Lower Sugar Korean-Style Lettuce Wraps

korean chicken wraps, celery apple salad

We really love these lettuce wraps, but the original recipe that I followed calls for a half cup of brown sugar per one pound of ground beef. That is a bit more sugar than I’d really like to ingest! Last night when I made these again I decided to try cutting the amount of sugar significantly. It worked pretty well; I think next time I will maybe add a tablespoon of hoisin sauce to give a little extra depth to the flavor. Before the sugar-sweetness was predominant but without as much brown sugar, the flavors are almost overly mild (keep in mind that we like fairly spicy, well-seasoned foods). You can add a small can of drained and chopped water chestnuts at the end, if you like them.

Lower Sugar Korean Style Lettuce Wraps

  • 1/4 cup. brown sugar
  • 6T soy sauce (I used reduced sodium)
  • 1.5T roasted sesame oil
  • 2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 2 tsp fresh grated ginger
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1T vegetable oil
  • 1lb ground beef/turkey/chicken
  • 8 oz chopped white or crimini mushrooms
  • 3 scallions, chopped, with some green bits reserved
  • 8 leaves of romaine, washed and trimmed as necessary (you can use other lettuce as long as it has a sturdy leaf)
  1. This is a recipe that comes together very quickly once you start cooking, so it makes sense to prepare everything ahead of time. Have minced garlic ready in a small dish, ground meat unwrapped and ready to slide into pan, and mushrooms and scallions chopped and set aside.
  2. Prepare sauce in a small bowl or measuring cup. Combine brown sugar, sesame oil, soy sauce, red pepper flakes and ginger; whisk until fairly smooth. Set aside to allow flavors to meld while you prepare meat.
  3. Heat oil and garlic over low heat until just fragrant. Add ground meat and cook until no pink remains. I like to use this tool to make sure my ground meat is in fairly small pieces. This is not a great recipe for large chunks of meat.
  4. When meat is cooked through, add the mushrooms and saute a few more minutes, until the mushrooms are shiny and very soft.
  5. Stir in prepared sauce and cook 2-4 minutes, until all meat is coated and looks slightly shiny. The sauce will reduce somewhat, but it never gets too thick since there is significantly less sugar in this version.
  6. Stir in most of chopped scallions and remove to a serving dish. Scatter reserved green onion slices over top. You can serve lime wedges alongside as well.
  7. Serve with romaine lettuce and make sriracha or other hot sauce available! We also eat it over rice sometimes and that is very good, too. Serves 4 generously.

NOTES: You can probably use ground pork to good effect in this recipe as well. Or boneless, skinless chicken breast that has been chopped up fairly small but not actually minced. I use refrigerated grated ginger that I buy in the produce section of the grocery store. It is so much more convenient to me than dealing with little knobs of ginger. And guarantees that I pretty much always have fresh ginger available.


4 thoughts on “Lower Sugar Korean-Style Lettuce Wraps

  1. I have printed out this recipe from the link you provided and made the changes that you made. This sounds like a recipe that my son and his GF would love to make…..low sugar, no starches, fast and easy to make. Maybe I will make it for them the first time because I am so confident they will enjoy it.

    1. I hope they enjoy it! It really is one of our favorite recipes. We had it over rice the other day because my romaine disintegrated in the fridge, but I really prefer it as lettuce wraps.

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