kruizing with kikukat

Monday, August 13, 2018

Korean Lettuce Wraps

My summer vacation is officially over.  Actually, it's been over for more than two weeks.  The Hawaii school year seems to begin while most of the northern hemisphere is still enjoying the dog days of summer.

So once again, the dilemma of packing a lunch presents itself.  I really don't enjoy making sandwiches.  Seems like a lot of dishes for a mediocre output.  Leftovers are a better choice for me, and a great way to use up leftover barbecue (beef, chicken or, my favorite, pork) is to make lettuce wraps.  My last post, Korean spicy bbq pork, is what I normally use for lettuce wraps.

The Help remembers having lettuce wraps as a kid.  He said they did a simple one where they put rice and some shoyu on a lettuce leaf.  D1, before she was rat lung worm-phobic, couldn't get enough of the minced chicken lettuce wraps from Hilo Rice Noodle.  We would need to buy 2 orders...1 for her and the other one for the rest of us.

For the neatest lettuce wraps, use Manoa lettuce.  The leaves are soft enough to mold around the filling, but not so soft that it will disintegrate.  I've seen it described as a leafy, bibb-type lettuce.  It is readily available in supermarkets here, and I usually buy the hydroponically grown type sold in the giant plastic bubble (takes up lots of space in the vegetable bin).  If Manoa lettuce isn't available, a boston or bibb lettuce will work.  A leafy lettuce would also do fine.  I had The Keeper over for sake sipping and served lettuce wraps using organically-grown baby Romaine.  That worked out well, since the leaves were just the right size to hold a golf ball-size rice clump and some meat slivers.  But please don't use iceberg lettuce...that would be more appropriate for minced chicken.
What makes these lettuce wraps really tasty is the sauce.  I used to buy kochojun, until my friend's mom shared her sister's recipe for the homemade stuff.  It's infinitely better than the store-bought variety.  My dad even uses it to make his own taegu.  Of course, if you're not so ambitious and don't want tubs of kochojun in the fridge, buying it in small jars is the sensible alternative.  The sauce (you can see some of it on the rice in the pictures above and below) has some kochojun in it, and I think it adds a nice flavor to the wraps.  But my dad prefers to use straight kochojun.  He smears it on the lettuce leaf before adding the rice. 
click on recipe title for printable recipe

     Manoa lettuce, separated
     cooked rice
     strips of cooked, seasoned beef, pork, or chicken 
     3 oz shoyu
     1 tbsp kochojun (gochujang)
     1 1/2 tsp sugar
     1 1/2 tsp rice vinegar
     chopped green onion

Combine all ingredients except lettuce, rice, and meat.  To eat, place rice and desired meat on lettuce leaf.  Spoon sauce over.  Wrap up and eat.
 
It's been a little over two years since my mom passed.  Although I still miss her dearly, I feel like some normalcy and routine have returned to my life.  I'm hoping to post more frequently since I'm cooking more now (I have another mouth to feed during the work week).  Over the past few years, I've become more adept at knitting, something which would have made KikukatMom proud.  While I will continue to share favorite recipes, I hope to also share my knitting triumphs, fails, WIPs and FOs.
    

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