Sunday, September 13, 2009

The Beef Chronicles: Sesame Beef Lettuce Wraps

An introduction to these Beef Chronicles

When it comes to Asian cuisine, I'm the first to admit I'm a terrible hack.

I don't know when to use sriracha or shichimi and mix up udon and soba half the time. My versions of classics such as Pad Thai or Sweet & Sour Soup are butchered because I tend to toss in whatever is wilting in the fridge instead of following a recipe.

Sure I've been to Thailand and Indonesia, but that doesn't account for much--certainly didn't instill an instinctive Asian touch to my cooking. On the contrary, it fostered such a fondness for coconut milk and lemongrass, that many a promising Chinese or Japanese dish has been ruined by the addition of a can of coconut milk. Obviously I need help.

I either need to get my hands on a really good, all-inclusive Asian cookbook or take some classes. Marrying into an Asian family is no longer an option, unfortunately. Maybe I should have considered those marriage proposals a little more seriously back in my wild and free backpacking days.

With that disclaimer, I can now bring you today's new recipe in the Beef Chronicles: Sesame Beef Lettuce Wraps.
I'm not sure if they are Korean or Vietnamese, but I do know that they were baaaad--in the good sense of the word, of course.

Here's why we can't get enough of them:

Self. Assembly. I just don't have time these days to roll sushi or spring rolls. Ingredients go in the middle of the table and everyone helps themselves.

Fresh, Fresh, very Fresh. Simply LOVE lettuce as a wrapper for these crunchy bites. As much as I'm fond of bread and its many forms, it gets a little boring--not to mention fattening--as the means of transporting toppings & fillings. Pizza, souvlaki, panini, hamburgers, calzone, fajitas, wraps, quesedillas--all those relatively quick, family style food have bread as a base. Heavy.

Easy Peasy. Marinade the beef in the afternoon and stir together dipping sauce. 20 minutes before dinner, start rice. Shred some carrot, grill the beef, grab a head of lettuce and dinner is served.

. I liked that the rolls offered the ease of outdoor cooking--particularly helpful these days because I'm trying to keep my kitchen extra clean--but they don't scream BBQ, because by now, BBQ is getting a little old, you know?

Have I mentioned Fast? Fast to prep, fast to grill, fast to serve. Leaves plenty of time to relax around the table and prepare each wrap lovingly by hand.

Hmmm, I guess they are more like 'folds' instead of 'wraps'. As you can see from the photo, I didn't really wrap them. They're actually more like tacos. Asian tacos? You see how confused I am?

By the way, we're really, really enjoying our beef, a locally purchased Angus calf, for those of you who are new (and there's plenty more beef recipes at the bottom of the post).

Sesame Beef Lettuce Wraps
Serves 2-3

1 head Boston lettuce
3 cups cooked rice
2 carrots
bunch of green onions
250 g minute steak or flank steak
Dipping Sauce (of choice or recipe below)

2 small garlic cloves
1 teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 Tablespoon sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon grated ginger
1 teaspoon rice vinegar
1 Tablespoon sesame seeds
fresh ground pepper

Peel and chop garlic cloves. Sprinkle with sugar and using the side of your knife blade, crush the garlic to make a paste with the sugar. Place in a bowl and add the remaining marinade ingredients. Coat steaks with marinade and refrigerate for 1-3 hours.

Peel and finely chiffonade or grate carrots. Wash and pat dry the green onions and chiffonade the green stalks; reserve the bulbs for another use. Toss green onion and carrot together and reserve until ready to serve.

Pull apart leaves of Boston lettuce and place in a bowl.

Preheat BBQ. Remove beef from marinade and pat dry with a paper towel. Lightly oil with vegetable oil. Grill quickly to desired temperature. Time will vary depending on the cut of steak. Remove from grill and allow to rest a few minutes.

To Serve:
Place rice, lettuce, and carrot on the table. Slice beef into thin strips and serve with dipping sauce of your choice or the recipe below.
Each person assembles their own wrap.

Korean Barbecue Dipping Sauce

2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 teaspoon sugar
3 Tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 teaspoon Sriracha chile sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 Tablespoon minced green onion
1 Tablespoon sesame seeds
1 Tablespoon water

On a cutting board, use the side of the blade of your knife to crush the garlic and the sugar together, forming a paste. Transfer paste to a small bowl and add all remaining ingredients. Mix together well an reserve until ready to use.

More Beef Chronicles:

In Which we Buy A Cow
An Introduction
Rib Steak With Red-Wine Butter
Rosemary-Garlic Marinated T-Bone
Cumin-Scented Kebabs
Beef Tacos with Salsa Cruda
Classic Roast Beef & Yorkshire Pudding
Shepherd's Pie with Cauliflower Purée
Steak au Poivre & Sweet Potato Fries
Ossobuco in Bianco
Chocolate Chip Chili


Cheryl Arkison said...

Yum! We've been pricing out different options to purchase our own side of beef - you've been motivating. I'm also angling for a lamb and a pig. I don't need to keep anything else in the fridge, do I?

Rose said...

Those look GREAT! I can't wait to try!

Maria said...

So fresh! I love your photos too. I like eating lettuce wraps for a light meal.

missweb said...

Tried this out tonight and it was awesome! Thanks again for saving dinner!

Melissa said...

I just bought a flank steak the other day. I will have to make this soon (I really only eat beef like once a month)

I like that these were baaaad in a good way. hahaha

Cherry Blossom said...

I love this - i so love this and haven't had that in a long time - thanks for a reminder and wonderful pictures and this tasty recipe!

Emily said...

Wow, these look so good and healthy! I know I would love them. I'm kind of like you when it comes to Asian cuisine.

Beautiful pictures!

vanillasugarblog said...

Oh how I just love these. I am loving that sauce my dear.

Unknown said...

Hi Aimee, I have come via "A Merrier World" and I love your blog. I have been browsing your back-blogs and I had a question about your onion buttermilk dinner rolls. You mention freezing the rolls - would that be after they have been baked or at some stage of the preparation? Good luck with your move and thanks for a great site!

Aimée said...

Hi Sarah- I've been thinking about those rolls! Our Thanksgiving us coming up fast and I want to make them again.

I froze my rolls after they had been cooked. The day before I wanted to serve them, I thawed them over night in the fridge and popped them back into the oven a few minutes before eating.

Jenn @ Beautiful Calling said...

These look amazing. My tummy is growling right now LOL

Julia said...

Ooo, I can't wait to try these with our own local beef! Thanks for sharing.

Nutmeg Nanny said...

I love how fun these look!

BellyWoman's Rant said...

So glad I opened your blog today and actually read it, not just looked at your gorgeous pictures! ;-)
I think I will make this for supper tonight. We have a deer roast that I have no idea what to do with it. I will brine it this AM and use it for this. Thanks, K

Melissa said...

Made this tonight and it was awesome! Thanks for sharing!

Michelle said...

Hurray! I've been looking for a recipe like this since I had something similar in a restaurant. I'll try it tonight--thanks so much!

Shayne said...

I really like lettuce wraps and I have been experimenting with them a little over the summer and yours look great and I am looking forward to trying them out.

Anonymous said...

Made these for probably the fifth time tonight...even my less than enthusiastic veggie eater loves them. :)

luster said...

My family of six loved them, I had to beg them to stop eating and save some for dad. I want to try your sourdough doughnuts next, We are trying the ginger bread for dessert, hopefully it will be a hit too.


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