One of the fond memories of my childhood is having dinner with my family sitting on the outdoor table called “pyoungsang”, a large square low table that stands in the middle of courtyard of the house for people to sit on. It is unique to Korean culture that is easily found in the countryside.
Everyday we had our dinner sitting on this Pyoungsang during the summer season. My mother often prepared this delicious Ssambap (rice wrap with assorted lettuce and leaves) and made the fish topping sauce that goes with it. The blazing summer sun have finally settled down in the evening with a cool breeze and the night stars were popping out here and there in the sky, the moments and the foods of those summer days that we had together as a family still remains dearly in my heart.
Ssambap is a country style Korean food. Just picked from the farm, freshest lettuces and the leaves of all kinds are always available in the country. Many city people go to the Ssambap restaurant to comfort their nostalgic country mouse childhood memories.
Ssambap is very easy to put together. Get a varieties of leafy lettuces, cabbages, perilla leaves, pumpkin leaves, thin sea kelps. Most of them can be eaten fresh and some (cabbage and pumpkin leaves) are steamed.
Serve your Ssambap with multi-grain rice rather than white rice. It just taste better and healthier.
There are many different types of topping sauce you can serve with; meat, fish, tofu, mushroom, or just plain. Today I will show you one of my favorite topping that is very easy and inexpensive to make. The taste? You better try yourself to believe. If you like the rustic Korean flavored dishes like doenjang stew and fish, you will love this. I guarantee.
Get any assorted lettuce and variety of edible leaves you like. I added Perilla leaves and cabbage leaves. Boil cabbage leaves for 4 minutes and drain. Chill with lettuces.
Let’s make the delicious fish topping sauce (Ssamgjang, 쌈장) to go with our wraps.
Who is Mackerel Pike?
He is a cousin of Mr. Mackerel, a blue-backed fish. But Pikes carries a little smaller gene in the family. You can use canned mackerel or tuna if you can’t find him. Drain but reserve 3 tablespoon of the can liquid and set aside.
Oh! He has a Korean name, too. “Kkongchi (꽁치)”
Here are the seasoning team who came all the way from the country of morning calm. Korean chili paste, soybean paste, black pepper, soy sauce, rice wine, sugar, and Korean chili flakes.
That’s it! This sauce it just so good to mix with rice as is.
Place your rice (Mulit-Grain Rice) on any lettuce or leaves, put some topping sauce on top, gather-up, and just SHOVE it into your mouth.
No biting-off, please! This is NOT a time to have the European table manner that you would do at a Michelin starred restaurant.
This is a country Korean food. Time to be a country mouse without the nibbling. …I don’t like seeing people nibbling the food I made.
#1 – Apple stock share going up
#2 – Watching the food entering into my child’s mouth
I hope you experience the same joy I had today.
Ssambap and the fish topping sauce
- assorted leafy lettuces and edible leaves cleaned and some leaves steamed
- cooked multi-grain rice or brown rice to serve
For the topping sauce
- 1 canned mackerel pike or tuna drained but reserving 3 Tbsp liquid
- 1/2 small onion chopped
- 1/3-1/2 zucchini chopped
- 1/2 tablespoon garlic minced
- 1 tablespoon canola oil
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/2 green chili chopped, optional
- 1 green onion chopped, optional
For the seasoning
- 2 tablespoon Korean soybean paste doenjang
- 1 tablespoon Korean chili paste gochujang
- 2 tablespoon Korean chili flakes gochugaroo
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 tablespoon rice wine optional
- dashes of pepper
- Combine all the seasoning ingredients in a small mixing bowl, set aside.
- In a small sauce pan, saute onion and garlic in oil over medium heat until soft. Add the fish, reserved juice, and the water and bring to boil.
- Add the sauce to the pan and stir. Add the zucchini and bring to boil again. Reduce the heat to med-low and simmer for 7-8 minutes or until the mixture thickens a little.
- Add the chili and green onion, if using, and let it cook for another 1-2 minutes.
- Remove from heat and let it cool. It will thicken more as it cools.
- To serve the dish, place 1 tablespoonful of rice in the middle of lettuce, top with the fish topping sauce, about 1/2 Tbsp, and gently bunch the lettuce together and eat in ONE bite!