Thai Steak Lettuce Wraps are inspired by a trip to Charleston, SC. Grilled steak and quick-pickled cucumbers and onions top butter lettuce leaves drizzled with a creamy Thai sauce.
Someone stole Ben’s lunch at work today! I didn’t know people actually did that, but apparently it’s happened 3 times in the past 5 years (he’s keeping track, you see.) Stinks too because I packed him some really nice goodies including a homemade chewy cherry-almond granola bar and an applesauce cup, which he just loves. Hmmph!
I told him to track down the thief and go all Ross Geller on him. My. Wrap? MYYYY WRAAAAAAP? Classic. ; )
Anyways, I’ve got a nice dinner waiting for him at home that I know will help soothe his soul – Thai Steak Lettuce Wraps, which were inspired by the Kentuckyaki Pig Ear Lettuce Wraps we had at HUSK in Charleston, except beefier (I’ll leave the pig ear prep to the pros!) and infused with the flavors of the far east instead of the low country.
Thai Steak Lettuce Wraps are tender butter lettuce leaves piled with marinated grilled steak and quick-pickled cucumbers and onions, then drizzled with a creamy, almond butter and soy Thai sauce which is made from the steak marinade. This lower-carb meal is full of flavors and textures that mingle so, so well together.
If you don’t like steak, then chicken, salmon or, oooo SHRIMP would be divine too. Also, if you can’t find lettuce cups in your area (there is actually only one place around here I can consistently find them – Dahl’s for you local folks) then enjoy in flour tortillas, or over a salad. These wraps are perfect as we head into spring and grilling season. Quick and light!
Start with the Quick-Pickled Cucumbers & Red Onions. I was tickled to see this little salad topping the pig ear lettuce wraps because it’s one of my favorite things, and super easy to make. I first had it at a little cafe while visiting a friend at KU back in college, and have been making it ever since for a cold, refreshing bite in the spring and summer time.
All you do is combine 1 thinly sliced cucumber and 1 thinly sliced red onion with 1/4 cup rice vinegar (or another vinegar) and 2 teaspoons sugar. Toss to combine then stir occasionally for another 30 minutes or so. Overtime the cucumbers and onions will slowly pickle and become soft and MAGICAL. You could make this up to a day ahead of time.
Note: I detest bread & butter pickles, so these are not like that. You can’t really taste the sugar, mmkay?
While the cucumbers and onions are pickling, get started on the sauce that will marinate the steak AND become the Thai sauce to drizzle over the wraps! Into a blender or food processor combine 1/4 cup soy sauce, 3 Tablespoons each lime juice and extra virgin olive oil, and 2 Tablespoons honey.
Next add in 1 Tablespoon + 1 teaspoon sesame oil, 1/2 teaspoon red chili pepper flakes, a 1-1/2″ knob of fresh ginger that’s been peeled and chopped, and 2 garlic cloves.
Now blend until the sauce is completely smooth.
Remove 1/4 cup of the sauce then add it to 1lb steak. I used skirt steak, but flank steak or a super tender sirloin or rib-eye would be awesome. Again, chicken or fish would be really good here too! Let the steak sit and marinate on the counter for 10-15 minutes.
Meanwhile, add 1-1/2 Tablespoons creamy almond butter to the remaining soy sauce mixture then blend again until smooth and set aside. This is the Thai sauce for the steak lettuce wraps!
Finally, grill the steak until it reaches your preferred level of doneness, then let rest for 10 minutes before slicing very thinly against the grain.
Pile fresh butter lettuce leaves with the sliced steak then top with quick pickled cucumbers & onions and drizzle with the creamy Thai sauce. Wrap, roll, and devour!
Thai Steak Lettuce Wraps
Sauce slightly adapted from Giada de Laurentiis
1/4 cup soy sauce
3 Tablespoons fresh lime juice
3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 Tablespoons honey
1 Tablespoon + 1 teaspoon sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon red chili pepper flakes
1-1/2″ knob fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
2 garlic cloves
1-1/2 Tablespoons creamy almond butter
1lb steak (flank, skirt, sirloin)
Bibb lettuce cups
For the Quick-Pickled Cucumbers & Onions:
1 small cucumber, peeled and very thinly sliced
1 small red onion, very thinly sliced
1/4 cup rice vinegar
2 teaspoons sugar
- For the Quick-Pickled Cucumbers and Onions: combine ingredients in a large bowl then stir to combine. Let sit on the counter and stir occasionally while preparing the rest of the dish. Can be made up to a day ahead of time.
- Combine soy sauce, lime juice, olive oil, honey, sesame oil, red chili pepper flakes, ginger, and garlic in a blender or food processor then blend until smooth. Remove 1/4 cup of the liquid then add almond butter to blender and blend again until smooth. Add reserved 1/4 cup marinade to the steak in a plastic bag or container then marinate on the counter for 10-15 minutes.
- Preheat a grill or grill pan to high heat then grill marinated steak until medium rare. Remove to a cutting board to rest for 10 minutes then slice very thinly against the grain. Lay out lettuce cups then top with sliced steak, quick-pickled cucumber & onions and then drizzle with the almond butter sauce.
So many flavors going on here but all working together so well. Salty, savory, sour, sweet – YUMMY!