Sriracha has certainly had its day in the sun, and we all know Beyonce’s got hot sauce in her bag (swag), but when it comes to ever important condiment news, we’ve been long overdue for the Next Big Thing for some time now (and no, those ketchup slices don’t count). Everything changes with smoky, spicy news from Momofuku: the restaurant group’s beloved Ssäm Sauce is going national.
Since debuting in the very first Momofuku Noodle Bar in 2004, Ssäm Sauce has, much like the restaurant group itself, grown into a miniature empire all of its own. The original incarnation is a sweet, spicy, umami bomb with notes of soy, sake, miso and red-hot Korean gochujang chili paste. Chef David Chang and the Momufuku gang have been serving their signature Ssäm alongside dishes as varied as grilled meats, stir-fried vegetables and fried rice from the jump off.
“The flavors of Ssäm Sauce are part of Momofuku’s DNA. It’s something that we’ve served in the restaurants for 14 years, and it’s crazy to me that it will now be available across the U.S.,” said David Chang, Chef and Founder of Momofuku. “I seriously put Ssäm Sauce on everything so we’re really excited to see how people use it at home, especially now that we have the Spicy and Smoky flavors too.”
Starting this week, three varieties of Ssäm will be sold directly to mouth-watering consumers on Amazon, with Ssäm shelf space in your local grocery store shortly to follow, thanks largely to Kraft Heinz partnership platform Springboard. Sprawling though Momofuku’s 19 restaurants across three different countries may be, the Kraft Heinz partnership was critical for helping to scale the recipe to support nationwide consumption.
So what sort of dishes should you be spiking with Ssäm? The exceptionally versatile original recipe is said to pair well with pizza, burgers, fried chicken and ramen. Try the spicy on sandwiches, roasted veggies, tacos, or doused all over chicken wings. And the smoky makes an excellent BBQ substitute for chicken, and plays well with steaks, onion rings, or atop macaroni and cheese. If that spectrum of foods sounds almost comically far-reaching in its breadth, consider that the official hashtag frequented by Ssäm aficionados is #goodoneverything.
Korean cuisine has been having a slow burn, low key moment for the better part of a decade now. While Momofuku was busy expanding from single, savory NYC noodle haunt to a dozen concepts – Milk Bar crack pie or Fuku fried chicken, anyone? – Korean tacos became a staple of literally hundreds of restaurants and food trucks the world over. Kimchi, too, has entered the public consciousness, perhaps fueled by newfound interest in probiotics and gut health. Korean barbecue? Equally big in recent years. What’s more, Korean food here in the states is generally considered to have emerged “unspoiled,” lacking an equivalent of the Americanized bastardizations of Chinese food like General Tso’s Chicken or Crab Rangoon.
Momofuku and Kraft Heinz are betting the time is right for their Korean hot sauce takeover, and having tasted the stuff for myself, I’m inclined to agree. Better make room in your refrigerator (and bag).