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Korean Barbecue Lettuce Wraps

Justin Fox Burks

Korean barbecue lettuce wraps may sound exotic and hard to make but I can assure that they are so simple to prepare that they will quickly become a weeknight go-to at your house.

Korean lettuce wraps are perfect little handheld packages made of boldly flavored meat, a spicy sauce, and crisp veggies all wrapped up in cool leafy lettuce. There is lots of variation of what can be inside your wrap but this recipe is one of my favorites.

Thinly-cut breakfast pork chops are my go-to meat for lettuce wraps. Perfect for a weeknight meal, they are easily available and inexpensive.  Since they are so thin, they absorb the marinade as well as cook quickly.  Any boneless meat would work for this recipe though.  Consider also using boneless chicken breasts or thighs or even flank steak.

These wraps work best with large, pliable lettuce leaves. I like to use butter lettuce but Boston bibb, red leaf, and even iceberg lettuces would also work. No matter which lettuce you choose, be sure to dry the lettuce well before using for the wraps.

No lettuce in the house? Put the fillings over rice for a tasty rice bowl dish instead.

When preparing the meat to serve, be sure to cut it very thinly. Thinner slices of meat are easier to wrap in the lettuce and, if enjoying this dish as a rice bowl, easier to pick up with chopsticks.

Garnish with ingredients like cilantro, fresh mint leaves, lime wedges, grated carrots and scallions.

This is Jennifer Chandler with The Weekly Dish. Bon Appetit!

Korean Barbecue Lettuce Wraps

  • 2 tablespoons Asian garlic chili sauce
  • 2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
  • 2/3 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 1 cup soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons sesame seeds
  • 3 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 6 boneless breakfast pork chops, small, thin cuts, about 1/4-inch thick each (about 1 1/2 pounds)
  • Vegetable oil, for the grates
  • 1 large head butter lettuce, leaves separated
  • Fresh mint leaves (optional)
  • Lime wedges (optional)
  • Grated carrots (optional)
  • Chopped scallions (optional)

In a shallow nonreactive dish just large enough to hold the meat in a single layer, stir together the chili sauce, sesame oil, vinegar, soy sauce, sugar, sesame seeds, ginger, and cilantro. Reserve 1 cup of the mixture as a sauce and refrigerate until ready to use.

Place the pork chops in the marinade and toss to coat. Marinate at room temperature for 20 minutes.

Preheat a clean grill to medium-high with the closed for 8 to 10 minutes. Lightly brush the grates with oil.

Remove the pork chops from the marinade and shake off the excess. Discard the marinade.

Place the pork chops on the grill. Close the lid and cook, turning once, until no longer pink in the middle, about 3 to 5 minutes on each side. Remove from the grill and slice into thin strips.

To serve, take 1 lettuce leaf at a time and place a spoonful of the sliced pork into the center. Garnish with the reserved sauce and your desired toppings. Wrap the lettuce around the filling. Serve immediately.

Serves 4.

Recipe reprinted with permission from Simply Grilling by Jennifer Chandler.

Jennifer Chandler graduated from Le Cordon Bleu in Paris at the top of her class. She is a freelance food writer, restaurant consultant, and author of four cookbooks.