Tony writes: I’m on an Asian market tear of late, paying a visit at least once a week, buying things I never buy, and saying hello to people there who invariably respond with a blank stare. No matter, Asian herbs, like Thai basil and Chinese chives, are my new thing. I love fresh herbs, but often find a way to talk myself out of a purchase when they’re $3 or $4 a pop at Wholefoods. But the herbs at the Asian market, like all produce there, is invariably cheap and of impeccable quality. And so I buy these slightly exotic herbs and then try to figure out ways to work them into my cooking. This preparation is a new favorite, a lettuce wrap which is as much about the herbs – they become like a salad – as it is the beef; I throw some Thai basil into a garlicky marinade for the beef, then grill the cubes of meat and wrap with Boston lettuce and a mix of cilantro and mint more of the basil as well as some fresh lime. It’s stupid easy and light and summery and just the way you should be cooking at this time of year, especially if you get a chance to get by the Asian market. Here’s how:
The Recipe: Serves 4
1. Get situated: Prepare a medium charcoal fire or heat the gas grill to medium-high. Up to 24 hours ahead, marinate the beef: Cut 1 1/2 lb. sirloin tips (or “flap meat”) into 1-inch cubes, slicing off and discarding any large pieces of fat. In a medium bowl, whisk 1 Tbs. soy sauce, 1 Tbs. fish sauce, 1 Tbs. sugar, 1/2 tsp. kosher salt, and 1/2 tsp. black pepper. Add the beef and 2 garlic cloves (thinly sliced), toss well, and let sit for 30 min at room temp or refrigerate for up to 24 hours.
2. Grill the beef: Thread the beef onto metal skewers and set on the grill. Cook, undisturbed, until the beef easily releases when you lift an edge and browns at the edges, about 2 min. Flip and grill the other side until browned and the beef is medium firm to touch (and your preferred level of pink when you make a nick into a thicker piece), about 2 more minutes. Transfer to a large platter.
3. Assemble the green wraps: Break up 1 head Boston lettuce into individual leaves. Wash and arrange 1 cup fresh cilantro sprigs, 1/2 cup fresh mint leaves, and 1/2 cup Thai basil leaves. Using one or two leaves, wrap a couple of pieces of beef, some torn herbs, and a squeeze of lime. Serve with Sriracha and steamed rice.