Korean Style BBQ Lettuce Wraps

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

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I love Korean food, especially kimchee, as I love both spicy food and anything pickled. I also like Korean barbecue. If you order Korean barbecue at a restaurant, you may have the chance to cook the meat yourself over a hot plate right on the table, which is a lot of fun.

I've tried to recreate this process in my kitchen. Some of the recipes I have seen call for throwing a whole steak on a grill, and then cutting it into slices once it is done. I live in an apartment so I don't own a grill, and if you grill an entire steak, the resulting meat slices will not be cooked evenly. I usually chop up the meat into thin slices with the knife held at an angle, and marinate it for about half an hour.

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I then saute the meat on high heat in a non-stick pan. I cook the meat in small batches, flipping each slice with tongs, for a minute or two per side (just until browned).

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Cooking it in small batches in a pan will prevent the meat from stewing in its own juices. The juices should be drained from the pan before the next batch. Once the meat is done, it is mixed together with raw vegetables, cut into matchsticks.

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I love the texture the raw vegetables provide combined with the meat. You can use what you have on hand: carrot, onion, cucumber, celery, sugar snap peas, bell or poblano peppers (even jalapeno or serrano if you're a spicy fiend like me). Toss them together with meat and sauce.

Adapted from: Eating Well, June/July 2005

Korean Style BBQ Lettuce Wraps
(serves 4)

You will need:
4 oz soy sauce
4 tbsp and 1 tsp brown sugar
4 tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice (about 2 limes)
2 tsp chili garlic sauce (or to taste)
1 lb steak (such as London broil or flank)
1 cup sugar snap peas, thinly sliced length-wise
1 medium carrot, peeled and julienned (cut into matchsticks)
½ English cucumber, peeled and julienned
1/4 medium red onion, julienned
2 tsp cilantro, finely chopped
1 tbsp canola oil
Leaves of Boston lettuce

Directions:
1. Whisk soy sauce, brown sugar, lime juice and chili garlic sauce in a measuring cup, until combined.

2. Slice steak into thin slices, against the grain (hint: hold knife at a low angle, away from yourself or your hand; slices should be about 1/4 to 1/8 inch thick). Place sliced steak into a medium bowl and pour ½ of the soy sauce mixture into the bowl and mix well. Cover marinated steak and refrigerate for half an hour to up to two hours. Refrigerate the remaining soy sauce mixture. As the steak marinates, prepare your vegetables and place them into a large bowl.

3.  Heat canola oil in a pan on medium high heat. With tongs, sauté the meat slices in small batches, until browned on both sides, about 2 to 3 minutes total. Once all of the meat is done, combine it with the vegetables in the large bowl. Add cilantro. Pour the remaining soy sauce mixture and mix well. Place a small portion on individual lettuce leaves and serve. As an option, add cooked jasmine rice on the side to make it a meal.

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