Grilled Steak Lettuce Wraps with Sake and Ginger Soy Sauce

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These Grilled Steak Lettuce Wraps are made from tender steak bites marinated in a combination of Sake, soy, and ginger, and grilled on a skewer. Add pickled carrots, and some fresh veggies for a savory and delicious appetizer or even a main meal!

This is also a great recipe when you have trimmings from cutting up and preparing other steak cuts like our Beef Tenderloin.

Grilled Steak Lettuce Wraps
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Lettuce wraps are a great way to create a light and fresh meal from vegetables and meat. We love to take a protein like steak, marinate it, grill, and then finish with the lettuce wraps and some sauce. It’s also a great one if you’re practicing a low carb or gluten free diet, or just need a break from the heavy breads and fillers. (Note that you want to buy Gluten Free Soy Sauce)

This lettuce wrap recipe uses Sake as a marinade and as part of the dipping sauce for a fruity element, and soy for the savory flavor. There are many ways to build on this recipe based on your personal preference.

How To Make Lettuce Wraps

We follow a few key steps in order to get the most flavor from this easy lettuce wrap recipe.

  1. Marinade the steak to tenderize and add flavor.
  2. Grill the steak for some earthy element.
  3. Slice up fresh vegetables for a fresh and element and some crunch.
  4. Finish with a savory sauce.

Marinade

A marinade for any dish is meant to tenderize or add flavor. In this case, we are doing both. The marinade will also have similar flavor profiles as the sauce, with the goal to tie together the flavor of the meat and the finishing bite. For our marinades we always balance the flavors by adding savory, sweet, and acid components.

Marinade for Grilled Steak or Beef

Ingredients we use for our lettuce wrap steak marinade:

  • Savory – Soy sauce, yellow onions, ginger, and garlic bring savory and heat. Alternatively you can use Worcestershire, shallots, cayenne, or other similar ingredients.
  • SweetSaké, a fruity rice based alcohol, and honey add sweetness. Alternatively you can use brown sugar, or agave nectar.
  • Acid – Acid is what helps tenderize the meat. Lime is the key acid in this marinade. Alternatives include rice wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar.

Mix all the ingredients together and place into a 1 gallon plastic sealable bag. Add the steak to the baggie and marinate for up to 3 hours in the refrigerator.

Best Steak for Lettuce Wraps

We commonly make this recipe when we have trimmings left over from cutting up other steaks like a NY Strip Loin, Beef Tenderloin, or other large cuts. Simply cut the trimmings or your steaks into small squares that will be skewered and grilled.

Cutting up the steak into smaller cubes also allows more marinade to hit more surface area of the steak for flavor.

If you don’t have trimmings then great options include:

  • Sirloin – These tender and marbled steaks are great to cut up and marinade.
  • Eye of Round – This more lean cut will tenderize nicely.
  • Tri Tip – This has great marbling and is very tender.

We don’t use ground beef because we want to slice the steak after grilling and have that texture versus the ground smaller pieces.

We use Snake River Farms Tenderloin Pieces that we’ve cut up from prior roasts and frozen. Or you can buy them in one pound batches as well. Remember that any steak trimmings are great for these types of recipes.

You can also chicken or any other protein in this recipe. It’s another great idea for leftovers like our pulled pork lettuce wrap. Just skip the marinade.

Seasoning and Grilling The Steak

Remove the steak from the marinade and discard the marinade. Place the cubes of steak on the skewers and season with a simple rub of equal parts kosher salt, granulated garlic, and coarse black pepper.

Chef’s Tip: If you are using wooden skewers, be sure they have soaked in water for an hour so they don’t burn on the flame.

Grilled Steak Skewers

Grill the skewers over direct heat with the target temperature over the direct heat of 500 – 550 degrees Fahrenheit. This will sear the steak quickly on the exterior while keeping the interior tender. Grill for approximately 6 minutes and flip once. Continue grilling until the internal temperature reaches your preferred temperature, about 4 additional minutes. We pull ours at rare, or 125 degrees F, using a good instant read thermometer like the Thermoworks Thermapen MK4.

Temperature Ranges for Beef

Beef Temperature Ranges

Be sure to take into consideration the carry-over cooking that happens while the steak rests. For steaks remove them 5 degrees lower than your desired temperature. For roasts remove them 10 degrees lower. The steak’s internal temperature will rise as it rests.

Black and Blue100 – 120° Fahrenheit (F)37 – 48° Celsius (C)
Rare120 – 130° F48 – 54° C
Medium Rare130 – 140° F54 – 60° C
Medium140 – 150° F60 – 65° C
Medium Well (not recommended)150 – 160° F65 – 71° C
Well Done (not recommended)160 – 170° F71 – 76° C

Lettuce Wrap Ingredients

There is no need to cook the filling. Simply prep some simple and colorful vegetables before you grill the steak. The fresh flavors are a great complement to the grilled steak.

You can do so many combinations of flavor, based on your preference. The key is consistent size of the cuts. So we use a box grader to shred our carrots finely using the large hole and we’ll finely dice the peppers and green onions with a sharp knife. Our favorite ingredients include:

  • Carrots – You can add a quick pickle to the carrots for some added flavor. Simply use 1 cup apple cider vinegar, 1 cup water, 1 tablespoon kosher salt, and 1 tablespoon of sugar, mix together and add the carrots. After 15 minutes they are ready to go.
  • Red Bell Pepper – Adds crunch and sweet.
  • Green Onions – We dice these with a knife. These are not as strong as shallots or yellow onions but still add that nice onion flavor.

