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Bibimbap in your mouth - Ssambap
2010-06-28 VIEW: 5531
Ssambap is a nicely shaped mixture of flat leaf of vegetable and a spoonful of rice. A pinch of Ssamjang, sauce seasoned with various ingredients, makes Ssambap a special meal that satisfies one’s appetite even without any other side dishes. Just looking at it refreshes and reinvigorates our body. That is Ssambap.
Ssam (wrap), wrapping a spoonful of rice with a large leaf, was originated from Korea’s seasonal customs that prayed for a good harvest. Korean ancestors believed that eating Ssambap in the shape of a rice-sheaf would bring a rich harvest. In addition, farmers working in the field gathered to share Ssambap for a snack. As such, Ssambap served as the food of harmony and cooperation.
Korean people love Ssambap. Any kind of vegetable leaf can be used to wrap around some rice. It’s all done when you put a spoonful of rice and Ssamjang on any leaf of lettuce, crown daisy, butterbur leaf, perilla leaf, pumpkin leaf, lotus leaf, groundsel, Chinese cabbage, sweet potato leaf, soy bean leaf, chicory, water celery, laver, sea mustard, or kelp, and put it in your mouth.
The best match for Ssambap is boiled barley and rice. Barley is Yin food growing during the winter. Since it has a cold character, it cools down the heat within the body, and is particularly good in the summer. The basic ingredient of Ssambap, a vegetable that has essential nutrients for human health, minerals, vitamins, and fiber. In addition to this, add a meat dish as a source of protein and Ssamjang is full of nutrients to make a balanced meal. Lettuce has less vitamin C than other vegetables, but is rich in carotene and vitamin E. It also has a lot of iron, which is very good for women. One of the contents of lettuce is slumberous thus it is good for those who cannot fall asleep easily because of tropical nights. Perilla leaf is rich in vitamin A and C which beef lacks. Thus, perilla leaf Ssam with beef provides a very good balance in terms of nutrition. In addition, essential oils included in perilla leaves act as a preservative, which will prevent food poisoning when we eat Saengseonhoe (sliced raw fish). Crown daisy warms the stomach and makes our intestines healthy. Thus, it was used as a home medicine for children with measles. When a kid has measles, constipation often accompanies. The thick juice of boiled crown daisy facilitates the work of the intestines and it will hasten the recovery. Since it is an alkaline food with low calories and easy to digest, it is also good for our diet.
The first sensation of Ssambap comes from your hand. Your hand first enjoys the feel of the delicate lettuce, the tough skin of a pumpkin leaf, the fleshy groundsel, and soft butterbur leaf. Next is your mouth. Your mouth feels the delicate bitter taste from groundsel and butterbur leaves. Pumpkin leaf tickles your throat. The best pumpkin leaf for Ssam is that steamed while boiling rice. When you prepare cabbage for Ssam, boil, rinse it with cold water and then drain excess water to bring out its best flavor. Once you bite Ssambap, it gives you pleasant mixture of flavors in your mouth. The salty and delicious flavor of Gangdoenjang (thick soybean paste Jjigae) is covered with the tangy and spicy flavor of a garlic slice, and then followed by the rich flavor of grilled pork loin.
For seasoning of Ssambap, general Ssamjang is good, but special Ssamjang made with animal ingredients such as Ssamjang with freshwater snail, mackerel or fermented herring roe. Mackerel boiled with red pepper and radish or well-fermented Kimchi is another good match for Ssambap.
However, the essence of Ssambap would be Gangdoenjang. Gangdoenjang, made with several spoonfuls of Doenjang (soybean paste), water, green pumpkin, chopped garlic, onion, and very hot chili pepper, is the best and perfect match for Ssambap. Gangdoenjang, which is made with Doenjang, has a very close relationship with spring greens (in Korean, Namul). In particular, it is known that it matches very well with chives with rich fibers because vegetable protein of Doenjang compliments the vegetable. Gangdoenjang used to be used for mixing sauce for rice because thickly boiled Gangdoenjang contains a lot of salt. As Ssambap became common as a restaurant menu, Gandoenjang also became more common. As a matter of fact, Ssam, wrapping meat or rice with vegetables, used to be one popular way to enjoy food from the past. It was not on any special menu at restaurants.
In 2007, Asiana Airlines was awarded the first prize by the International Travel Catering Association for Ssambap. Ssambap has been served in the airplane since 2005. On American and European routes, Ssambap is more popular than other food items. The secret of its popularity is the Ssamjang. Considering the special circumstances of an airplane and travelers, they made special Ssamjang with no unique odor. Ssambap served in the air is served with 12 kinds of vegetables including crown daisy, lettuce, kale, and Bulgogi, captivating the taste buds of citizens around the world, and taking the lead in the globalization of Korean food.