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
- 2-3 pounds skirt steak
- ½ cup toasted sesame oil
- 3 tablespoons Tamari soy sauce
- ¼ cup coconut palm sugar -- or other unrefined sweetener
- ½ cup red onion -- finely chopped
- 4 teaspoons fresh ginger -- minced (jarred is fine)
- 4 cloves garlic -- minced
- 4 teaspoons mirin
- 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes -- or more if you want more spice
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- ½ cup green onion -- chopped, both white and green parts
- 3 Tbs. red or brown miso -- Eden Organics Genmai Miso, soy / brown rice
- 2½ Tbs. red chile paste (gochujang)
- 2 Tbs. mirin
- 2 tsp. toasted sesame seeds
- 1 tsp. toasted sesame oil
- 2 tablespoons avocado or coconut oil
- 1 cup sweet yellow onion -- sliced thin
- 1 cup sugar snap peas -- sliced in half lengthwise
- 1 small bell pepper -- red, orange, or yellow; sliced thin
- 1 small zucchini or yellow summer squash -- cut into large matchsticks
- 2 large stalks celery -- thinly cut on the bias
- 2 cloves garlic -- thinly sliced
- 2 teaspoons fresh ginger -- minced
- sea salt & pepper
- 1 tsp. toasted sesame seeds
- 16-18 lettuce leaves (such as green or red leaf) -- washed and dried (this will allow you to double up if needed)
- Put the marinade ingredients in a gallon sized plastic bag and mix by massaging the bag with your hand to help dissolve the sugar and combine ingredients. Place the steak into the bag and gently massage the marinade all over the steak. Seal the bag and place it in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours, up to 24 hours. Longer is better, so I prefer to mix this up the day before I plan to make it. Rotate the bag occasionally from one side to the other to be sure all the beef get enough time in the marinade.
- Mix the sauce ingredients in a small bowl until well combined. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
- In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat until hot. Add the onion and cook until the edges begin to brown and the onion is translucent. Add the remaining prepared vegetables, except the lettuce, with the ginger and garlic and saute until crisp-tender, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Place a lid on the skillet to keep the vegetables warm while grilling the steak. When ready to serve, garnish vegetables with toasted sesame seeds.
- Over a charcoal fire or gas grill, cook steak directly over the heat of coals or on high, depending on the gas grill (you want heat, not a flames licking the steak). Remove the steak from the marinade and discard marinade. Grill steak for only 3-4 minutes on each side. Remove from grill to a cutting board, tent with aluminum foil, and let rest 10 minutes. Slice against the grain into thin strips and serve with the lettuce, vegetables, and sauce (Ssamjang).
- Fill a lettuce leaf about half full with slices of steak and vegetables, then garnish with the sauce as desired. Wrap and enjoy.
**To prepare in a cast iron skillet, coat the skillet with peanut oil and heat over medium-high heat until hot. Sear the steak in the hot skillet for 3-4 minutes on each side. For this method, the steak may need to be cut into manageable pieces to fit in the skillet for a proper sear on each piece.
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