Yakitori Chicken Ssam

Yakitori Ssam

I made this Korean/Japanese hybrid for the WBC championship game a few weeks ago. Yakitori is traditionally a Japanese dish, but these chicken skewers were marinated in a sweet garlicky bulgogi marinade, making them somewhat Korean. While the yakitori would be delicious as an appetizer or with a bowl of hot rice, I took the theme one step further and integrated the grilled chicken into the Korean version of a lettuce wrap.

Yakitori Chicken Ssam

Ssam (pronounced: sahm) literally means “wrapped” in Korean and is a common way to eat grilled meat. The meat is typically grilled at the table and served along with condiments such as ssamjang, raw garlic, chili peppers and plenty of lettuce leaves. Stateside, David Chang has single handedly gentrified this once humble dish at his over-hyped Momofuku Ssam Bar, where the $200 Bo Ssäm is the centerpiece at his East Village eatery.

To be fair, I’ve never eaten the bo ssam there, but the rest of his food has enough salt to disinfect a festering wound large body of water, so shelling out two Ben Franklins is a leap I just haven’t been willing to make. I guess that makes me one of the only people in Manhattan who isn’t an evangelical member of the cult of Chang.

Lettuce, Asian pear and Gochujang for Ssam

If you haven’t noticed by the dearth of raw veggies on this site, I am not a huge salad fan. Don’t get me wrong, I love raw vegetables, but the problem with salad is that it takes some hunting to put all the elements of the salad together on the fork at the same time. Since a ssam is wrapped with the individual components evenly scattered within, each bite is like a perfect little salad. Expanding on this theme, you could do easily do a Caesar Ssam or a Chinese Chicken Ssam.

4 boneless skinless chicken thighs cut into strips

for bulgogi marinade
2 Tbs asian pear grated
2 Tbs soy sauce
1 Tbs sugar
1 Tbs minced scallion
2 cloves garlic grated
1 tsp ginger grated
1/2 tsp sesame oil

to serve
lettuce leaves
shredded asian pear
gochujang (Korean hot sauce) or ssamjang (combo of gochujang and doenjang)

Mix all the marinade ingredients together in a bowl and add the chicken. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or preferably overnight.

Soak your skewers in hot water for 30 minutes. Skewer the strips of chicken lengthwise, so each skewer is roughly the same thickness. Setup a barbecue, or move your oven rack to the top position and turn on the broiler.

Grill the chicken skewers until they are cooked through, rotating at least once.

Serve with lettuce leaves, shredded Asian pear and gochujang. Because they don’t hold together very well, it’s best to have each person roll their own. Just spread some gochujang on a lettuce leaf, lay a few pieces of chicken down, top with some pear, then roll and eat.

  • http://onlinepastrychef.wordpress.com/ Jenni

    Love the addition of the pear in the dressing as well as shredded in the filling. These little guys look fantastic, and I’m going to go out on a limb and just guess that they didn’t cost anywhere near 200 smackaroos to prepare. Am I right?! ;)

  • http://onlinepastrychef.wordpress.com/ Jenni

    Love the addition of the pear in the dressing as well as shredded in the filling. These little guys look fantastic, and I’m going to go out on a limb and just guess that they didn’t cost anywhere near 200 smackaroos to prepare. Am I right?! ;)

  • http://www.mabletan.com/ Mable

    Yum! Yakitori in a vege wrap! How innovative. Definitely will give it a go. Thanks for sharing!

  • http://www.mabletan.com Mable

    Yum! Yakitori in a vege wrap! How innovative. Definitely will give it a go. Thanks for sharing!

  • http://bigboldbeautifulfood.blogspot.com/ Ninette

    How funny. I’m not a huge salad fan either, preferring to get my veggies the way you’ve done it in your post — with meat! Beautiful picture, as always.

  • http://bigboldbeautifulfood.blogspot.com/ Ninette

    How funny. I’m not a huge salad fan either, preferring to get my veggies the way you’ve done it in your post — with meat! Beautiful picture, as always.

  • http://chefholly.typepad.com/holly_hadsell_el_hajji/ Holly

    Now I am confused on what to make for dinner, I have the salmon kamas for the Miso Salmon Soup, but this looks really light and yummy for a hot day like today, hmmm…

  • http://chefholly.typepad.com/holly_hadsell_el_hajji/ Holly

    Now I am confused on what to make for dinner, I have the salmon kamas for the Miso Salmon Soup, but this looks really light and yummy for a hot day like today, hmmm…

  • http://www.deglazeme.blogspot.com/ Christina@DeglazeMe

    I am always in awe of your creativity with your recipes. What a brilliant melding of Korean and Japanese features! I bet it is so tasty.

  • http://www.deglazeme.blogspot.com Christina@DeglazeMe

    I am always in awe of your creativity with your recipes. What a brilliant melding of Korean and Japanese features! I bet it is so tasty.

  • http://savorysweetlife.com/ alice

    Nice. We use to eat these Korean lettuce wraps with bulgogi, rice, and red chili paste. I like the use of Chicken and pear!

  • http://savorysweetlife.com alice

    Nice. We use to eat these Korean lettuce wraps with bulgogi, rice, and red chili paste. I like the use of Chicken and pear!

  • http://kitchensidecar.blogspot.com/ katiek from kitchensidecar

    Swoon….I LOVE BULGOGI. I want that sauce.

  • http://kitchensidecar.blogspot.com katiek from kitchensidecar

    Swoon….I LOVE BULGOGI. I want that sauce.

  • Big Boys Oven

    Truely awesomne, simple and delicious!

