This Korean Lettuce Salad is a wonderfully delicious side dish to any grilled meats – especially unseasoned grilled meats. The salty, vinegary and slightly sweet chili flavors really help break up any greasy taste of meats while still highlighting the meaty flavor. Korean BBQ restaurants often serve some variation of this salad with BBQ meats using different greens so you probably have tasted some variation before. Whenever we have a Korean style BBQ at home, this side salad is our favorite especially if we grill pork or beef.
The funny thing about this Korean lettuce salad is that it’s so simple and easy to make that it often doesn’t even appear in most Korean cookbooks. It may be too simple and easy to some but for those of you who are not very familiar with Korean food or seasonings, I thought it is definitely worth a post in my Korean food blog. Besides grilled meats, the Korean lettuce salad also goes great with just plain rice as part of a very healthy low calorie meal.
The salad is usually called by two names: 상추 겉절이 (Sangchoo Geotjeori or Keotjeori) or 상추 무침 (Sangchoo Moochim). Sangchoo means lettuce. Geotjeori (겉절이) literally means to pickle (jeori) the outside (geot) which is different from pickling the vegetable all the way through (for 8 hrs or more) as you do with cabbages when making Cabbage Kimchi. Moochim comes from the verb” moochida(무치다)” which means to toss and mix the ingredients with some type of seasoning or sauce.
Servings: 3-4 Cooking Time: 10 min Difficulty: Very Easy
- 1 small head of red leaf lettuce
- 6-8 perilla leaves (optional)
- 3-4 stalks of chrysanthemum leaves (쑥갓 sookat) (optional)
- 2-3 green onions (0ptional)
- For Soy Dressing
- 4 tsp soy sauce
- 1 T rice vinegar
- 1 T sugar
- 1 tsp Korean red chili powder
- 2 T chopped green onions (if you are not adding green onions in the greens)
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- 1 tsp sesame seeds
- Wash and rinse the greens (lettuce, perilla, chrysanthemum leaves). Drain. You can either tear the lettuce and chrysanthemum leaves by hand into bite size pieces (as shown in top photo) or serve whole leaves (as shown below). Do not worry about drying the greens (i.e. no need to use salad spinners) because any extra water on the leaves will dilute the dressing to make it taste just right.
- Cut perilla leaves into 1/3 in wide strips unless serving whole lettuce pieces. Set aside.
- Make my Korean dressing aka Kitchen Sink Yangnyeom Jang (see Korean Sauces II post for recipe) by mixing soy sauce, vinegar and sugar until the sugar fully dissolves. Mix in the remaining ingredients (below).
- Toss torn greens with Korean soy dressing and serve immediately or serve whole leaves and dressing on the side (see pic below). You can also allow your guest to dress their own salad or dip the lettuce in the sauce instead.
- This Korean soy dressing (Kitchen sink yangnyeom jang) works great for all kinds of greens. Romaine lettuce is one of my favorite because it’s a bit sweet and crunchy which stands up well to the salty soy dressing. Greens that have a more grassy and bitter taste (as opposed to iceberg lettuce which has little flavor) all work well with this dressing.
- Make a lighter and smoother dressing by adding 1 T apple lemon soy sauce and 2 tsp soy sauce instead of 4 tsp. Also reduce sugar from 1 T to 1 tsp since the apple lemon soy sauce is already sweet.
- Substitute 1 tsp soy sauce with 1/3 tsp fermented fish or anchovy sauce (멸치액젓 myulchi aekjeot) for a more pungent sauce that taste more like Kimchi.
- As with any salad, once it is already tossed, the greens will lose its crispy crunchiness quite quickly. So, if you like your greens to taste fresh and crunchy, toss and serve immediately and hope there’s no leftovers!