Korean Grilled Beef Lettuce Wraps

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This dish is downright addictive. Thinly-sliced strips of beef are marinated in a salty-sweet-spicy marinade then quickly seared on the grill. Then they’re rolled up into ssam (Korean-style wraps) by folding a piece of steak or two, some rice, vegetables and herbs inside a crisp, cold lettuce leaf.

Be sure to put the meat in the freezer for a bit before slicing the meat; it simplifies a potentially onerous task.


For the beef

  • 1 ½

    pounds rib-eye or other well-marbled steak

  • ¼

    cup soy sauce

  • 1 ½

    tablespoons unrefined sugar

  • cup stout or porter

  • 3-4 garlic cloves, minced

  • 2

    scallions, minced

  • 1

    teaspoon black pepper

  • 2

    teaspoons sesame oil

  • 1

    tablespoon honey

  • 1

    Asian pear, peeled and grated

For the serving

  • cooked sushi rice

  • large lettuce leaves

  • scallions, chopped

  • slivered chiles

  • fresh herbs, like Thai basil, shiso, mint and cilantro

  • radishes, thinly sliced

  • baby carrots, peeled and quartered

  • Persian cucumbers, thinly sliced and marinated briefly with seasoned rice vinegar

  • chile flakes

  • garlic cloves, thinly sliced

  • sriracha or other chili sauce


    1. Wrap the steak in plastic and place it in the freezer while you put together the marinade. In a medium bowl, combine the soy sauce, sugar, beer, garlic, scallions, pepper, sesame oil, honey and Asian pear. Take the steak out of the freezer and slice it across the grain into 1/4-inch-thick strips. Stir the steak into the marinade and let it sit for 30 minutes, while you build a very hot fire or preheat a gas grill to its highest setting.
    2. When the grill is very hot, sear the steak until nicely caramelized, 2 or 3 minutes on each side. Work in batches to avoid crowding the meat. Serve the beef with condiments and make ssam (Korean-style wraps) by folding a piece of steak or two, some rice, vegetables and herbs inside a lettuce leaf.
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