Korean-Style Spicy Grilled Steak Lettuce Wraps

February 1, 2015
Korean-Style Spicy Grilled Steak Lettuce Wraps - What's not to love about a tasty & fun to assemble lettuce wrap? The zesty Korean flavors in these make them a standout

We started with some stretches

Spicy Steak Lettuce Wraps 3-600x

Photo Credit: LiftingRevolution.com

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An easy air of comradery amongst those of us in class

After a quick review of the warm-up, a big swipe across the volume control on the iPad filled the room with AC/DC, and everyone got to work

“Welcome, is this your first CrossFit class?  I'll come around and help.  You've been working out for a while now, right?”

“You bet.”    

A confident smile, and a glance or two out of the corner of my eye

“Oh my gosh, look at her doing pull-ups(!)

Focus, woman, stay calm.  You've been working out steady for the past few years, and you're lucky to be an instructor.  A slight logistical learning curve?  No worries, you've got this

Unbelievable!  How can anybody jump rope that fast(?!)”

Korean-Style Spicy Grilled Steak Lettuce Wraps - What's not to love about a tasty & fun to assemble lettuce wrap? The zesty Korean flavors in these make them a standout

“All right, we've got air squats.  Let's see you do one.”

Let's show him a squat to impress

“Pretty good.  How about if you stuck your behind out a bit further?  Oh, and lead with your hips instead of your knees.  Don't forget; you'll want to push them out slightly to the side as you're coming down.  Keep your back straight.  Feel the little crinkle in the back of your shirt?  You'll also want to make sure your weight is in your heels, and you'll really want to be engaging your glutes

Other than that, Way to go!”

The rest of the class had moved on to push-ups

“Not bad, not bad.  Now, what if you moved your hands in a little closer?  Kept your elbows tight to your body, back completely straight as you're lowering down.  Make sure you're leading with your chest .. better.  I also want you to come all the way down until your chest is nearly touching the ground

Does it hurt your elbow?  It's because your triceps are actually quite weak.  No worries, we'll work on them.  In the meantime, here's a way to modify.”

Korean-Style Spicy Grilled Steak Lettuce Wraps - What's not to love about a tasty & fun to assemble lettuce wrap? The zesty Korean flavors in these make them a standout

Fear and awe set in somewhere on the way to the pull-up bars.  Were they really doing push-ups from a hand-stand position(?!)   I tried not to stare, although I thought they were incredible

The workout itself?  A series of exercises, for time

20 hand-stand push-ups .. 30 pull-ups .. 40 D-Ball Slams .. 50 hand-release push-ups .. and 60 ab-mat sit-ups

I was the last one done.  Everyone else was putting their things away, and I was still finishing

“45 .. 46 .. 47 .. 48 .. Don't quit .. Whatever you do .. DO NOT quit .. 49 .. 50 .. 51 ..”

I've made it through a week, and admit, I've been humbled on every level.  For the first time in a long time, my body is sore in all sorts of ways, and it feels really, really good.

Success in 2015?  Not defined by the number on the scale.  Instead, by measurements of strength and body comp

(much more to come .. ) 

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Photo Credit: Zenlama.com

These grilled steak lettuce wraps are an amazingly simple meal that we've come to love.  Wraps are always tasty and fun to assemble, and this recipe, with a flavor combination that's both zesty and strong, makes these a standout.

They're a nice change from our usual grilled steak, and anything made Korean style is always great.  It's fun to make our own lettuce-leaf bundles with thin slices of meat, and whatever combination of garnishings we'd like.  Don't feel married to the idea of grilled steak.  We've substituted pork chops or chicken for the beef, with results that are just as wonderful.

A note about the sauce.  It's incredible.  I always make extra to serve with other dishes.  It's fresh, as well as spicy.



ps:  This is Part 2 of a Series about CrossFit.  You can read Part 1 .. here

— — —

~ Adapted from Gourmet Magazine | June 2001 

Korean-Style Spicy Steak Lettuce Wraps


  • Marinade
  • ¾ cup soy sauce (or coconut aminos)
  • ¼ cup medium-dry Sherry
  • 3 Tbsp natural sugar (Sugar in the Raw or Turbinado)
  • 1 ½ Tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 Tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp dried hot red pepper flakes

  • Steaks
  • 6 1-inch-thick boneless beef top loin (strip) steaks, about 3/4 lb each

  • Sauce
  • 3 Tbsp soy sauce (or coconut aminos)
  • 1 ½ tsp minced garlic
  • ½ tsp Asian sesame oil
  • ¾ cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
  • cup olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp lime juice (fresh is best)
  • ½ tsp minced seeded fresh habanero or serrano chile (optional, depending on your tolerance for heat)
  • 1 (4" long) fresh hot red chile, chopped

    (optional, depending on your tolerance for heat)
  • For Serving
  • 4 medium scallions, thinly sliced
  • 2 medium carrots, grated
  • 1 large head Boston or butter lettuce, leaves separated
  • 1 ¼ cups prepared cabbage kimchi, coarsely chopped
  • sea salt


  • Marinade the Steaks
  • In a medium-size bowl, whisk together the marinade's ingredients, making sure the sugar has dissolved
  • Place the steaks in a 9x13" baking dish, cover with the marinade, turning them to coat. Allow the steaks to marinate for an hour

  • Prepare the Sauce
  • In a small bowl, whisk together the sauce ingredients. Set aside

  • Grill the Steaks
  • Prepare grill for cooking
  • When the fire is medium-hot, grill steaks on a lightly oiled rack 3 to 4 minutes on each side for medium-rare. Let steaks stand on a cutting board 5 minutes, then top with some sauce and cut crosswise into ¾" thick slices

  • Serve
  • Arrange the scallions, carrots, and lettuce on a large serving platter in individual mounds.
  • Place the kimchi in a serving bowl.
  • Place remaining sauce a serving bowl
  • Assemble wraps as you'd like
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