Today’s recipe is a variation on dipping sauce (ssamjang: 쌈장), using a small apple instead of sugar.

You wouldn’t believe how excited I was when I developed this easy and simple recipe! Around that time I was also starting to write my cookbook, and this apple ssamjang quickly became my regular go-to meal, because it was easy and quick to make, and so healthy and energizing. The small pieces of apple make it fresh and sweet, and cut the saltiness from the doenjang. It also gives it a refreshing crispy texture. I fell in love!

Does the idea of making a chunky dipping sauce sound a little familiar to you? Yes, I think I was inspired by watching women make salsa in Mexico. They always chop the ingredients into little bits with a knife.

I eat apple ssamjang in the traditional Korean ssam style, in wraps of fresh lettuce and greens with multigrain rice. Each wrap is made one at a time, on the spot, with whatever greens you choose. Each wrap should be small enough to eat in one bite. It’s a delicious, light meal in itself. I don’t make apple ssamjang to serve with Korean BBQ, I make regular ssamjang for that.

I ate this apple ssamjang off and on for more than a year as I finished my book, and I loved it so much I included it in the book, too! Ever since then it’s been one of my all time favorites and the recipe I make most often from my cookbook.

Not long after my cookbook was launched, someone left a nice review on Amazon saying how delicious my apple ssamjang recipe is. I felt a real connection with that reviewer: “Oh, she loves what I love!”



  1. Combine the soybean paste, hot pepper paste, apple, garlic,green onions, and toasted sesame oil in a small bowl and mix well.mixing ssamjang
  2. Transfer to a serving bowl and sprinkle with the sesame seeds.
  3. Arrange the greens and herbs in a shallow basket or on a ssamjang

Serve & eat

  1. Hold a lettuce leaf in your palm and add any other greens to it, if using. Scoop a bit of rice on top. Don’t make it too big, the wrap will be one bite’s worth, in total.
  2. Spoon some of the apple ssamjang on top of the rice.make wrap
  3. Fold the lettuce around the rice and sauce, and pop the wrap into your mouth in one bite. ssamjang wrapfold wrapThis dish is best eaten right away, as the ssamjang will separate if left to sit too long.

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  1. MaangchiLove Montreal, Toronto joined 8/19 & has 59 comments

    Yum yum! Thank you, Maangchi :D

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  2. CheeseFudge Washington State joined 10/19 & has 2 comments

    This was so delicious! Wow. The apple makes is so crisp and sweet while the doenjang makes it sour, earthy and pungent. It’s so so so addictive. I had a really hard time when I first tried doenjang and this recipe really helped me grow more accustomed to it. Thank you Maangchi!

  3. I just made this and it was delicious! I think it would be great with grilled pork belly. The apple really freshens it up and adds a great crunch

  4. Rike Europe joined 7/16 & has 1 comment

    I tried this today and it turned out delicious. I left the peel on the apple because it’s healthier and also I’m lazy and it wasn’t noticeable at all.

    I think next time I’ll try substituting the apple with an asian pear. That should be tasty, too.

    • AmyP84 Phoenix, Arizona, USA joined 1/19 & has 2 comments

      I agree with you Rike . I also made this today and didn’t peel the apple and it was delicious! I think the peel adds to the crunch. Also, I was out of green onions so I substituted with garlic chives and that worked just as well. I also decided to leave out the sesame oil to save on calories. Since there are already sesame seeds I don’t think I was missing out on too much flavor. I had wondered if leaving out the oil would mean that that the sauce would end up being too thick, but after letting it stand for about 15 minutes the juice from the apple started to work its way through the sauce and it was perfect. I decided to just mix it in with the white rice I had handy and I ate it with a big bowl a fresh spinach. I would make the pouch in my mouth so to speak. One bite of rice mixed with ssamjang, followed by stuffing a handful of fresh spinach into my mouth. It was quick and easy and it worked, and of course it was delicious! Thank you Maangchi for making eating healthy so delicious!

  5. Hi Maangchi! This looks great! Now I know what I will do with my perilla leaf plants, because I don’t usually grill at home, and I’m not sure I will have enough to make kimchi with.

    My mom used to make cabbage ssam as a meal often, with steamed cabbage, doenjang, and rice. Do you think this will taste good with steamed cabbage as well?

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