beef lettuce wraps

This meal is one of our favorite Friday night treats. The inspiration comes from our favorite Korean BBQ place in Atlanta, Hae Woon Dae (scallion sesame salad), our favorite Thai place in Atlanta, Thaicoon – but only on Sundays (chile fish sauce), and our favorite restaurant with Vietnamese influences in Hudson, Food Studio (steak and salt & pepper with lime sauce).

You take a leaf of lettuce, add a bit of rice that tastes like butter without adding any (courtesy of Instapot – we know it’s Instant Pot, but we like this name better for some reason), dip the thinly-sliced, rare pieces of steak into the salt/pepper/lime sauce, spoon on a bit of the chile fish sauce, add some scallion sesame salad, fresh mint and cilantro leaves, maybe some smashed cucumbers, roll it up, and then take a bite. All of these flavors combine into an amazing umami experience in your mouth.

You can use pork, chicken, shrimp, tofu, or any other protein for these wraps, which makes them ok for pretty much any diet. Other beef sections like hangar or flank work too, but skirt seems to be the best.

It’s clear we live in NYC because in the photo there is a computer on our dining room table, which is a bar, doubling as a desk. In keeping in line with my normal posts, it’s not a beautiful shot. Going out on a limb, my husband took lots of pictures, so we’ll share them all with you just for fun. We forgot to get a good one of the cucumbers (which are completely optional to the meal, but delicious) or the salt/pepper/lime slurry.

With 4 ounces of steak per person and half a cup of rice, you are around 400 calories of deliciousness per person. Reisling is a good choice with the wraps, because it can stand up to the heat of the chile fish sauce.

Steak Lettuce Wraps
Serves 2

Butter lettuce (enough leaves for 6-8 wraps)
4 scallions
1 t sesame oil
Kosher salt
1 T Korean pepper flakes
Black pepper, coarsely ground
Juice of 1 lime wedge (enough to make a paste with the salt and pepper)
8 oz skirt steak (can also use flank or hangar steak, or another protein)
1 Thai chile (can also use any hot pepper)
1 T fish sauce
1 t lime juice
1/2 t sugar
1 bunch mint and/or cilantro
1 c dry jasmine rice, cooked to your preference

A day ahead, salt and pepper the steak. Remove from refrigerator half an hour before cooking and pat dry.

Combine the Thai chile, fish sauce, and 1 teaspoon of lime juice and serve immediately or let sit. You can make the chile fish sauce ahead of time and save, or continue to add to the jar each time you make this dish.

Slice the scallions lengthwise (a green onion negi cutter will make this easier – and soak in ice water for 15 minutes. Drain and combine with the sesame oil, sesame seeds (black or regular), and salt to taste.

Heat a cast iron skillet over high heat and cook the steak on one side for 1 1/2 minutes, until seared crisp. Turn and cook for an additional 1 1/2 minutes for a rare steak. All of these times are for our particular stove. The main objective is to sear it, so make sure your pan is screaming hot before dropping in the piece. Don’t hurry the process of heating the pan – let it sit over the flame for at least 2 minutes. The meat should sizzle loudly when it touches the pan.

Combine 1 t salt and 1 t pepper in a small sauce dish, and then add the juice of a lime wedge to create a slurry.

Lay out all of the ingredients (steak, scallion salad, rice, lettuce leaves, mint and cilantro leaves, chile fish sauce, and salt/pepper/lime sauce), combine, and enjoy!

Chinese Smashed Cucumbers

3 Persian cucumbers
1/2 t salt
1/2 t sugar
1/2 t Chinkiang vinegar
2 t light soy sauce
1 T Chinese chile oil
1 T minced garlic

Smack the cucumbers with the side of your knife or another heavy object to break down the fibers so the liquids can penetrate, and then slice. Move to a strainer, add salt, and drain for 20 minutes. Combine the liquids, sugar, and garlic in a bowl, and then add the cucumbers.


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