Sweet Leaf

One of the things I love about sorrel, apart from the fact that it’s a low-maintenance perennial, is that it grows twice each season: once in the spring and again in the fall. Its gently lemony tang and big green leaves are welcome in salads and other applications, especially when the fall lettuces haven’t come in yet. In this case, along with the shiso—which had a banner year—they made superb rolling papers for bulgogi ssam. Sorrel and shiso are a combination for the ages, especially when paired with richly seasoned beef, pickled radishes, and Thai chilis.

My normal sauce for this is gochujang, sesame oil, vinegar, and sometimes a bit of stock, but we’re out of gochujang. I know. The horror. I took some homemade ketchup and added a lot of Korean pepper powder and miso to it, and you know what? It was not completely terrible. So I sliced a lovely grass-fed sirloin into thin strips and marinated it in the sauce. While it sat for a bit, I kneaded thinly sliced radish and turnip in salt until soggy, then rinsed and squeezed them and dressed them with sesame oil, cider vinegar, and scallions. I made rice, washed some cilantro, and sliced up a Thai chili and a green serrano for good measure.

Once it was all ready, I threw the beef into a shrieking hot skillet and mopped it around a bit to cook, then removed it to a bowl and added the rest of the marinade to bubble and reduce to an appealing thickness. I put all the various components into various dishes, and we sat down.

This is such a delightfully good way to eat meat; it’s nourishing and gorgeously flavorful and interactive to boot, and the portions are most reasonable when you use one steak for three people. And whatever about the traditional lettuce wrap; If you have sorrel and shiso growing right now, I strongly suggest you combine them like this, or even in a pesto or salad. I can’t think of two leaves that have more to say to each other.

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11 Comments

  1. Mo
    9/19/2012
    Reply

    Yum, sounds so good. I love sorrel.

  2. Elizabeth
    9/20/2012
    Reply

    Your patience and imagination with food and flavors slay me.

    • Peter
      9/21/2012
      Reply

      There wasn’t a lot of patience required for this one, but thanks.

  3. 9/20/2012
    Reply

    That sad statement makes me want to go to Hmart for you and ship you some. NO ONE should be out of gochujang. EVER. ANd yes, my shiso is out of control. It will be a shame to waste it when the frost comes, but what else can one do with it?

    Here…enjoy some maangchi. I love her

    • Peter
      9/21/2012
      Reply

      I wish there was an Hmart anywhere near here.

    • Peter
      9/21/2012
      Reply

      Try pesto; it’s good with cilantro and Thai basil. Vary the proportions so it doesn’t overpower the others.

  4. 9/21/2012
    Reply

    In my tiny little garden (3 window boxes, 3 big pots) I have sorrel and shiso and can’t wait to try them. Odd that sorrel is thought of as such a spring thing… since it does, as you say, may a return trip in the fall. I look forward to trying the combination

  5. Peter
    9/21/2012
    Reply

    I’m sure you’ll come up with something wonderful.

  6. Lisa potter
    9/24/2012
    Reply

    You are a magician to this chowderhead. Keep dragging me along. The load ain’t heavy . . . .

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