Lettuce Tacos with Grilled Sesame Beef

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Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 11 minutes
Servings: 4

In this high-impact marinade, each of the six ingredients plays an important role. Based on a Korean-style recipe, it embodies the Asian technique of layering flavors. Here, nutty sesame seeds and sesame oil combine with a host of salty, sweet and spicy ingredients to create a dish that’s complex in taste, but still simple in execution.


  • 4 large green onions, white and pale green parts minced 
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced 
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce 
  • 2 tsp. mirin 
  • 1 tsp. Asian sesame oil 
  • 1/2 to 1 tsp. red pepper flakes 
  • 1 lb. sirloin steak 
  • 1 Tbs. sesame seeds 
  • 12 small cup-shaped leaves butter or red leaf lettuce 


In a shallow, nonreactive baking dish, combine half of the green onions, the garlic, soy sauce, mirin, sesame oil and red pepper flakes. Add the steak and turn to coat evenly. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or for up to overnight, turning the steak from time to time.

Prepare a charcoal or gas grill for direct-heat grilling over high heat.

While the grill is heating, in a small, dry frying pan over medium heat, toast the sesame seeds, shaking the pan frequently, until pale gold and fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes. Pour onto a plate and let cool.

Remove the steak from the marinade and pat dry with paper towels. Place on the grill rack and cook, turning once, until well browned on both sides, about 4 minutes on each side for medium-rare, or until done to your liking. Transfer the steak to a cutting board and let rest for about 5 minutes.

Using a sharp knife, thinly slice the steak on the diagonal across the grain and then cut it crosswise into small pieces. Arrange the lettuce cups on a platter. Divide the steak among the cups, sprinkle with the sesame seeds and the remaining green onions and serve right away. Makes 12 tacos; serves 3 or 4.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma New Flavors for Appetizers, by Amy Sherman (Oxmoor House, 2008).

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