Salmon Ssam Feast

By: The Local Palate
salmon ssam
Excerpted from South of Somewhere © 2023 by Dale Gray. Food & Author photos by Bella Karragiannidis. Reproduced by permission of Simon & Schuster/Simon Element. All rights reserved.

 Hosting a causal event with friends and family and want to spice it up? This Korean-inspired salmon ssam feast from Dale Gray’s South of Somewhere (Simon & Schuster, 2023) pairs flavorful salmon with a build-your-own-adventure element. Gochujang-glazed salmon and a fresh, crunchy apple and cucumber salad fill these lettuce wraps, along with steamed white rice to make them a bit more substantive. Ssam is a Korean term referencing savory fillings wrapped tightly in a bundle of lettuce. The style of eating also encourages sharing with and supporting loved ones. Gray writes that preparing a bite of food for someone you love and respect is a typical Korean tradition. So grab your partner, family member, or friend to share this tasty, heartwarming custom.

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Serves 6

    Everyday Gochujang Sauce
  • ½ cup mild gochujang
  • ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
  • ¼ cup pure maple syrup
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons toasted sesame seeds
  • For the salmon
  • 1 (1½ pound) salmon filet, about 1¼ inches think
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • ¼ cup Everyday Gochujang Sauce
  • For the cucumber apple salad
  • 4 Persian cucumbers, halved and thinly sliced into half-moons
  • ½ cup loosely packed mint leaves
  • 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 large apple
  • For the spicy mayonnaise
  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons Everyday Gochujang Sauce
  • Garnish
  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 large head butter or green leaf lettuce, thinly sliced
  • Cooked rice (optional)

Make the Everyday Gochujang Sauce:

  1. In a glass jar, stir together the gochujang, vinegar, maple syrup, garlic, soy sauce, and sesame seeds until fully incorporated and smooth. Use right away, or cover and refrigerate for up to 5 days.

Cook the salmon:

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line rimmed sheet pan with foil. Place salmon on top. Pat dry with paper towels. Season with salt and pepper.
  2. Using a silicone brush or back of spoon, spread gochujang sauce evenly over top of salmon. Bake until thickest part of salmon reaches 135 degrees on instant-read thermometer, about 15-20 minutes. Remove from oven. Heat broiler.

Make the cucumber apple salad:

  1. In medium bowl, stir together cucumber, mint, vinegar, sugar, and salt. Core, quarter, and thinly slice apple. Stir into bowl. Refrigerate until time to serve.

Make the spicy mayonnaise:

  1. In small bowl, combine mayonnaise with gochujang sauce. Stir to mix well.


  1. Broil salmon until glaze is sticky, about 2 minutes.
  2. On large serving platter, transfer salmon. Garnish with green onions.
  3. Serve alongside spicy mayonnaise, cucumber apple salad, lettuce leaves, and individual bowls of rice, if desired.
  • Excerpted From
    South of Somewhere by Dale Gray (Simon & Schuster/Simon Element). Copyright © 2023.

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