This month I was fortunate to give a presentation during Health and Wellness Week at Marquette University Law School. The focus of the day long event was to inform students, faculty, and staff on the benefits of living a healthy life. The day included screenings for blood pressure, massages, information on acupuncture, and my favorite, cooking demonstrations. When I was first asked if I was willing to present, I somewhat jokingly said ‘Are you kidding me? You know what I cook right? I cook comfort food’.
After thinking about that statement, I instantly thought, that heck yeah, I would do it, and I had just the right thing for busy law school students who were on a strict budget. Lettuce wraps.
I am a huge fan of lettuce wraps for a couple of reasons. One you get to eat with your hands, and two, they are a great replacement for using bread, plus, they are healthy for you on top of that. As I made these lettuce wraps for the fair, I went down a road where I could show the audience that they had choices. I gave them a variety of lettuce cups using standard head lettuce, a boston bibb lettuce, as well as radicchio. I chose chicken as the main protein, as it is affordable, and friendly with most non-vegans. Alongside that, I gave them a choices of a Southwestern wrap which had a corn and black bean salsa with feta cheese, an Asian wrap with noodles, a sauce, and shredded veggies, and the third being a Mediterranean wrap with olives, tomatoes, cucumbers, and a few other goodies. However, as much as I enjoyed watching everyone devour them, I kept thinking about a wrap that I totally love, and that is a Korean Beef Lettuce Wrap.
There is something to be said about this marinade. Maybe it is the sesame oil, or the garlic, but whatever it is, it is a winner every time. Commonly referred to as bulgogi, it is simply beef that is thinly sliced, marinated, and grilled, or in my case, placed under the broiler.
Ingredients for Beef Marinade:
- 1 large shallot, minced
- 3 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 inch of ginger, minced
- 1 tsp chili flakes
- 1/2 cup of soy sauce
- 1 tbsp sesame oil
- 1 tbsp honey
- 1 tsp brown sugar
- 1/4 cup of rice vinegar
- 1 1/3 lb of sirloin beef, cut across the grain, thinly sliced
Reserve about 3 tablespoons of the marinade to be used as a sauce for your lettuce wraps, and place in the refrigerator.
Add your sliced beef to a gallon sized ziplock bag. Add the remaining ingredients to a mixing bowl, and mix until the sugar is completely dissolved. Pour the mixture into the ziploc bag, massage into the beef, and seal, removing as much air as possible. Place the bag in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours, however overnight is always best.
When you are ready, either heat your grill, or your broiler to a high heat. Add the strips of beef, and quickly sear on each side. You will love these as they get some really nice carmelization from the sugar and honey.
For the Lettuce Wraps:
- 1 head of Boston Bibb Lettuce, core sliced off
- Pickled carrots and daikon
- Cooked Asian rice noodles, or a very thin spaghetti noodle
- Diced red onion
- Fresh cilantro sprigs
- English cucumber, cut into thin strips
- Reserved marinade
To make the wrap, take a lettuce cup, and fill it with the noodles, vegetables, and beef. Add a bit of the sauce, and go at it.
The Korean beef is so delicious, that I am not kidding you, that you find yourself just eating the beef! As you can get as creative as you want with lettuce wraps, there is one that shines, and that is the Korean barbecue lettuce wrap. I hope you enjoy.