Korean barbecue is a popular menu item in restaurants—its sweet, spicy, tangy, earthy flavors make it easy to love. So why not make it at home and enjoy it any time the mood hits?
We did just that.
A couple of months ago when my mom was visiting, we tried this recipe from Fine Cooking and loved it so much we’ve made it three times since. The marinade is fantastic and the sauce (Ssamjang) has been smeared on any number of stray pieces of leftovers. I’m not sure if dining outside made it taste any better, but it sure made a special evening sharing it with Mom. She enjoyed it so much, it was one of the recipes she asked for when she prepared to go home. So, this one is for you, Mom.
Once you collect the ingredients, the recipe is easy to put together. If you’re not used to preparing Korean-style dishes, the ingredient list might be a little intimidating.
But that’s why I reworked the recipe with ingredients that are easy to find and understand for us novice cooks of Korean food. I found all of these items at our local grocery store, except the red/brown miso and red chile paste (gochujang), which I located at Whole Foods (Annie Chun’s brand). Let me warn you, the price of the miso ($7-$8) might make your heart flutter, but that seemingly small bag will make this recipe 4 times, so it won’t go to waste. (Trust me, you’ll want to make it more than once.)
An Asian market would carry more authentic options for red chile paste, but I was trying to create a recipe that didn’t require another store, anther stop.
Can you relate?
The original recipe also called for Korean chile threads for serving, which I did not find, nor did I think it needed any additional chile flavor, so that is not included in this recipe. Of course, if you have an Asian market in your area, they will surely have everything if you want to follow the authentic recipe at Fine Cooking.
Korean Barbecue Skirt Steak does require a little planning ahead, but it doesn’t get any more complicated than letting the marinade do the work. We have a grill and we use it as often as we can, so I haven’t tried broiling or pan-searing the meat, but I think it would work if you don’t have a grill. Really, the magic is all in the marinade and the sauce.
This recipe also works great with chicken thighs (I know, right?!) and we have enjoyed it that way too, but in this version we used skirt steak. It cooks quickly, which means dinner is just minutes away. Wash the lettuce and stir-fry vegetables before you put the steak on the grill so when it’s done and sliced, you’re ready to sit down at the table. If you’re not familiar with skirt steak, check out this post on Serious Eats for all the juicy details and why it’s such a great cut of meat.
Oh yes, the vegetables. We opt for a quick stir-fry of vegetables with garlic and ginger to tuck into the lettuce with the marinated beef instead of rice. You’ll wrap this flavor explosion in lettuce—here we use romaine—and then top it with the earthy, red chile sauce. Butter lettuce, green or red leaf lettuce works well too.
Do you tend to overstuff?
Prepare more lettuce leaves than servings so you can double up if needed—sometimes wraps need reinforcement—especially if someone gets too ambitious.
I would classify this recipe as medium-mild for spicy heat. The marinade is more mild, the sauce has the bigger kick, so you can adjust accordingly. Sweet chile spice with sesame, ginger, and garlic infuse the steak with deep Asian flavors in every bite—adding stir-fry vegetables make every wrap a complete meal.
Adapted from Fine Cooking June/July 2013 Issue, pg. 75
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