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:
- Make sure the meat is at room temperature. Take it out an hour before cooking if you can.
- Salt VERY generously just prior to cooking. With beef, you don't want to salt in advance because this will extract the moisture from the meat. (Different than with chicken, where salting in advance tenderizes the meat.) And you need a lot of salt! This is what's going to give you the flavorful crust on the meat.
- Get your pan super-hot. Best to use a regular stainless pan, not non-stick, or even better: cast-iron.
- Use an oil with a high smoke-point. I usually use grapeseed or canola. It will just start to smoke when you've added it to the pan.
- Once you add the meat, it will sizzle loudly. Let it cook for a couple minutes on each side until it develops a thick, golden-brown crust. Do not move it around in the pan while this is developing. Just let it be!
- Cook the meat in batches. You don't want to overcrowd the pan because then the meat will steam and you won't get a good sear.
- After you've got your sear, remove the meat and let it rest for about 10 minutes. This is going to ensure your juices stay inside the meat and not out on your cutting board.
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.
- 3 pounds shiitake mushrooms, stems removed
- Canola or grapeseed oil
- Kosher salt
- 2 pounds boneless beef short ribs
- 2 packages butter lettuce
- 2 bunches scallion greens, sliced
- Ginger-Soy Dressing:
- 2 to 3 inches fresh ginger, peeled
- 1/2 cup soy sauce
- 1/4 cup canola oil
- 2 tablespoons mirin
- 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- Juice of 1 lime
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Toss mushrooms in a large bowl with oil; salt generously. Place on baking sheets (lined with parchment or foil for easy clean-up) stem side-down. Roast for 15 to 20 minutes, until lightly crisp. Allow to cool before dicing.
- Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Season the beef very generously on all sides with salt. Once the pan is very hot, add enough oil to coat the pan and then add the beef. Cook in batches so that you don't overcrowd the pan. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes on each side until you have developed a thick golden crust. Transfer to a cutting board and let rest for 10 minutes before dicing.
- To make the dressing, add all ingredients to a high-speed blender (like Vita-Mix) and blend until combined. (You can also whisk the dressing together in a bowl - grating the ginger in.)
- In a large bowl, combine diced mushrooms, diced short rib, dressing, and scallions.
- Serve in lettuce wraps.