Throughout most of my college career, one of my best friend’s was a brassy and bold Korean girl named Nicole. I remember many late-night study sessions at Steak and Shake with our 100 pound backpacks and dressed in our most comfortable pajamas. Those were the days when we consumed gallons of coffee, ate piles of mini French fries, and walked millions of steps to our multitude of classes. Ahh, life was so simple back then.
I have many fond memories of our time together at Grand Valley State University in Michigan. But the most beloved of all was when she introduced me to Korean cuisine via a small restaurant on the other side of town. Each semester we would celebrate the arrival of our financial aid checks by treating ourselves to various noodle dishes, lettuce wraps and kamahi.
This recipe is in honor of my friend Nicole. It is a quick and easy lettuce wrap recipe that was adapted from one I found in a recent article of Cooking Light magazine. It’s a perfect light lunch for two or an interactive appetizer for entertaining.
Korean Beef Lettuce Wraps
1 lb of flank steak, trimmed and thinly sliced
1/3 cup green onions, thinly sliced on a angle
1 Tbl. sugar
¼ cup soy sauce, low-sodium
2 Tbl. garlic, minced
1 tsp. sesame oil
¼ cup vegetable oil
½ red pepper, thinly sliced
½ orange pepper, thinly sliced
1 Tbl. sesame seeds for garnish
1 head of iceberg lettuce, leaves separated for wrapping
In a Zip Lock bag, combine the steak, ¼ cup green onions, sugar, 2 Tbl. soy sauce, garlic, and sesame oil. Massage until well incorporated and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
Preheat a wok, or frying pan with high sides on high. Add 2 Tbl. of vegetable oil and swirl to coat the bottom. Stir-fry the entire contents of the Zip Lock bag mixture for about 2 minutes or until completely cooked through. Set aside, loosely cover with foil and allow the meat to rest.
Reheat the wok over high heat. Add the remaining 2 Tbl. of vegetable oil and final 2 Tbl. of soy sauce and both types of sliced peppers. Stir-fry for 2 minutes or until the peppers are considered “crisp tender”.
To serve, arrange the whole lettuce leaves, meat mixture, and peppers in small piles on a large tray. Garnish the meat mixture with the remaining green onions and sesame seeds. Your guests can use the leaves like a tortilla and fill them with the meat and pepper mixtures.
Authors Note: The most critical step with the recipe is the slice the meat and peppers into very long thin strips. It helps speed the cooking process and makes it easier to eat in the delicate lettuce leaves.