Anticipation, Korean Ketchup: Ssam sauce, Ginger Scallion Dipping Sauce
I have a new favorite condiment, but don't know what it's called. When I did Korean for our annual January party, I shopped big time at Pal Do, an Asian supermarket on South Tacoma Way. Usually restocking Asian food staples means a trip to Federal Way's 99-Ranch, but the last time Bob and I made the trip the traffic was horrible and the 99-Ranch checkers (really anyone wearing a red "99-Ranch" vest) were not only unhelpful but were just plain mean. I got all sweaty before we went in just thinking about the glares and blank looks I'd receive when I asked for the location of some unknown food.
Soooo, when my party menu meant stocking the shelves with Korean ingredients, we went to Pal Do—the shiny, new, well-organized, supermarket in South Tacoma staffed by cheerful, courteous people who graciously accepted my lack of knowledge. We filled up the cart with fresh shiitakes, ($3.99/lb.), fresh noodles, ($.99/lb), beautiful Asian pears, Chinese long beans, Korean bean paste, and a small bottle of red stuff with these Englsih words: Outgo Vinegared Red Pepper Paste. Whatever it is, we use it everywhere. It's become our new ketchup—slightly sweet, vinegary, spicy, and sticky in a good way. It ramps up plain rice from mundane to extraordinary, it zips up a french fry far better than ketchup does, and when mixed with plain yogurt it becomes a spicy vegetable dip or special sauce for hamburgers or fish tacos. It is completely wrapped in brightly colored plastic, sports jaunty Korean symbols, and comes in a handy, squeeze bottle that fits nicely in the refrigerator door.
For Easter dinner last weekend, we ate our traditional Bo Ssam: romaine lettuce leaves, white rice, and slow-cooked pork butt with lots of that spicy, sticky stuff, ginger chive sauce for dipping, and a side of Ssam sauce. It's probably my current favorite thing—all the better with a crowd. Large pork butts take longer to cook, become more flavorful, and the crispy skin is delish. Besides, the leftovers make fine carnitas tacos—plenty of "porky goodness" as Anthony Bourdain would say. In the real New York/David Chang/Korean world Bo Ssam includes freshly shucked oyster, kimchee, a long list of pickled vegetables, and salads but then I've never been a hard-core traditionalist.
Amazing what you can find on YouTube.
Mix all ingredients together in a medium bowl. Sauce may be kept covered in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. Ginger Scallion Sauce
Mix all ingredients together in a medium bowl. Sauce may be kept covered in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
Ginger Scallion Sauce
Makes about 3 cups
- 1 cup thinly sliced scallions or chives (greens and whites; from 1 to 2 large bunches)
- 1/4 cup finely minced peeled fresh ginger
- 2 Tbs salad oil
- 2 Tbs. sesame oil
- 3 Tbs. soy sauce, preferably usukuchi (light soy sauce), found in Asian markets
- 1 Tbs. sherry vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, or more to taste
Mix together the scallions, ginger, oil, soy, vinegar, and salt in a bowl. Taste and check for salt, adding more if needed. Ginger scallion sauce is best after sitting for 15-20 minutes.