Or lettuce wraps, or low carb tacos, or whatever.
HAPPY MONDAY! Here’s your answer to a Monday: highly flavorful, super tender beef, wrapped in veggies because health, but steak because sometimes we need steak on a Monday.
I’ve talked a ton here about how Jay and I love Korean BBQ, we even went out just the two of us on Christmas Day this year for Korean BBQ in San Diego while Beck napped. It was a fun and strange date, and we had a great time. The combo of sweet+spice+salt+tang all in one marinade is just more than I can manage, and I’ve been playing around with a few variations recently that we’ve used over beef. This particular version is a super thinly sliced ribeye marinated in a Korean-style sauce that we make in the blender so it takes zero time. Then the beef is seared in a HOT skillet (or on a grill!) for just a minute or two, then we load it up into lettuce boats with some extra veggies and avocado for creaminess.
The result was just PERFECT. I made this for lunch on Saturday and we both loved it so much. I’ve also used the beef over a salad, but I think it would be great over rice with stir fried veggies or in regular tacos because OBVIOUSLY. Some of my favorite taco places have a Korean-style taco, and I get it every single time without fail.
There is really nothing to these – they come together so quickly and are super delicious. They AREN’T strictly low carb because there is soy sauce in the recipe (I subbed liquid aminos for Jay) and a little bit of sugar, which honestly the dish needs. But, there isn’t a ton of sugar and this definitely fits a low carb diet, and in general meals served in and under veggies are a good idea, even if there is a little bit of sugar involved.
For the sauce, you need! An Asian pear or regular pear (I find mine cheap at Lidl, and sometimes at Trader Joe’s, and Beck adores them. Then we have ginger, garlic, soy sauce, sesame oil, brown sugar (not pictured) and chili garlic sauce or something stronger than Sriracha. You can skip this if you don’t like spicy things or don’t have any on hand, but it’s a great extra.
The beef is ribeye, and I portion 1/4 pound per person for a light-ish meal. While you make the sauce, throw the steak uncovered in the freezer, this will make it much easier to slice.
Make the sauce by combining all of the ingredients in a blender until the sauce is very smooth. Taste, and add more sugar or soy sauce to your preference.
When the sauce is done, grab the steak out of the freezer and slice it as thinly as you can against the grain with the sharpest knife you have. I cut off any large pieces of fat and work my way around the outside of the steak so I’m cutting about 4-inch pieces the whole time. They don’t have to all be the same, we just don’t want them super long or super short. When the beef is cut, place the strips in a shallow bowl or plate and pour the bulgogi sauce over the meat.
Let the meat marinate for 20 minutes (or longer, if you have time!), and gather up the other ingredients for the lettuce wraps. I use romaine hearts, carrots cut into matchsticks, and lime wedges. Other ideas for toppings are cilantro, sliced jalapeno, avocado, chopped peanuts, or any other veggie that sounds good to you.
When you’re ready to eat, all that’s left to do is cook the meat and assemble the boats. I use a cast iron skillet, but any grill pan or skillet that you like is fine. Preheat to medium-high with a drizzle of oil, and wait 5 minutes or so for the pan to get REALLY hot. When the oil almost smokes, cook the meat in one layer in batches with plenty of space between each piece of beef so the meat gets super crispy. Once the meat is on the skillet, don’t move it for at least a minute until you can see that it’s cooking and curling at the edges. The beef should simmer a lot – turn up the heat if needed to keep the pan nice and hot.
After about 90 seconds, flip the beef and let it cook on the other side until it’s nice and brown. Continue cooking until all of the beef is done, and build your boats! I think this is so much fun for parties or small gatherings because you can put everything out and everyone can build their own bulgogi boats to their liking.
I have no words for the flavor, other than all of the words. The beef gets so crispy at the edges because of the sugar and soy sauce, and the asian pear almost forms a crust on the outside of the meat. The lettuce is the perfect vessel, although some white rice with this is also SO good, and I highly recommend adding something tart (lime) and spicy (jalapeno or extra hot sauce) to your lettuce boats to kick up the flavor even more.
You could definitely make this marinade ahead of time and use it throughout the week, it would be wonderful on chicken or shrimp for a change of pace or if you don’t eat red meat.
You will LOVE these. Enjoy!
- 1 Asian pear, cut into chunks
- 4 cloves garlic, peeled
- 1/2 inch piece fresh ginger
- 1/2 cup soy sauce
- 4 tablespoons brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons sesame oil
- 1 tablespoon hot chili garlic paste
- 1 pound ribeye steak
- 12 medium romaine lettuce leaves
- for topping: carrot matchsticks, cubed avocado, cilantro, lime wedges, extra chili sauce, or crushed peanuts
In a blender, combine the Asian pear, garlic, ginger, soy sauce, brown sugar, sesame oil, and chili garlic paste until very smooth. Taste the sauce, and adjust the seasonings to your preference.
Place the steak in the freezer for about 10 minutes to firm it up (this can be done while you make the sauce). When the steak is very cold, slice it thinly into about 4-inch pieces; almost as if you are shaving the meat with your knife. Place the steak strips in a shallow bowl and pour the marinade over the meat. Toss with tongs to evenly coat the steak.
Let the steak marinate at room temperature for about 20 minutes while you prepare the rest of the ingredients; veggies, lettuce, and any other toppings you'd like.
When the steak has marinated a bit, preheat a cast iron skillet (or any heavy skill you like) to medium-high heat with a drizzle of olive oil. When the oil is very hot, add some of the steak in one layer to the skillet. Don't disturb the meat for 90 seconds, then flip the steak and let it continue cooking until both sides are very browned. Continue with the rest of the meat, this may take 3 batches or so depending on the size of your skillet.
Assemble the boats with some of the beef and top evenly with the veggies and a squeeze of lime. I love these with avocado, cilantro, and lime juice.