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Korean Lettuce Salad (Romaine Sangchu Geotjeori)

by Emily
Romaine Sangchu Geotjeori: Korean Lettuce Salad

Korean romaine lettuce salad, otherwise known as romaine sangchu geotjeori in Korean, is an extremely quick and easy side dish to eat with your home-cooked Korean meal! The salad tastes a little bit sweet from the honey, smoky from the sesame oil, and spicy from the gochugaru. 

In January, while people begin to work on their New Year’s resolutions by setting goals and promising to accomplish more, I snuggle in to try to survive the cold months. Typically, instead of setting goals in January, I wait until spring when I come out of hibernation. So, during the coldest months of the year, I focus on making healthy recipes that are extremely quick and easy. I’m sure I am not the only one who prefers to stay curled up during the winter! 

Korean food becomes my best friend on extremely cold days. Rice typically takes 30 minutes to make–so, I try to make dinner in that short amount of time. While the rice cooks, I make a quick stew (such as doenjang jjigae) and set out pre-made banchan (such as kimchi or maneul jangajji). Then, while the stew boils and the rice continues to cook, I make a fresh and green salad. Romaine sangchu geotjeori is my favorite Korean lettuce salad of late! 

Like I said, I like quick and easy recipes that take 30 minutes or less! Korean lettuce salad takes approximately 5 minutes to prep.    

Korean lettuce salad piled onto a bowl.
Korean Lettuce Salad

Tips for Romaine Sangchu Geotjeori (Korean Lettuce Salad)

Below is everything you need to know when making our Korean lettuce salad. If we left anything out or you have any questions, feel free to leave comments below. We will get right back to you! So, let’s get started! 

What Is Romaine Sangchu Geotjeori? 

Sangchu translates and refers to green or red leaf lettuce unless a different type of lettuce is specified. For our salad, we use romaine. So, Koreans will know and understand our salad as ‘romaine sangchu geotjeori.’ 

Geotjeori refers to a kimchi that’s made to eat fresh without fermentation. “Geot” translates to out or outer and “jeori” translates to something salted or pickled

You only quickly pickle the outside of the ingredients instead of allowing the dressing to completely penetrate over time. 

As such, you can think of our romaine sangchu geotjeori as a quick kimchi OR a Korean lettuce salad. Both are accurate. 

Note: Sangchu geotjeori is meant to be eaten with rice as a side dish. Please remember you usually do not eat this as a main salad. The dressing is quite salty; if you want these flavors as a main salad, cut the dressing in half and use low sodium soy sauce.

Can You Make Korean Lettuce Salad in Advance? 

You may ask, why don’t you make the sangchu geotjeori ahead like other banchan recipes? When planning your banchan, always check the recipe to understand the prep time and how long each one keeps in the fridge. 

Bird-eye shot of Korean romaine salad in a wooden bowl.
Do You Like Korean Lettuce Salad With Your Barbecue?
  • First, you have the side dishes you must make in advance. These take a long time to ferment or preserve. Examples include kimchi and maneul jangajji (pickled garlic). Typically, these keep for an indefinite amount of time in the fridge.
  • Second, you have side dishes you can make at the start of the week. Often, families prepare side dishes during the weekend to consume at every meal. Examples include gaji namul (steamed eggplant) and kkaennip jangajji (marinated perilla leaves). These keep for 3-5 days in the fridge. 
  • Finally, there are side dishes that you must make right before serving. If you make these in advance, the freshness and flavor disappear. Sangchu geotjeori does not last well as the lettuce wilts from the dressing when kept in the fridge. 

Though you shouldn’t make Korean lettuce salad in advance, you can make a large batch of the dressing and keep it in the fridge. This way, you don’t need to continuously make the dressing if you plan to eat the salad often throughout the week. 

Romaine Sangchu Geotjeori Ingredients 

Depending on your mood, you may want to change up your salad. The most basic Korean lettuce salad simply has lettuce underneath all of the dressing. In our family, we enjoy eating it with a thinly sliced yellow onion as well. Below are the ingredients we use for our salad as well as some further ingredients for different variations. If you add other ingredients, we still recommend our simple salad dressing. 

