Blackberry Ssamjang

Beef lettuce wraps, or ssam, are the ultimate Korean barbecue party food. Tender, succulent beef and rice are wrapped in lettuce and served with rich, salty-sweet ssamjang dipping sauce. Oregon blackberries are cooked with chile flake and aromatics to make the most fragrant, sticky-sweet blackberry ssamjang imaginable. It’d be great with skinless/boneless chicken thighs, too!

Recipe by Heather Arndt Anderson from the Voodoo and Sauce Blog

oregon berries heather arndt anderson blackberry ssamjang


For the Blackberry Ssamjang

1 Cup frozen Oregon blackberries
1 Tablespoon white onion, grated or finely minced
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
3 Tablespoons honey
1 Tablespoon sesame oil
1” piece of ginger, peeled and grated or finely minced
2 Tablespoons chile flake (preferably Korean)
⅓ Cup doenjang* or red miso

For the Ssam

2 pounds flank steak
2 Tablespoons rice vinegar
1 Tablespoon soy sauce
1 Tablespoon honey

For Serving

3 Cups steamed white rice
2 heads butter lettuce leaves (washed and patted dry)
1½ Cup kimchi
2 Persian cucumbers, julienned
Sesame seeds and sliced scallions for garnish

*Doenjang is a Korean fermented soybean paste similar to miso but more salty and pungent. It’s available in small tubs in Asian grocery stores,and lasts forever.


Step 1
In a small pot over medium-low heat, combine all ssamjang ingredients together EXCEPT for the doenjang (or miso).

Step 2
Simmer for about 10-15 minutes, until the blackberries have broken down completely. Stir in the doenjang and remove from heat. Allow to cool for 15 minutes.

Step 3
Combine the steak with rice vinegar, soy sauce, honey, and ½ cup of the ssamjang. Massage the sauce into the meat and marinate for at least an hour (up to overnight, but pull the meat and marinade out of the fridge for an hour before cooking).

Step 4
Cook the rice while the steak is marinating.

Step 5
Grill the steak over high heat for 4-5 minutes per side, or until an instant-read thermometer reads 135-140°F for medium rare (the best temp for flank steak) or 145-150°F for medium. This cut will become tough if cooked past medium!

Step 6
Allow the steak to rest at room temperature, draped loosely with foil, for 10-15 minutes while you prepare the tray of lettuce and sides for serving.

Step 7
Thinly slice the steak across the grain and serve with the lettuce, rice, kimchi, cucumbers, and Oregon blackberry ssamjang.

Step 8
To eat, take a lettuce leaf and spoon on a little rice and kimchi, layer on sliced steak, and then spoon on the ssamjang. You should be able to eat each wrap in a bite or two. Enjoy!