Sunday, April 27, 2014

Do-It-Yourself Korean BBQ Lettuce Wraps...

BBQ is usually the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Korean cuisine, especially BBQ beef.

In the recent years, I have become a Korean food fanatic, and there was a time when our household had Korean food almost two weeks straight. I refer to a couple of trusted resources for recipes, tips and guidance- two fantastic comprehensive Korean cookbooks namely, "Eating Korean" by Cecilia Hae-Jin Lee and "Growing Up in a Korean Kitchen" by Hi Soo Shin Hepinstall, and when in doubt I always turn to Maangchi to view the step-by-step cooking videos on her popular web-site

The weekend is always a great time to cook more elaborately and eat more festively. My husband was out playing hockey with the twins and they each worked up a huge appetite. They were super pleased to come home to a spread of different Korean dishes for dinner. In this post, I will share with you how to prepare the BBQ, ingredients and condiments to make your own lettuce wraps, and other recipes from the meal will follow in subsequent posts.

I don't use fancy grills or equipment you see in the restaurants to BBQ my meats. Since it's unsafe to have a table-top BBQ to grill and eat as you go with my young kids, I just do it on a grill pan over the stove and serve it immediately. Here are the things I prepare for a nice BBQ wrap dinner. There are four components:

1) Prepare an onion salad, garlic and jalapeno/Korean green pepper slices for vegetables;
2) Prepare two condiments for dressing and dipping the wraps;
3) Prepare lettuce leaves to encase the meat and vegetable fillings;
4) BBQ the meats.

1) Cut two onions into 2-inch pieces. Slice into slivers. Slice two green lettuce leaves into shreds and mix them in a medium bowl with the onions. Prepare the dressing with 2 Tbsp. each light soy sauce and rice vinegar. Add a squirt of lemon juice, 2 tsp. sesame oil, 1/2 tsp. each toasted sesame seeds and Korean red pepper flakes; mix and store in fridge until ready to use.

TIP: Dress the onion salad just before serving or the salad will wilt.

2) Prepare condiments: 1. Seasoned bean paste mixed with a little water to soften; 2. Sesame oil dip for each person. Use 1/2 tsp. kosher salt and 1/4 tsp. ground black pepper for 2 Tbsp. sesame oil.

3) Red leaf lettuce is very popular to use for wrapping, and Korean stores even sell the leaves individually separated. Perilla leaves (sesame leaves) are another favourite to use as a wrapper and adds a grassy licorice taste. I used a few Korean green peppers as they are much milder than jalapenos and sliced them along with garlic cloves.

4)  I picked up some fresh Angus beef flap tail which is an under blade centre cut that is highly marbled and tender. Unfortunately the plastic had a small hole and by the next day some slices darkened due to oxidation but they were fine. I seasoned both sides with kosher salt and ground black pepper. I pour 1/2 cup of Korean BBQ beef marinating sauce into a bowl and take out a pastry brush. TIP: Brush on the sauce at the last minute of grilling or it will burn due to the high sugar content.

Grill on hot grill pan with a little oil on high heat for one to two minutes.

Flip meats over and grill for another two minutes; meanwhile brushing tops with sauce.
Flip meats over again, basting this side and grilling one minute more on both sides.

Serve with various panchans (Korean side dishes) with the lettuce and perilla leaves ,and fixings at the table with the condiments for everyone to serve their own. I cut the beef up into four pieces for easier wrapping. 

Take a red lettuce leaf, add a perilla leaf on top, place a piece of beef in the centre, spread with bean paste, top with dressed onion salad, pepper and garlic slices and enjoy with a dip into the seasoned sesame oil. Nom nom!

Try grilled Japanese shishito peppers (mild slender mini peppers with a distinct peppery taste)-- something "new" and interesting as a topping in the lettuce wraps. 

If you like Korean BBQ, you will also like grilling pork bellyStir-Fried Pork Belly with Kimchi and Spicy Pork and Peppers Stir-Fry a try using them in wraps too. For more on Korean cuisine, check out my Korean food blow-out on our family favourites! Something here for everyone!

Stir-Fried Pork Belly with Kimchi

Spicy Pork with Peppers Stir-Fry


  1. I can't wait to eat Korean tonight also!! I'll have to remember to buy some jalapeno peppers, these photos are making me hungry!

  2. a swift stir and everything combined to make a colourful and clean tasting side dish. Food Truck Wedding Catering