Grilled Avocado Ssam
Chef Michael Israel
The Cheesecake Factory
Ssam is usually composed of lettuce or another leafy vegetable wrapped around Korean-style barbecue. Chef Michael Israel of The Cheesecake Factory changes up the traditional meaty version by wrapping lettuce leaves around quinoa and avocados for a plant-based ssam, seasoning the veggies with Korean chili powder. A strawberry-based sauce made with gochujang adds more spice and a crunchy slaw provides textural contrast.
Spicy strawberry ssam sauce
2/3 cup (4 oz.) strawberries, diced
¼ cup diced onion
2½ tbsp. gochujang
4 tsp. honey
4 tsp. sesame oil
2 tsp. tamari soy sauce
2 tsp. seasoned rice vinegar
2 tsp. Korean fermented soybean paste or miso paste
¾ tsp. seasame seeds
1 tbsp. minced fresh garlic
½ tsp. kosher salt
Crunchy almond slaw
4 cups thinly sliced Napa cabbage
7 tbsp. sliced or slivered almonds
6 tbsp. julienned red bell peppers
6 tbsp. julienned Persian cucumber
6 tbsp. sliced green onions
6 tbsp. julienned carrots
¼ cup sliced shishito peppers
1½ tsp. grated lime zest
1 ½ tsp. minced cilantro
1 tbsp. fresh lime juice
¾ tsp. kosher salt
¾ tsp. sugar
6 large ripe avocados, quartered with peel intact
1 tbsp. canola oil
1 tbsp. kosher salt
1½ tsp. sugar
1½ tsp. Korean chili powder
24 butter lettuce leaves
6 cups (12 oz.) red quinoa, cooked and cooled
Lime wedges, for garnish
1. For spicy strawberry ssam sauce, combine all ingredients in blender container; puree until smooth, 1 to 1½ minutes. Pour into container; cover and refrigerate up to 3 days.
2. For crunchy almond slaw, combine first 9 ingredients in mixing bowl. Pour lime juice over mixture; add salt and sugar; toss to incorporate. Let slaw stand for at least 20 minutes before serving or refrigerate up to 12 hours.
3. For ssam, per order, heat grill over high heat. Whisk oil, salt, sugar and chili powder in medium bowl. Gently toss 2 avocado quarters in oil mixture to coat well.
4. Place unpeeled avocado quarters on hot grill and cook until grill marks appear, about 1½ minutes per side. Remove from grill.
5. On individual plate, place 2 butter lettuce leaves; spoon ¼ cup quinoa on lettuce and drizzle with 2 tsp. strawberry ssam sauce. Peel grilled avocado quarters and place one quarter on each lettuce leaf, grill-side up. Mound ¼ cup crunchy almond slaw around each avocado quarter. Serve with additional ssam sauce and lime wedges.
Photo courtesy of California Avocado Commission