The writing is on the wall: fewer and fewer families are sitting down to a dinner table where beef is the featured entrée. Between concerns about high fat and cholesterol, and the growing evidence against aspects of factory farming, a large steak dinner raises more red flags than excitement. What to do when the craving calls for steak?
The solution: This take on Korean barbeque features grilled or broiled skirt steak served in lettuce wraps. It offers a terrific way to feature the flavor and texture of the cut, while keeping the ratio of meat to fresh produce in check. Steak is the star, but in a more nutritious context. The additional components are sliced or chopped and served in bowls, allowing everyone to create their own lettuce wraps. This meal is not only delicious; it’s particularly enjoyable for the younger family members who are required to “play with their food.” You will be delighted with the results!
The skirt steak is marinated for two solid days, so think ahead when planning this dinner. The steak and rice are the only ingredients you will cook and those are just before you serve the meal.
What you need to serve a family of three or four:
1½ -2 pounds of trimmed skirt steak
2 12 oz. bottles beer. Choose a full bodied product rather than “lite.”
3 cloves garlic, chopped or sliced thin
1 T. chopped fresh ginger
½ cup chopped cilantro
4 tsp. sugar
3 scallions, chopped
2 T. sesame oil
¾ cup soy sauce
1 tsp. chili oil
2½ quart non-reactive pot or glass bowl
Cut the skirt steak into 3 ½ to 4 inch strips. Combine the remaining ingredients in the glass bowl or non-reactive pot. Immerse the steak pieces in the marinade. If the steak is not fully covered with the marinade, add more beer. Cover and refrigerate for 48 hours.
On the day you serve, remove the meat from the refrigerator an hour and a half before grilling or broiling. While the meat is losing its chill, prepare the vegetables and then the rice.
For the vegetables:
2 heads of iceberg lettuce, large outer leaves removed, carefully washed, dried, and piled on a wide plate
1 tsp. rice vinegar
¼ tsp. sugar
Dash of salt
Dash of red pepper flakes
1 medium carrot, ribboned
½ cup scallions, sliced and placed in a small bowl
1 Asian pear or one small Macintosh apple and 1 Bosc pear
½ tsp. lemon juice
½ - ¾ cup coarsely chopped cilantro
½ cup chopped plain peanuts (see technique below)
Slice the cucumbers into thin rounds. In the same bowl you will use to serve, toss with the rice vinegar, sugar, salt and red pepper flakes.
Pare the carrot and discard the outer layer. Continue running the parer all around the carrot to create about one cup of ribbons.
Slice the Asian pear into sticks and toss with the lemon juice to avoid discoloration.
Easy technique for creating small pieces of peanuts: place the peanuts into a strong zipper bag. Lay the bag flat on the kitchen counter. Run a rolling pin over the pieces until they are just lightly crushed.
Prepare the rice:
2 cups short grain white rice; Japanese sushi rice is ideal
4 cups water, plus water for rinsing the rice
½ - ¾ tsp. salt
1 T. rice vinegar
Sriracha hot sauce for the table
Rinse the rice two or three times in cold water. Bring four cups of water to a boil. Stir in the salt and sugar. Add the rice and cover, turning the heat down to low. While the rice is cooking, preheat the grill or broiler. When the rice is done, immediately fold in the rice vinegar. Cover and place on the table along with the assorted bowls and plated additions.
Remove the steak from the marinade. Grill or broil until the center of the meat is reddish pink. If you prefer a more done product, cook until pink inside. Remember: meat keeps cooking after you remove it from the heat source. Do not overcook; the steak will become too chewy. Let the meat rest, loosely covered with foil, for five minutes. Slice thinly against the grain. Place on a warm plate. Sprinkle with some of the chopped cilantro.
The assembly: each diner places a lettuce leaf on his or her plate, and places about 1½ teaspoons of rice in the center of the leaf, tops the rice with two slices of skirt steak, then adds carrots, cucumber slices, scallions, cilantro, Asian pear, peanuts and if desired, dots of Sriracha. Fold the leaf into a small packet, eat, enjoy and repeat! Serve with plenty of paper napkins!