When I say “freezer friendly lettuce wraps” I mean the filling, of course. Do not expect to be able to freeze a leaf of lettuce and have it come out the other side remotely resembling lettuce. That said, if you make this filling in advance and freeze it, one day after you stick it in in the fridge to thaw you’re a washed lettuce leaf and a sliced avocado away from dinner.
You need one special ingredient for this recipe: gochujang (Korean red pepper paste) but the stuff is delicious, lasts forever, and has the potential to be quite versatile. I was introduced to and quickly became obsessed with the Korean sesame/garlic/gochujang flavor combo while in Tanegashima, where we had a few Korean barbecue places within walking distance of our hotel. Gah, I miss real Korean barbecue (or, er…the Japanese interpretation we ate). But these lettuce wraps help.
I do hope I have time to make another batch and stick it in the freezer before I go into labor and (I’m assuming) neglect my kitchen for a who knows how long.
Freezer-Friendly Korean Beef Lettuce Wraps
serves about 6
1 Tbsp neutral oil, like peanut
1 medium onion, diced small
1 box mushrooms (button, baby bella, shiitake, about 10 oz)
2-3 small carrots
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb ground beef
1 cup frozen spinach (I like the leaf spinach because you can measure out as much or as little as you want without thawing the whole package)
1 1/2 Tbsp gochujang (Korean red pepper paste)
3 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp toasted sesame oil
2 tsp honey
4 green onions, sliced
leaf lettuce or romaine, for wrapping
sriracha, for topping
1. In a large pan over medium heat, cook diced onion until translucent. Chop mushrooms and carrots very small (I like to use a food processor to make quick work of it) and cook them along with the onion. When most of the water has cooked out, add garlic and cook until fragrant.
2. Add ground beef and brown it in the same pan as the veggies, breaking up while cooking. When the beef is cooked, add spinach (straight from the freezer is fine) and thaw in the pan, stirring occasionally.
3. Add gochujang, soy sauce, sesame oil, and honey to the pan and stir until well incorporated. Taste for seasoning and add more soy sauce if it’s not salty enough for you.
4. To freeze for later serving, transfer the cooked filling to a freezer-friendly container, allow it to cool, label and store it in the freezer for up to 3 months. The night before you are ready to eat it, transfer the container from the freezer to the fridge to thaw. Reheat the filling in the microwave or in a pan until it reaches 165F.
5. Top with sliced green onion and serve with lettuce, sliced avocado, sriracha, and rice.