Korean Chicken Lettuce Wraps

Korean wraps

WARNING: This could be one of my cheesier posts, but I’m feeling nostalgic so just roll with it, OK?

So I have to tell you, these chicken wraps are good, but they aren’t Korean BBQ eaten out of a tent without ventilation in Seoul good. And that’s OK. Because it’s good to have a benchmark.

I spent just over a week in Seoul as part of a class for my master’s program this past March, and looking back, I had no idea what I was getting into. I don’t think I’d ever had Korean barbecue let alone soju, and I sure as hell hadn’t met a group of people like those I encountered there.

The food was my second favorite part of the trip. I think I’ll always have a special place in my heart for bulgogi and japchae noodles and gochujang sauce. Kimchi on the other hand? Not so much. I feel a little guilty that I wasn’t able to get into the whole fermented cabbage thing (kind of like when I went to Ireland and just couldn’t drink Guinness, like, is it really just me?) I also both appreciated and blamed the drinking culture for my lack of sleep and perpetually hungover state – how you aren’t supposed to pour your own soju, and how its culturally acceptable to drink at most points throughout the day and passing out in the street is surprisingly pedestrian. Not that this happened to anyone in our group, of course.

My first favorite part of the trip, by the way, had to be the people I met there. Sure, it was a select few out of a pretty large group, but still. They were unexpected, to say the least. There were a few nights where we would be sitting around a table at some bar, just drinking and talking, where I felt very much at home. Like I could be at any bar in San Francisco, with any of my good friends, on any other night. The fact I was in a foreign country many miles from home wasn’t lost on me. I mean, sure, I could have gotten my full eight hours each night, but that rarely makes for a good story. And depending on how this ends, it could be a great story. Maybe even the best. You know, in terms of lifelong friends, and all that stuff.

Oh and just for the record, I got an A in the class. And sure, maybe everyone did, but I feel strongly that I deserved that A. You know, by like, surviving the week. Just so we’re all clear.

2 1/2 tbs soy sauce
2 tbs brown sugar
1 1/2 tbs sesame oil
1 tbs gochujang sauce (I used this kind)
1/4 tsp black pepper

1 lb chicken breast
2 tbs olive oil
6 bibb lettuce leaves
1 cucumber, sliced
4 green onions, diced
1 tbs sesame seeds

  1. To make the marinade, mix the first 5 ingredients together. Set about 2 tbs of the marinade aside for later. Put the chicken together with the marinade in a plastic bag and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
  2. Heat the oil over medium heat in a saute pan. When its hot but not yet smoking, add the chicken to the pan. Saute for about 5 minutes on each side, or until done.
  3. To assemble the wraps, slice the chicken and layer it on top of the lettuce leaves, followed by the cucumber, onions and sesame seeds. Add remaining marinade on top. Enjoy.

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