  • Romaine lettuce: When making Korean lettuce salad, you can use any type of leafy green. I enjoy romaine because of its crisp and crunchy texture. It takes longer for salad dressing to make romaine wilt. 
  • Yellow Onion: Thinly sliced onion adds a depth of flavor and texture to the salad. I know that raw onion can taste extremely strong. So, let me tell you a little trick. Often, professional chefs soak raw onions in water for a while. This soaking process helps eliminate some of the pungent flavors that make raw onion harder to eat. 
A bowl of onions soaked in water.
First, Soak Your Onions in Water.
  • (Optional) Perilla Leaf: In Korea, perilla leaves are a common ingredient. Outside of Korea, you may find it difficult to locate these greens. Try finding perilla leaves at your local Asian grocery store such as H-Mart, or you can try growing your own at home by planting the seeds. The perilla leaf has a fresh and slightly spicy taste. They are part of the mint family! 
  • (Optional) Other Leafy Greens: If you are interested in a mixed green salad, try adding other types of lettuce. I also recommend red and green leaf lettuce. 
  • (Optional) Green Onion: If yellow onions are too strong, we recommend using thinly sliced green onions. Green onions are not as pungent and astringent as the yellow onion alternative but still give that strong flavor with a mild sweetness.

How to You Store Your Korean Lettuce Salad

Honestly, we do not recommend storing leftover Korean lettuce salad after your meal. By the next day, your Korean lettuce salad won’t be crispy and fresh. Your lettuce will have unfortunately wilted into a soggy mess. 

Make a Bowl Big Enough to Share! Tongs serving Korean lettuce salad
Make a Bowl Big Enough to Share!

Instead, when having a large party, slice a lot of romaine lettuce and set aside. Also, prepare a large batch of the dressing in a separate bowl. That way, when you run out of Korean lettuce salad on your table, simply run back to the kitchen and pour over and mix in some dressing over your pre-cut salad fixings. You can continue to do this throughout the night without your salad getting soggy. Also, your cut romaine lettuce will remain crispy in the fridge overnight! 

No one likes soggy salad! I hope this helps when prepping for Korean barbecue parties! 

What Do You Eat With Korean Lettuce Salad? 

In our family, we love Korean lettuce salad as a side to samgyeopsal and other types of Korean barbecue. This salad is often served with Korean barbecue at restaurants as well. So, if you ever eat out at BBQ joints, you may have tried a type of sangchu geotjeori before. Korean lettuce salad tastes delicious next to seared pork belly, ssamjang, rice, and a delicious stew.

If you want to have a Korean barbecue party at home, we recommend you check out our blog post about Korean pork cuts. It can give you a lot of information regarding the cuts of meat to buy.

Let Us Know if You Enjoy Our Salad!
Let Us Know if You Enjoy Our Salad!

Depending on our mood, we serve the different sides at our Korean barbecue parties. Here are some recipes we use that are available on our blog: 

How Do You Enjoy Korean Lettuce Salad?

Do you enjoy Korean barbecue? If so, try making our Korean lettuce salad recipe. If you do, let us know in the comments below or via email at [email protected]. We love hearing from you! 

Also, we love hearing from you through our social media as well! You can follow us at @carvingajourney on InstagramTwitterFacebook, and Pinterest. Also, you can subscribe to our blog by joining our mailing list.

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Korean Lettuce Salad (Romaine Sangchu Geotjeori)

Recipe by Emily
5.0 from 1 vote
Course: RecipesCuisine: KoreanDifficulty: Easy


Prep time


Cooking time




  • Salad
  • 1 Medium Yellow Onion

  • 1 Head Romaine Lettuce

  • Optional Ingredients: Perilla Leaves, Green Onions, Other Leafy Greens

  • Salad Dressing
  • 3 TBSP Soy Sauce

  • 2 TBSP Gochugaru

  • 2 TBSP Honey

  • 1 TBSP Sesame Oil

  • 2 Cloves Minced Garlic

  • 2 TBSP Vinegar

  • 2 TBSP Sesame Seeds


  • Thinly slice yellow onion and soak in a bowl of cold water. While the onion soaks, wash and chop the lettuce. Dry the lettuce and set in a bowl.
  • Combine the soy sauce, gochugaru, honey, sesame oil, minced garlic, vinegar, and sesame seeds together in a bowl. Mix together until fully combined.
  • Remove the sliced onions from the bowl of water. Pat dry to remove moisture. Place onions in the bowl with the lettuce.
  • Once the rest of the meal is prepared a set on the table, pour the dressing over the lettuce and onions. Fully mix together and serve in a bowl on the table. Enjoy!
  • Optional: If you want perilla leaves, green onions, or other types of lettuce, add those ingredients to your taste.

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