Korean-Style Grilled Elk Lettuce Wraps

In Carnivores Kitchen by Chef John McGannon, WildEats.comLeave a Comment

Courtesy of Chef John McGannon, wildeats.com
Often overlooked, Korean-style BBQ is one of my favorite cuisines. The vast assortment of pickled vegetables, chilies, sake and full-flavored meats pairs well with wild game. And the style, which features quick, eat-as you-go cooking is light and exciting. Team that with a bunch of small, almost bit-sized portions and you have a social nirvana waiting to happen.

The Korean approach is to match highly seasoned meats with a wide variety of refreshing, acidic, sweet and spiced condiments. The result yields a limitless variety of flavors that will suit just about anyone’s palate.

Korean-Style Grilled Elk Lettuce Wraps
  • 2 lbs elk loin, top rounds or top sirloins—trimmed of all silver skin, fat and tendons, thinly sliced 1/4 inch
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar

Lay the sliced meat out on a sheet pan and sprinkle with the brown sugar. Rub into the meat and allow to sit for 30 minutes. Then, marinate the meat for 10 minutes with the following mixture:

Sake Soy Marinade

1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup sesame oil
1 tbsp crushed garlic
1/4 cup rice wine (sake)
pinch of black pepper

Once the meat is marinated, pre-heat a grill and quickly cook the meat. Do not overcook it. Allow the meat to rest for a couple of minutes before slicing into smaller portions. Serve in little cups of crisp lettuce. Drizzle with the sauce below and serve with Kim Chi.

Korean Dipping Sauce

1 1/2 cups soy sauce
1 cup soybean paste
1 tbsp crushed garlic
1 serrano or jalapeno pepper sliced thin
2 – 3 tbsp canola oil (or vegetable)
1 cup dry sake
1 bunch of scallions, chopped fine

Place all the ingredients in a small sauce pot and slowly bring to a simmer. Allow to simmer for 5 minutes. Adjust seasonings to taste and set aside. This dipping sauce can be served with any meat or fish and will store for a month in the refrigerator.

Kim Chi

Kim Chi is a fermented cabbage and in Korea, it’s commonly used as a garnish with just about anything. It is a refreshing acid, with unique spice and texture.

1 2-pound Napa cabbage
1/2 cup kosher salt
About 12 cups cold water, plus more as needed
4-6 red radish, cut into 1-inch matchsticks
1 bunch scallions
1/3 cup red chili sauce (Korean or Sriracha)
1 inch frozen ginger, grated
1 tbsp garlic
3 tbsp sesame oil

Cut the cabbage in half lengthwise, then crosswise into 2-inch pieces, discarding the root end. Place in a large bowl, sprinkle with the salt and toss until the cabbage is coated. Add enough cold water to just cover (about 12 cups), making sure the cabbage is submerged. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature 12-24 hours.

After this salting, which initiates the fermentation process, drain the cabbage in a colander and rinse with cold water. Gently squeeze out the excess liquid, transfer to a medium bowl and set aside. Place the remaining ingredients in a large bowl and stir to combine.

Add the cabbage and toss with your hands until the cabbage is thoroughly coated with the mixture. Pack the mixture tightly into a container with a snug-fitting lid.

Let this sit in a cool, dark place for 24 hours (the mixture may bubble). Open the jar to let the gases escape, then reseal and refrigerate at least 48 hours before eating (Kim Chi is best after fermenting about one week). Refrigerate for up to one month.

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