Thai-style sliced-beef lettuce wraps are exactly as advertised—skirt steak dunked in a flavor-forward marinade that imbues it with an irresistible taste. All that remains is to wrap it in crisp lettuce and pop it in your mouth. Seems unlikely? Lettuce show you how good they are.
I think using lettuce as a “wrap” is a brilliant idea; you get the freshness of a salad and the satisfaction of a wrap. Arrange the lettuce around the platter of beef so people can wrap their own.–Sara Foster
Thai-Style Sliced-Beef Lettuce Wraps
- 3 tablespoons chopped cilantro leaves
- 2 tablespoons tamarind paste,* hoisin sauce, or barbecue sauce
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon grated peeled ginger (from a 1-inch piece)
- Grated zest and juice of 1 orange
- Grated zest and juice of 1 lime
- 2 scallions minced (white and green parts)
- 1 garlic clove minced
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 small fresh red or green chile thinly sliced
- 1 1/2 pounds skirt steak cut crosswise into 6-inch pieces
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 head Bibb lettuce or 2 endive leaves separated
- 1 red pepper thinly sliced
- 1 carrot julienned
- Cilantro leaves for garnish
- To make the marinade, stir the cilantro, tamarind paste, soy sauce, ginger, orange zest and juice, lime zest and juice, scallions, garlic, honey, and chile together in a small bowl.
- Place the steak in a shallow glass bowl or large sealable plastic bag. Pour half of the marinade over the steak and turn the meat or shake the bag to coat it with the marinade. (Reserve the remaining marinade for serving.) Cover the bowl or close the bag and set aside to marinate for about 30 minutes at room temperature or up to overnight in the refrigerator.
- Heat a grill pan or cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat until hot. Remove the steak from the marinade and season both sides to taste with salt and pepper. Cook the steak for 3 to 4 minutes per side for medium-rare. Move the steak to a cutting board, cover it loosely with foil to keep warm and allow it to rest for about 5 minutes before slicing.
- To serve, thinly slice the steak diagonally against the grain and put the steak slices on a platter. Drizzle the meat with the reserved marinade and arrange the lettuce leaves, sliced red pepper, carrot, and cilantro around the platter.
*What is tamarind?If you eat Thai food, you've definitely tried tamarind. Also used in Indian, Pakistani, Middle Eastern, Vietnamese, and all sorts of other national cuisines, tamarind is more popular than you might know. Those sweet, sour, brown candies that you get after Japanese food? That's tamarind. A hardwood tree that grows in most tropical regions—Africa, India, and Pakistan are all major producers—it's used in most of its forms (raw, ripened, powdered) in lots of international cooking. You can't sub unripened, green fruit for ripened fruit, as the taste is dramatically different. For most home uses, a block of pulp or a jar of paste is probably the best bet. As far as a substitute goes, lime juice is pretty good, but you can also go with a 50-50 mix of vinegar and sugar. If you've come across a few recipes calling for tamarind paste, you wouldn't go astray to seek some out. It's pretty delish.
Recipe Testers' Reviews
Mmmmm. This is delicious. The recipe advises marinating skirt steak from 30 minutes to overnight. I marinated it for 4 hours, which was enough for the flavor to permeate the meat, although I'm thinking 30 minutes may not be enough.
The recipe calls for 2 tablespoons tamarind paste, barbecue sauce, or hoisin sauce—this is quite a variety of possible flavor outcomes. I used tamarind. I like that the recipe also requires orange juice and zest, which is a welcome addition to the cilantro, soy sauce, ginger, lime, scallions, garlic, honey, and chile.
Rather than use a skillet, we grilled the meat. We also added a touch of Thai chile vinegar sauce for a different flavor to a couple of the wraps. This made a delicious and satisfying summer dinner and amongst the better Thai wraps that we've had.
Originally published June 05, 2007