Momofuku Ssäm Sauce Is Going Mainstream
The Momofuku staple is now available on Amazon, but it's not as pungent as the original
David Chang knows his way around a sauce. The chef, Ugly Delicious star, and restaurateur has wielded his power at every iteration of the Momofuku empire, and now he's finally making some of his sauce wizardry available to people who don't live near one of his outposts. In partnership with Kraft Heinz, makers of objectively the best ketchup, Chang's operation rolled out three different Ssäm Sauces to the masses this week. Ssäm sauce is a mixture of the korean chili paste gochujang with "miso, sake, soy sauce, and rice vinegar," per a press release, though Chang gave a version of the sauce to The New York Times that included sherry vinegar and ssamjang, a fermented bean sauce.
The pre-bottled sauce was previously only available at New York City-area Whole Foods or his restaurants. The new launch is targeting a much, much bigger audience—anyone with an Amazon account, to be precise. The new Ssäms, available in original, spicy, and smoky flavors, will be sold through the ecommerce giant for $7.19 per bottle. That's definitely on the pricier side for a condiment, though it's still cheaper than, say, booking a flight to New York City to nab some.
Extra Crispy received some of the sauce before its launch to give it a taste test. We have the good fortune of working directly above a Fuku outpost, where the chicken fingers are quite delicious and Ssäm sauce is available in small cups for takeout. So the team decided to try the new bottled version of Ssäm sauce along with the sauce you can pick up at Fuku.
Spoiler: They didn't taste the same. That's not so much of a surprise: The mechanics of scaling up a sauce operation to something readily available on Amazon necessitate different mechanics than crafting the big batches of sauce found at Fuku. But what was surprising was how much less spcy the bottled Ssäm sauces were than the Fuku condiment in a cup, even though that one wasn't labeled as a particularly spicy blend. If you're aiming for a taste that's close to something served in the Momofuku empire and you want to try one of these, I'd recommend trying the Spicy Ssäm Sauce. The original, though it had a bit of a chili kick, was much milder. To me, the Smoky Ssäm tasted like barbeque sauce more than anything.
Not everyone's interested in that much chili, of course. If Ssäm sauce is really positioning itself as a condiment staple a la ketchup, it makes sense to tone it down. But if you're a big Momofuku fan who wants to come close to the original, it might be more worth your time to whip up a batch of your own Ssäm sauce. After all, you can also buy ssamjang on Amazon.