What Kind of Lettuce for Lettuce Wraps

Our go to is butter lettuce. A nice crispy crunch and still strong enough to hold the ingredients. They key to a good lettuce for the wraps are lettuce that is strong and larger to be able to wrap around the ingredients. Other options include:

  • Butter Lettuce
  • Hearts of Romaine
  • Endive are smaller and great for larger groups where you want a smaller bites

Sauce

Simply add all the ingredients together in a bowl and use to dip the wraps in, or use a spoon to drizzle a small amount into each wrap. As we said in the beginning, we replicate many of the marinade ingredients to tie the flavors together.

Sake, soy, and fish sauce add savory elements. Thai sweet chili adds sweet. We also add red chili pepper flake for a little heat and sesame seeds for a little toasty element.

Steak Lettuce Wraps on a plate topped with veggies

Other Appetizer Ideas

grilled steak lettuce wraps
4 from 2 votes

Grilled Steak Lettuce Wraps Recipe with Sake and Ginger Soy Sauce

Marinated steak, skewered and grilled. Slice them up and serve with fresh veggies in a lettuce wrap for a delicious savory appetizer.
Prep: 2 hours
Cook: 8 minutes
Resting Time: 10 minutes
Total: 2 hours 18 minutes
Servings: 4 people

Equipment

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Ingredients 

Lettuce Wrap Marinade

  • ½ cup Saké
  • ¼ cup low sodium soy
  • ¼ cup diced yellow onion
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • ½ teaspoon grated fresh ginger
  • 1 tablespoon local honey
  • 2 tablespoons fresh squeezed lime juice

Sauce

  • ¼ cup Saké
  • ¼ cup low sodium soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Thai Sweet Chili Sauce
  • ¼ teaspoon sesame seeds
  • ¼ teaspoon red chili pepper flakes
  • 3 dashes fish sauce

Lettuce Wrap Filling

  • 1 head butter lettuce, rinsed and dried, individual leaves gently removed
  • 1 carrot skin removed and finely grated
  • 1 whole red pepper, finely sliced
  • 4 stalks green onion, finely diced

Instructions 

Steak Marinade

  • Place a one gallon plastic freezer bag in a bowl. Combine marinade ingredients in the plastic bag and stir.
  • Trim the steak into small 1 inch cubes, remove any excess fat and place into the marinade. Seal the baggie tightly and marinate in the refrigerator for up to three hours.

Lettuce Wrap Sauce

  • While the steak is marinading, combine all the sauce ingredients in a small bowl. Cover and keep in refrigerator until ready to eat.

Lettuce Wrap Filling

  • While the steak is marinating prepare the fresh ingredients. Separate the butter lettuce into single lettuce pieces. You can store in the fridge until ready to eat.
  • Finely grate the the carrots using a box grater and the largest hole. Finely slice the red pepper and dice green onions. Store each in a separate dish so the lettuce wraps can be constructed individually.

Grilling the Steak

  • Prepare grill for direct grilling targeting 500 – 550 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove the steak from the marinade and discard the marinade. Place steak onto the skewers. Combine the salt, pepper, and granulated garlic into a small dish and generously season the skewers.
  • When the grill is ready, grill the steak over direct heat for 6 minutes or until you see nice char marks. Flip the skewer over and continue grilling an additional 4 minutes or until the internal temperature of the steak is 125 degrees F, using an instant read thermometer.
  • Remove skewers from grill and let rest for 10 minutes. While resting get all the filling ingredients and the sauce prepped for serving in separate dishes.
  • Remove the steak from the skewers and slice them thinly. Place into a dish and construct your lettuce wraps.
  • On the butter lettuce add a small bit of steak, carrots, red pepper, green onion, and sauce. Wrap the lettuce like a taco and enjoy.

Notes

For added flavor, consider a quick pickle for the carrots.
In a large bowl combine 1 cup of apple cider vinegar, 1 cup water, 1 tablespoon kosher salt, and 1 tablespoon sugar until the salt and sugar dissolve. Place the shredded carrots into the pickling liquid for 15 minutes. Strain and they are ready to eat.

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Prep Time: 2 hours
Cook Time: 8 minutes
Resting Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours 18 minutes
Course: Appetizer
Cuisine: American, Asian inspired
Servings: 4 people
Keyword: Grilled Steak, pulled pork lettuce wraps, steak lettuce wraps
Like this recipe? Leave a comment below!

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Vindulge

About Mary


I'm Mary, a wine/food/travel writer, Certified Sommelier, mom of twins, former vegetarian turned BBQ fanatic, runner, founder of Vindulge, and author of Fire + Wine cookbook. Thanks for stopping by!

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2 Comments

  1. Hi Mary & Sean,

    Yummy recipe. I’m getting hungry just by looking at the pictures haha.

    I’ve actually never tried using Sake with food. But now I know. It’s worth experimenting with different ingredients, right?

    The recipe also reminds me of this Vietnamese spring rolls dish. It had pretty much everything except for the Sake and red bell pepper. They also added wet rice paper outside of the lettuce to give it some strength. And mint for that extra kick. Real tasty!

    Thanks for sharing your recipe with us. Look forward to more from you guys.

    -Thinh