Marinated Flank Steak Ssam with Kimchi and Butter Lettuce

From Matthew Altizer

2013 Jul/Aug

Ssam is the Korean word for “wrapped” and it refers to almost any type of grilled meat that is wrapped with lettuce. A ssam is usually served with a combination of kimchi and other Korean pickles, along with rice and Korean hot sauce. Letting the meat rest is an important stage in the cooking process, it allows the juices to re-absorb back into the meat. It’s almost impossible to over-rest steak, just make sure to keep the meat warm under a tent of aluminum foil.



  • 2 c. apple juice
  • 1/2 c. light soy sauce
  • 1/2 yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1 t. sesame oil
  • 1 t. black pepper
  • 2 16-ounce flank steaks


  • 1 c. kimchi
  • 2 c. steamed short-grain rice
  • 1/2 c. pickled ginger
  • 2 to 3 heads butter lettuce, leaves separated, rinsed and spun or patted dry
  • hot sauce
  • Maldon salt to finish


To make the marinade, combine all marinade ingredients in a large freezer bag, seal and shake to combine. Marinate the steaks for a minimum of 1 and maximum of 24 hours. Preheat the grill over high heat. Remove the steaks from the marinade. If the steaks are too large to fit on the grill together comfortably, cut them in half with the grain. Grill for 6 to 10 minutes for medium-rare, or for 8 to 12 minutes for medium. When the steaks are done to your liking, remove them to a platter and let them rest for at least 5 minutes.

When ready to serve, cut the steaks into 1/4-inch slices against the grain on a slight angle. Serve the steaks on large cutting boards or platters with the accompaniments. Wrap the meat, rice, kimchi and ginger – sprinkled with hot sauce and Maldon salt – in the lettuce leaves to eat. Serves 4 to 6.