Made for sharing: Korean bulgogi beef lettuce cups

Bulgogi beef has a touch of sweetness thanks to puréed pear in the marinade (and the fruit also tenderises the meat). Freezing the whole steak for about 1 hour helps to firm it up before slicing as thinly as possible. The meat also needs to marinate for at least 30 minutes, so make sure to plan ahead.

beef lettuce cups
Erin Scott


500g boneless beef sirloin
1 small onion
1⁄2 pear (use an Asian or nashi pear if you can find one), peeled, cored and coarsely chopped
3 garlic cloves
2.5cm piece of fresh ginger, peeled and coarsely chopped
6 tbsp soy sauce or tamari
3 tbsp sesame oil
2 tbsp light or dark brown sugar
1⁄4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp white sesame seeds

60ml gochujang chilli paste
1 tbsp rice vinegar
1 tbsp sesame oil

225g kimchi
1 head of round lettuce
2 handfuls coriander, leaves and stems finely sliced
A handful mint leaves, finely sliced

  1. Start the bulgogi. Place the meat in a large resealable food bag and chill in the freezer for 1 hour so it is easier to slice very thinly.
  2. Once the beef is semi-frozen and firm, place it on a clean cutting board. Cut across the grain as thinly as possible, ideally less than 3mm thick. Return the meat to the food bag and set aside while you make the marinade.
  3. Thinly slice half of the onion and add it to the bag with the beef. Coarsely chop the other half of the onion and place it in the bowl of a food processor along with the pear, garlic and ginger. Blend until puréed. Pour this marinade into the bag. Add the soy sauce, sesame oil, brown sugar and pepper. Gently squeeze the bag to mix well. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and up to 24 hours.
  4. Just before you are ready to cook the beef, prepare the other components. Make the dipping sauce by stirring together the gochujang, vinegar and sesame oil in a small serving bowl until combined. Place the kimchi in a small dish. Separate the lettuce into individual leaves and arrange them on a serving platter.
  5. Finish the bulgogi. Heat the vegetable oil in a cast-iron or heavy-based frying pan over high heat for 2 minutes. Add the meat, onions and all of the marinade liquid from the bag to the pan. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the liquid evaporates and the meat browns around the edges (15-25 minutes). Sprinkle with the sesame seeds.
  6. To assemble, place the hot bulgogi in the lettuce cups and scatter the herbs over the meat. Place the dish of kimchi and the bowl of gochujang dipping sauce on the platter as well.

Now buy the book

boards, platters, platesOur recipes are from Boards, Platters, Plates by Maria Zizka, published by Artisan Books, price £15.99. To order a copy for £13.59 until 16 May call 020 3308 9193 or go to Free p&p on orders over £20.



Photographs: Erin Scott. © Maria Zizka 2021