This week we’re throwing a Korean BBQ. If you’ve never experienced the joy of eating sesame and garlic-infused bites of sweet Korean-style steak wrapped inside crispy lettuce with charred grilled onions, sticky rice and spicy sauce, well, friend, you’ve been missing out.

Before meeting Emily, Kyle lived in Seoul for 18 months, and other than the copious amounts of bootleg DVDs he brought home, this recipe is the most valuable thing he picked up during his time there. It’s meant to be prepared while taking shots of ice-cold soju, a Korean liquor that’s ubiquitous in Seoul and tastes like a close relative of both vodka and sake. Like sake, soju isn’t necessarily our favorite booze to drink, but it’s definitely a tasty addition to this flavorful marinade. Speaking of the marinade, don’t be fooled by all the steps involved; it may look complex because it happens in three phases, but it’s actually quite simple. You should be able to find kimchi, a spicy pickled cabbage and Gochujang, a spicy red pepper paste, at most grocery stores, but if not, a trip to the Asian market is always fun.

This meal is meant to be presented as feast, so let your guests make their own lettuce wraps. That way they can add as much Gochujang as they want. Warning: Once you try it in this context, it will be easy to understand why American chefs have begun embracing this Korean condiment for all sorts of delicious applications. Try it on eggs, put it on a burger or just eat it with a spoon — it’s that good.


Korean Barbecue Lettuce Wraps
2 pounds of ribeye steak, sliced ½-inch thick
1 white onion, sliced into thick rings

Marinade 1:
1 medium white onion, peeled and chopped
1 kiwi, peeled and chopped
¼ cup pineapple juice
2 tablespoons soju

Marinade 2:
2 tablespoons minced garlic
3 tablespoons sesame oil
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 teaspoons freshly-ground black pepper

Marinade 3:
6 tablespoons soy sauce
4 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons freshly-ground black pepper
2 tablespoons honey


For serving:
White rice, prepared according to instructions

Puree the onion in a food processor until it becomes onion juice. Add the kiwi, pineapple juice and soju. Puree until well-incorporated. Add the steaks to a 9×13-inch pan and pour the onion mixture over the steaks, then use your hands to make sure the steaks are well coated. Marinate for 7 minutes. (Seriously, set a timer. Otherwise the fruit juice will overcook the meat before it even hits the grill).

While the steaks are in the 7-minute marinade, add the ingredients for Marinade 2 to a freezer bag. Once the seven minutes are up, wipe off any excess onion mix with a paper towel and add the steaks to the bag with Marinade 2. Refrigerate up to 3 hours, for at least an hour.

Combine the ingredients of Marinade 3 in a separate freezer bag. Transfer the steaks from Marinade 2 bag to the Marinade 3 and refrigerate for at least an hour.


Grill the steaks over direct heat, turning often, for about 5 minutes. Place the onion rings around the meat to cook simultaneously. Allow the steaks to cool for 5 minutes, chop them into smaller hunks and serve with the lettuce, rice, gochujang and grilled onions. Pour shots of ice-cold soju and sip beers throughout the course of your Korean barbecue feast.