Thursday, March 10, 2016

Korean beef lettuce wraps

Theory: If you cut the steak into teensy-weensy pieces, the children will willingly ingest it.

Reality: While child #1 may ingest some of it, she will reject teesny-weensy pieces that are any or all of the following: (1) brown, not pink; (2) too big (AKA teensy, but not teensy weensy); (3) chewy. Child #2 will scarf it all back and ask for more...twice.

This, in my house, is a victory. There were no tears. And everyone ate some or all of their meat. (And Daddy loved it too...)

And I made one - yes one! - dinner. With a slight variation...

These are the kinds of dinners I love. It's fast, fresh, loaded with flavor, and healthy. For the grown-ups and adventurous kids, there's marinated meat and rice wrapped in lettuce with yummy condiments that don't take eons to prep. For the kiddies, there's rice and meat and veg on the side (I did sliced cukes and carrots one night and the corn off the cob when we had leftovers).

The original recipe calls for 4 hanger steaks. This made 2 meals for us and there's a piece leftover in the fridge will will likely find its way onto a salad for my lunch one of these days...


Korean beef lettuce wraps with kimchi puree and ginger scallion (AKA Marinated Hanger steak ssam)
adapted from Momofuku by David Chang

I've made several Korean BBQ recipes like this one. This marinade is by far the easiest. (I have two kids and the main ingredient is apple juice... got that!) If you can't find hanger steaks, try flank or skirt. Didn't think you could rock Momofuku on a weeknight? Guess again...

  • 2 cups apple juice
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce (light soy sauce if you have it)
  • 1/2 yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 6 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 tsp. Asian sesame oil
  • 1 tsp. ground black pepper

  • Ginger scallion sauce
  • 1 cup thinly sliced scallions (white and green parts)
  • 1/4 cup finely minced fresh ginger
  • 2 Tbsp. canola oil
  • 3/4 tsp. soy sauce (light soy sauce if you have it)
  • 1/2 tsp. sherry vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp. Kosher salt, plus more to taste

  • Accompaniments
  • 2 cups sushi rice
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/2 cup kimchi, pureed
  • Bibb lettuce leaves, washed and separated (from about 2 heads)
  • Sssamjang (optional, this can be found in the Korean section of an Asian market)

Cooking Directions
  1. Combine the apple juice, soy sauce, onion, garlic, sesame oil and black pepper in a gallon storage bag. Add the steak and refrigerate overnight.
  2. Make the ginger scallion sauce. Combine all the ingredients in a small dish. Let sit 15 minutes then adjust seasoning if needed.
  3. Prepare a grill for high heat. When the grill is hot, sear the steaks for 2 minutes a side, then monitor until they are medium rare. REmove from the grill and let them rest for a few minutes.
  4. While the grill is heating, cook the rice. Rince the rice in cold water until the water runs clear. Combine rice and water in a pan and bring to a boil. Reduce to a low simmer and cover. Cook until the water is absorbed. Turn off heat and let rest a few minutes. Fluff with a paddle or fork.
  5. To serve, thinly slice the steak. Take a lettuce leaf and put some rice in the leaf. Top with steak and accompaniments and eat it like a taco!

Notes: Ssamjang is a condiment that's a combination of a fermented red pepper paste (gochujang) and bean paste. Sounds completely bizarre but it's really good. You can find it in Asian markets that carry Korean ingredients. For the lettuce, look for hydroponic, mainly because it's easier to wash. I found it at Costco - three heads, no dirt. Can't say the same for my kids after a day playing in the yard... And the kimchi... the cookbook says to make kimchi. I buy it (once had an epic fail in that department...). Look for Napa cabbage kimchi. My fave is from the Asian market, not the ones you find at the likes of Whole Foods...

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