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Who said that enjoying your favorite Asian cuisines while following a ketogenic diet was impossible? Today, I'm delighted to share with you an irresistible recipe that’s been a game-changer for my low-carb lifestyle: the keto Korean BBQ, specifically prepared in a lettuce wrap!
The Delights of Korean Food, Keto-Style
Korean food is renowned for its rich, savory flavors. From bulgogi to kimchi, Korean cuisine is a feast for the senses. However, like many Asian cuisines, traditional Korean food is often high in carbs, particularly from rice and sweet sauces. But don't fret! That's where the magic of our keto Korean BBQ steps in.
The Essence of Keto Korean BBQ
Our version of the Korean BBQ, a favorite in many a Korean barbecue restaurant, focuses on short ribs and pork belly – two of my favorite cuts of beef. Marinated in a mouth-watering concoction of sesame oil, soy sauce (we'll use coconut aminos as a healthier substitute), and a spicy bulgogi sauce, this dish is a testament to the next level of flavor you can achieve while sticking to a low-carb diet.
Special Ingredient Highlights
For our keto-friendly sweetener, we’ll use monkfruit extract instead of the usual lot of sugar you'd find in a traditional Korean BBQ sauce. We'll also incorporate xanthan gum and tapioca starch to give our marinade that distinctive thick texture. Plus, a sprinkle of sesame seeds, a dash of chili flakes, and a hint of lemongrass puree to elevate the flavor profile.
The Power of Substitutions
Low carb doesn't mean low taste. For instance, swapping out the soy sauce with coconut aminos significantly lowers the net carbs while still delivering that robust, salty flavor. We'll also replace the rice traditionally served alongside Korean BBQ with a delicious and equally satisfying cauliflower rice side dish.
For those who like their BBQ spicy, sriracha sauce can be added. It's a flavorful way to increase the heat without adding unnecessary carbs. Remember, the best part of cooking at home is tailoring the dish to your taste!
Tips for Preparing Your Keto Korean BBQ
Here are some bullet point tips to guide you in preparing this flavorful meal:
- Choose your favorite cut of beef. While I recommend short ribs or pork belly, skirt steak or chicken thighs can be an excellent substitute.
- To save time, prep the marinade ahead of time and leave your meat to soak overnight. You'll spend less time cooking and more time enjoying your meal.
- For the lettuce wraps, opt for a crispy variety like romaine or iceberg lettuce.
- Don't skip the xanthan gum. It helps thicken your marinade, giving it a more authentic Korean BBQ sauce consistency.
Keto Korean BBQ Recipe and Nutritional Information
Without further ado, let's dive into the recipe for our keto Korean BBQ.
Before we begin, ensure you have the following supplies:
- Slow Cooker or Grill Pan
- Freezer Bag
- Large Bowl
- Air Fryer (optional, for crispy texture)
- 1.5 lbs short ribs or pork belly
- 3/4 cup coconut aminos
- 1/4 cup sesame oil
- 2 tablespoons monkfruit extract (or other keto-friendly sweetener)
- 1 tablespoon xanthan gum
- 1 tablespoon chili flakes
- 2 tablespoons lemongrass puree
- 2 tablespoons minced garlic
- 2 tablespoons minced ginger
- 2 green onions, chopped
- Salt to taste
- Sesame seeds for garnish
- Lettuce for wraps
- Cauliflower rice for serving
- Combine all the marinade ingredients (except for the sesame seeds) in a large bowl.
- Add the beef to the bowl and mix until it's well coated. Transfer the meat and remaining ingredients to a freezer bag and marinate for at least 2 hours, preferably overnight.
- If using a grill pan, preheat it over medium-high heat. Add the marinated beef and cook each side for 4-5 minutes until nicely charred.
- If using a slow cooker, add the marinated meat and cook on low for 6-8 hours.
- Serve the cooked meat in lettuce wraps, garnished with sesame seeds and a side of cauliflower rice.
Per serving: 480 calories, 35g fat, 5g net carbs, 32g protein.
Comparing Keto Korean BBQ
Compared to the traditional Korean BBQ, the keto version stands tall with a significantly lower net carb count. The flavors are still rich and satisfying, and you can enjoy a guilt-free, high-fat, low-carb meal that aligns with your ketogenic diet. The lettuce wrap offers a fresh, crisp bite, and the cauliflower rice is a delicious low-carb side that compliments the savory BBQ flavors.
Keto doesn't mean you have to give up your favorite meals, it just means being a little more creative with your ingredients:
- Coconut Aminos: This soy sauce substitute is not only lower in sodium, but it also boasts a significantly reduced carb count. Coconut aminos bring a unique sweetness with a hint of salt, imitating the iconic flavor of soy sauce without jeopardizing your keto diet.
- Cauliflower Rice: A versatile and nutritious alternative to traditional rice. Cauliflower rice pairs well with the strong, savory flavors of Korean BBQ, soaking up the sauce while keeping your meal low-carb.
Marinate for Maximum Flavor
A great marinade takes a meal from good to great. In the case of our keto Korean BBQ:
- Time is your friend: Allow your beef to marinate for at least two hours, but preferably overnight. The longer the beef soaks, the more flavorful it will be. Marinating also tenderizes the meat, resulting in a more enjoyable texture.
- Ingredients Matter: Combining flavors such as sesame oil, lemongrass puree, and coconut aminos create a complex, flavorful marinade that permeates every bite of the beef. The inclusion of a keto-friendly sweetener like monkfruit extract and heat from chili flakes adds layers of taste, creating a sweet and spicy profile that is simply irresistible.
Tailor to Your Taste
Dietary restrictions should never be a barrier to enjoying your food:
- Spice it Up: If you like your food on the spicier side, feel free to add extra chili flakes or even a dash of sriracha sauce. This can give your BBQ an extra kick without adding extra carbs.
- Savor the Sweetness: Prefer a sweeter BBQ sauce? Adjust the amount of monkfruit extract in your marinade. Remember to taste as you go, as monkfruit extract can be much sweeter than traditional sugar.
- Choose Your Meat: While short ribs and pork belly are my favorites for this recipe, don't feel limited. Feel free to substitute with chicken thighs, skirt steak, or even chicken wings. The key is ensuring the meat is cut thin enough to absorb the marinade and cook evenly.
The takeaway here is simple: your meal should be tailored to your preferences. With a bit of creativity and a willingness to experiment, you can create a keto Korean BBQ that is satisfying, delicious, and uniquely yours.
Wrapping It Up
The joy of home cooking lies in the ability to modify and adapt to your dietary needs without compromising on flavor. Our keto Korean BBQ is proof of this, showcasing that the ketogenic diet is more than just high fat and low carbs—it's about exploring, innovating, and enjoying a diverse range of foods.
So the next time you have a craving for Korean food, don't deny it—embrace it. Your keto diet should fuel your lifestyle, not limit it. Remember, a diet isn't just about restrictions; it's about balance, joy, and savoring each bite. Happy cooking, everyone!
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