It was around this time 2 years ago that my husband, David, asked me to learn more Asian-inspired dishes. Through my research on Pinterest, and keeping in mind what I can easily find at my grocery store, I found several recipes that we eat regularly these days. One of these is Korean Beef.
David loves Asian flavors and he loves beef, our daughter Holly loves rice, and I love Bibb lettuce (aka Butter lettuce), so this dish is perfect for my family. I find beef to be a rich flavor, and mixing it with the salty soy sauce or tamari, strong sesame oil and garlic, and sweet brown sugar can make it feel a little heavy. This is why I like this recipe because it also includes Rice Wine Vinegar to lift and brighten the flavor of the dish.
I decided to use Jasmine Rice with these Lettuce Wraps to make the recipe stretch a little farther, and to please my rice-loving daughter. I love the silky texture that Jasmine rice provides, too.
And Bibb Lettuce — this must be the world’s softest lettuce. No wonder they call it “Butter Lettuce,” because it’s like “buttah” [insert Mike Myer’s voice here]. You’ll find it in the produce section, in it’s own plastic container, with the root system still attached.
One thing — David is gluten-free (GF) 90% of the time. His restriction doesn’t have to be completely 100% GF. He still allows himself to have some beer and he doesn’t kick up a fuss when I use products like Soy Sauce or Tamari. It may surprise some of you that most soy sauces and tamari contain wheat. Kikkoman, however, makes a GF soy sauce and a GF tamari for those of you who are 100% GF. What’s tamari? It is a sauce, similar to that of soy sauce, that is a little stronger and thicker in consistency. Kikkoman GF Products
Let’s get cooking! First thing, you’ll want to start your rice. Combine 2 cups of water with 1 cup of Jasmine rice in a large sauce pan along with 1 teaspoon of salt. Bring this to a boil, reduce heat to low so the rice can simmer for 15 minutes or until all of the water has been absorbed by the rice. Be mindful of your rice. If you let it boil too long before reducing the heat, you’ll wind up with rice getting stuck to the bottom of your sauce pan and, not to mention, it might still have some crunch.
Next, mix up your soy sauce, brown sugar, rice wine vinegar, garlic, ground ginger, and half of the sesame oil in a measuring cup. You can also add some red pepper flakes for a kick.
Next, brown 1 pound of ground beef in a large skillet in the other half of the sesame oil, along with the white ends of 1 bunch of scallions (reserve the light green and some of the dark for garnishing).
Once the beef is brown, drain off any rendered fat (grease) and pour your soy sauce mixture. Let this simmer for a few minutes so the sauce can reduce.
While the sauce is reducing and flavoring the beef, get your Bibb lettuce set up. Simply pick off the lettuce, piece by piece, and lay them on a platter. I like to use 2 lettuce leaves per wrap. I like big wraps, and I cannot lie.
So to plate, I would advise presenting this meal Family-style, with each item in it’s own bowl or platter so you can assemble one wrap at a time. If you try assembling all of your wraps at the same time, the lettuce will wilt before you can get to your second wrap, much less the third or fourth. If you want, skip the lettuce entirely and eat the beef and rice together in a bowl. And don’t forget your garnish! Remember the light green and some of the dark green parts of the scallions we talked about earlier? Sprinkle those on top of your wraps along with some sesame seeds and enjoy!
Here’s the recipe:
Korean Beef Lettuce Wraps
- 1 head Bibb lettuce
- 1 pound lean ground beef
- ½ cup brown sugar
- ¼ cup soy sauce
- 1 tbsp sesame oil; divided in half
- 3 cloves garlic; minced/grated
- ¼ tsp. ground ginger
- ⅛ tsp. red pepper flakes (optional and to taste)
- 1 bunch green onions; divided between white and green parts
- 3 tbsp rice wine vinegar
- Sesame seeds for garnish (optional)
Whisk in a bowl the brown sugar, soy sauce, ½ tablespoon sesame oil, garlic, ground ginger, rice wine vinegar until blended; set aside.
In a wok or large skillet, brown the ground beef in ½ tablespoon sesame oil.
Add the white part of the green onions to the beef and continue cooking until the beef is done. Drain any rendered fat.
Pour the sauce over the meat and allow it to reduce; about 3-5 minutes.
Serve in lettuce leaves or over rice. Sprinkle remaining green onions over each portion and garnish with sesame seeds. Recipe Credit
Super easy, right? This is a perfect meal for a quick and easy Asian food fix!