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Korean BBQ Short Rib Lettuce Wraps

Korean BBQ Short Rib Lettuce Wraps
Jean Cazals / Korean Food Made Simple
Cook Time:
30 mins
Prep Time:
30 mins

Chef notes

This dish is a classic Korean barbecue recipe. It is such a crowd pleaser! The aroma of sweet smoke alone will make guests' mouths water. There is definitely a reason why Korean barbecue has become such a hit around the world. 

Technique tip: If your pears are very sweet, cut down on the amount of sugar in the recipe. Soaking the scallions not only makes the onions curl attractively, but also takes away any strong "bite" and overpowering scallion flavor.

Swap option: Feel free to substitute any cut of beef. If you cannot find mirin, it's okay to use lemon-lime soda.


Short ribs
  • 1 large Asian pear or 2 firm ripe pears, peeled and grated
  • tablespoons dark brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • tablespoons toasted sesame oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, grated
  • 2 teaspoons grated, peeled fresh ginger
  • 1 large pinch kosher or sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound bone-in L.A. cut beef short ribs
  • Vegetable oil, for grilling
Spicy lettuce wrap sauce
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon Korean soybean paste (doenjang)
  • 1/4 cup Korean Chili paste (gochujang)
  • 1/4 cup mirin
  • 2 tablespoons roasted red sesame seeds
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, grated or minced
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced on angle
Spicy scallion and red onion salad
  • 8 scallions, cut into very thin 5-inch long strips
  • 1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • tablespoons Korean apple vinegar or rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
  • 2 teaspoons Korean chile flakes (gochugaru)
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • Kosher salt or sea salt
Steamed white rice
  • 2 cups short or medium grain Korean rice
    To serve
    • Red or green lettuce leaves
    • Perilla leaves, also known as sesame leaves (optional)
    • Steamed white rice (recipe above)
    • 1/2 recipe spicy lettuce wrap sauce (recipe above)
    • Spicy scallion and red onion salad (recipe above)


    For the short ribs:


    In a medium bowl, combine the pears, sugar, soy sauce, sesame oil, garlic and ginger, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir until the sugar has dissolved. Add the ribs and massage the marinade into the meat. Cover and let marinate in the refrigerator, tossing once or twice, for at least 2 hours or up to overnight (the longer you marinate the beef, the better it will taste).


    Preheat a gas or charcoal grill until very hot.


    Lightly brush the grates with vegetable oil. Shake any excess marinade off the beef and arrange the beef on the grill without crowding. Grill for about 30 seconds per side for rare, or longer if you like it more well done. Remove from the grill and cut the meat off the bones with kitchen shears or a sharp knife.

    For the spicy lettuce wrap sauce:

    In a small bowl, whisk together all the ingredients until smooth. Cover and store in the refrigerator if not using immediately.

    For the spicy scallion and red onion salad:


    Put the scallions and onion in a large bowl of ice water and soak until scallions curl up, at least 5 minutes or up to 2 hours in the refrigerator.


    When ready to serve, drain well, spin in a salad spinner or pat dry.


    In a medium bowl, whisk the soy sauce, vinegar, sesame oil, chile flakes, sugar and a pinch of salt until the sugar dissolves. Add the scallions and red onion and toss to coat.

    For the steamed white rice:


    In a medium saucepan with a tight fitting lid, combine the rice and enough cold tap water to cover it. Swish the rice around with one hand until the water becomes cloudy and then slowly pour the water out using your hand to keep the rice form falling out of the pot. Repeat 2-3 more times, until the water runs mostly clear; drain well.


    Add 2 cups of water to the saucepan. Steam, covered, over medium-low heat until all the water has been absorbed, about 30 minutes. It's important to refrain from lifting the lid while the rice cooks.


    Remove the saucepan from the heat and let it sit, covered and undisturbed for 10 minutes. Uncover the pot and gently fold the rice over itself with a rice paddle or rubber spatula a few times before serving.

    To serve:

    Transfer the meat to a platter and serve with the lettuce, perilla leaves, rice and spicy lettuce wrap sauce on the side.

    Put a lettuce leaf in one hand and top with perilla leaf (if using), a spoonful of rice, a smear of sauce, a piece of beef and some spicy scallion and red onion salad. Wrap the lettuce around the ingredients, and enjoy.

    Recipe from Korean Food Made Simple. Copyright © 2016 by Judy Joo. Reproduced by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.

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