Cool and crisp fall days mean it’s perfect weather for Korean BBQ and ssam. Luckily, I had a beautiful piece of Korean rib eye steak in the fridge! My first thought was just to grill it and make ssam with it.
But today was just lunch for 1 and I was too lazy and hungry to make rice. I wanted something different but easy to make…hmm..then, why not a steak ssam salad?
Before I talk about the salad, a little note on the Korean style rib eye or deungshim (등심) steak cuts: they are a lot thinner (only about 1/2 in or 1.25 cm thick) than American rib eye steaks which makes them ideal for BBQ and ssam. The Korean deungshim steak cut is also bigger than the US rib eye and typically includes the back strap (yellow ligament 황색 인대, see lower left part of the picture).
The back strap is always removed in the US cuts probably because Americans find it too chewy and tough. However, many Koreans actually consider it as a delicacy. I also generally prefer chewy texture, but I actually found the back strap too chewy, even for me.. 😉
So what kind of dressing should I make for the salad? Then I thought of a relatively new side dish for grilled meats that is now served in just about every BBQ restaurant in Korea. The side dish is sliced fresh onions served in soy-vinegar sauce that’s meant to be eaten with grilled meats. I am not sure when exactly it came into existence but the onion salad definitely did not exist 20 years ago. Sadly, the dish has no clear name. If you have eaten at a Korean BBQ (Gui Jip 구이집) restaurant recently, the chances that you had something similar to this onion salad (양파 무침 yangpa moochim) is very high.
This example of the onion salad is from a Korean blog.
I love the tangy and fresh taste of this onion salad (양파무침 Yangpa Moochim) so I created the following dressing with an added twist of lime.
Soy Maesil Dressing Ingredients
- 2 T rice vinegar
- 2 T maesil (plum) syrup
- 1 tsp dark soy sauce
- 1 tsp lime juice (optional but tastes so much better if you add it)
Make the dressing by mixing all the ingredients together. You can substitute 2 T maesil syrup for 4 tsp rice wine + 3 tsp sugar + 1 tsp water.
Servings: 2 Cooking Time: 10 min Difficulty: Easy
- 1 lb (450g) Korean rib eye steak (deungshim steak 등심 스테이크)
- handful of chrysanthemum(ssukat 쑥갓) leaves
- 1 small head of green and/or red leaf lettuce
- 1/2 large purple onion
- 2-3 cloves of garlic
- 2 T olive oil
- sesame oil
- sea salt
- Wash ssukat and lettuce leaves. Tear into small bite size pieces and set aside.
- Slice onions and garlic thinly.
- Trim off any excess fat from the rib eye steak as much as possible.
- Heat pan on medium high heat and add 1~2 T olive oil. When oil is hot (swirls around like water), add garlic slices and brown them. Set aside. Drain garlic oil from pan and use it in other dishes.
- Wipe any remaining oil from pan and heat up the pan again for 1 min on high heat. Cook the steak in the pan for 1-2 min on each side or until it’s browned nicely on both sides. Do not overcook.
- Cut steak into bite size pieces and serve with onions, lettuce, ssukat, roasted garlic and salad dressing.
Alternate Serving Suggestions
This is somewhat of a reconstructed ssam (minus the ssamjang) with a style similar to a lettuce wrap. But it comes already assembled so all you need to do is just to wrap and eat it.
- Assemble and stack (starting at the bottom) : couple pieces of small leaf lettuce -> purple onions -> piece of steak -> a drizzle of sesame oil -> few specs of good quality sea salt -> roasted garlic -> top it with ssukat -> sprinkle soy plum dressing.
And there you go! You have just made a fabulous Korean style steak salad a la JJ (or Kimchimari) style. See picture at top of page for the final presentation.
For extra kick of flavor, add some yellow mustard paste (1 tsp or less) to the dressing.