beef + shiitake lettuce wraps
As promised, here is the recipe for the dish from last weekend’s cooking demo at Williams-Sonoma. I recently made this dish for a couple private client events, and everyone raved about it. I figured it would be perfect for the demo because it’s really simple to make, yet there are a few things about the ingredients that people might not know.
Such as! The *best* shiitake mushrooms from Chinatown. If you’re in NYC and you like mushrooms, you simply must head to Chinatown (at most of the markets where they sell vegetables outside) and pick up a few pounds. They are SO much better than what you’ll find at any grocery store or market. We discovered these when we were doing ABODE, because Old Bowery Station is so close to Chinatown. I’m pretty sure every menu thereafter included them in one dish! To prepare them, we always roast them – pop out the stem (this is bitter so you have to just toss it), lightly coat in a neutral oil like canola, and season generously with salt before roasting in the oven at 400 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes. They are so good just like that – we always end up snacking on them like little potato chips throughout the day. From there, you can slice or dice and include them in many dishes. I slice and add to quinoa or rice for a side, or dice and add to these lettuce wraps.
The other main ingredient is the beef, and for this dish I use boneless short ribs. It’s a cut of beef that some are unfamiliar with – I was, in fact, before Gregg introduced me to it. I had previously only known the bone-in variety which always requires a nice, long braise to make it tender and delicious. With the boneless version, you can also give it a quick sear for a tender, super-flavorful product. The trick is, you have to be okay with eating your meat pretty rare. If you cook it any longer, it will be too tough. So it’s really one extreme or the other, fast sear for a beautiful rare piece of meat, or low and slow to break down all of that connective tissue. It’s also great for a dish like Thai beef salad.
One of the things I wanted to teach at the demo was how to get a great sear. Here are my tips:
The last component here is the dressing. It’s an Asian-style dressing made with fresh ginger, soy sauce, and a few other ingredients. Easy to whip up in the Vita-Mix which blends the ginger right in! If you don’t have one, you can grate the ginger in with a Microplane.
I love this recipe because it’s great as an appetizer – the lettuce wraps make it so easy to serve and eat. It was so fun But you could equally enjoy it as a main course. Maybe add some rice to the mix. And I think corn would be a nice addition in the summer.
Beef + Shiitake Lettuce Wraps
Serves: 12 to 15
A lettuce wrap filled with seared boneless short rib, roasted shiitake mushrooms, and a ginger-soy dressing.