  • http:/www.bigboysoven.com Big Boys Oven

    Truely awesomne, simple and delicious!

  • http://www.whatdoiwant2cooktoday.blogspot.com Jan

    WOW – I have to make these!!
    Thanks to you Marc, my order of Gochujang and Tonkatsu sauce and Doenjang….and a few more things is expected to be delivered today!! I can’t wait to get cooking!

  • http://www.whatdoiwant2cooktoday.blogspot.com/ Jan

    WOW – I have to make these!!
    Thanks to you Marc, my order of Gochujang and Tonkatsu sauce and Doenjang….and a few more things is expected to be delivered today!! I can’t wait to get cooking!

  • http://www.everydaycookin.com/ Darius T. Williams

    As always…another good one sir!

  • http://www.everydaycookin.com Darius T. Williams

    As always…another good one sir!

  • http://www.practicallydone.com/ helen

    There’s a street in Tokyo that my boyfriend and I refer to as Yakitori Alley (its name escapes us). What a great place to be. Your skewer reminds me of it.

  • http://www.practicallydone.com helen

    There’s a street in Tokyo that my boyfriend and I refer to as Yakitori Alley (its name escapes us). What a great place to be. Your skewer reminds me of it.

  • http://www.glutenfreegourmand.blogspot.com/ Gina

    Marc, a few posts ago you mentioned that you would have a hard time going gluten-free. I disagree! Most of your recipes fall into the “naturally gluten-free” category. All you would have to do with this recipe is use a wheat-free soy sauce and gochujang sauce and you’d be set. I think both of those are eay to find gluten-free. Not that I’m advocating for you to cut out gluten if you don’t need to – I’m just saying that your blog makes me feel like the GF diet isn’t so strange or difficult. Thanks!

    BTW, I’m with you and Ninette on salads.

  • http://www.glutenfreegourmand.blogspot.com Gina

    Marc, a few posts ago you mentioned that you would have a hard time going gluten-free. I disagree! Most of your recipes fall into the “naturally gluten-free” category. All you would have to do with this recipe is use a wheat-free soy sauce and gochujang sauce and you’d be set. I think both of those are eay to find gluten-free. Not that I’m advocating for you to cut out gluten if you don’t need to – I’m just saying that your blog makes me feel like the GF diet isn’t so strange or difficult. Thanks!

    BTW, I’m with you and Ninette on salads.

  • http://duodishes.wordpress.com/ The Duo Dishes

    That marinade sounds really nice…probably good on pork too! Really loving that.

  • http://duodishes.wordpress.com The Duo Dishes

    That marinade sounds really nice…probably good on pork too! Really loving that.

  • http://rasamalaysia.com/ Rasa Malaysia

    I love yakitori so much, I can eat them everyday. Was having it for lunch yesterday at Gonpachi. :)

    Thanks for explaining the meaning of Ssam, now I know what Momofuku Ssam means. ;)

  • http://rasamalaysia.com Rasa Malaysia

    I love yakitori so much, I can eat them everyday. Was having it for lunch yesterday at Gonpachi. :)

    Thanks for explaining the meaning of Ssam, now I know what Momofuku Ssam means. ;)

  • http://www.hungryandfrozen.blogspot.com/ Laura @ Hungry and Frozen

    Ohhh this sounds really good. Meat wrapped up with lettuce is so good- one of my favourite dishes is beef mince cooked with fish sauce, chilli, lime juice and coriander and wrapped in lettuce leaves. Love hearing about the restaurant politics of New York as well :)

  • http://www.hungryandfrozen.blogspot.com Laura @ Hungry and Frozen

    Ohhh this sounds really good. Meat wrapped up with lettuce is so good- one of my favourite dishes is beef mince cooked with fish sauce, chilli, lime juice and coriander and wrapped in lettuce leaves. Love hearing about the restaurant politics of New York as well :)

  • starrytear

    FINALLY someone that isn’t a part of the David Chang cult. I’m sick of all the over-hype.

  • starrytear

    FINALLY someone that isn’t a part of the David Chang cult. I’m sick of all the over-hype.

  • http://colloquialcookin.canalblog.com/ Colloquial Cook

    After yesterday, I was kind of not hungry, but now I am. Tsk tsk tsk.

  • http://colloquialcookin.canalblog.com/ Colloquial Cook

    After yesterday, I was kind of not hungry, but now I am. Tsk tsk tsk.

  • NYNYEATEAT

    nice recipe, fun take on Ssam. for more substance you could always add some white rice in there, and if sweet’s not your thing some vietnamese pickled cucumber slaw could go well too, but that might be going overboard on the asian crossover thing…!

    cool site and great tips.

  • NYNYEATEAT

    nice recipe, fun take on Ssam. for more substance you could always add some white rice in there, and if sweet’s not your thing some vietnamese pickled cucumber slaw could go well too, but that might be going overboard on the asian crossover thing…!

    cool site and great tips.

  • http://www.kalofagas.ca/ Peter

    Ahh, there’s the Asian pear. I’ve tried it as part of a marinade for kalbi. It’s wonderful how so many cultures have their skewered meats…Vive Japan!

  • http://www.kalofagas.ca Peter

    Ahh, there’s the Asian pear. I’ve tried it as part of a marinade for kalbi. It’s wonderful how so many cultures have their skewered meats…Vive Japan!

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  • Allison Schiltz

    Tried this last night.  Delicious!  My husband and I were practically licking our plates clean, so will double next time. :-)

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I'm Marc, and I want to teach you some basic techniques and give you the confidence and inspiration so that you can cook without recipes too!