssambap is a dish in which rice is included.
By wrap type
- Gim ssam (김쌈), wrapped with gim, 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