Korean Tacos

Look, I just put Korean and Taco together in the title, so we’ve pretty much taken authenticity off the table, right?  I’ve been reading about these for months – they started out as  street food in Los Angeles and have found their way across the country all the way to New York City, at least if you believe the New York Times, which I do.  They’ve even found their way onto the California Pizza Kitchen menu and this I know for a fact because I had them for lunch there today.  (For the record, mine are much, much better, and I don’t say that carelessly about CPK food because I love pretty much everything they make.)

Now I’m not claiming these are better than korillabbq or kogibbq because I’ve never tried theirs, but I can tell you the entire family went crazy for these and that includes the carnivores and the vegetarian.   Be brave.  Try these.

Korean Tacos
inspired by a slew of recipes, including several from the New York Times and Steamy Kitchen

Corn Tortillas
Korean Barbecued Meat (Pork, or Chicken) or Tofu
Cabbage Slaw
Pickled Onion, Cucumber, and Cilantro Relish
Sambal Oelek Sauce (optional)
Steamed Rice (optional)

Heat corn tortillas on a cast iron pan until warm.  Assemble tacos by placing some meat (or tofu)  in each tortilla.  Top with cabbage slaw, relish, sambal oelek sauce, and rice (if using).  Fold and eat, and be sure to keep plenty of napkins close by.


Prepare marinade by pureeing in a blender of food processor the following:
½ cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons sesame oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
¼ cup brown sugar
4 tablespoons mirin
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1 pear, peeled and roughly chopped

About one hour before serving, place marinade in a Ziploc bag.  Add:

1 1/2 pounds of pork tenderloin, or boneless skinless chicken breast,very thinly sliced on the bias.  Squeeze excess air from bag and place in refrigerator until ready to cook. 

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat.  Add a small amount of vegetable oil to lightly coat bottom of pan. Saute meat in small batches until golden brown on all sides, replenishing oil as necessary. Set aside.

Cabbage Slaw (fake kimchi):

Whisk until well blended:
¼ cup soy sauce
¼ cup white vinegar
¼ cup sugar
1 tablespoons sesame oil
2 tablespoons lime juice
½ teaspoon sambal oelek (Asian garlic-chili sauce, available at most grocery stores, including Stop and Shop)
1 tablespoon sesame oil

In a large mixing bowl combine:
4 cups of napa cabbage, thinly chopped
2 to 3 tablespoons chopped cilantro
2 to 3 tablespoons thinly sliced green onions

Just before serving, toss cabbage mixture with several tablespoons vinaigrette.

Pickled Onion, Cucumber, and Cilantro Relish
½ cup red wine vinegar
½ cup cold water
2 tablespoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon sugar
2 or 3 dashes of Tabasco
1 red onion, very thinly sliced
1/4 cup paper-thin slices of English cucumber
3 tablespons chopped cilantro

Combine vinegar and cold water.  Whisk in kosher salt, sugar and Tabasco.  Add the onions and let them sit for at least one hour, bur preferably overnight.  (These also keep in the refrigerator for several weeks and get better over time) 

Just before serving, add English cucumber and  cilantro to onions.  Stir to combine.

Sambal Oelek Sauce:
Whisk together:
¼ cup mayonnaise
½ to 1 teaspoon sambal oelek sauce
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice

 Notes on the recipe:

-I prefer pork tenderloin, but I’m sure beef would be good instead.  Let me know if you try it.  
-For the vegetarian I marinated cubed tofu instead of meat, and then gently warmed it in a saucepan. We all loved the tofu.
-Romaine lettuce is a good substitute for the napa cabbage.
-Some recipes I found called for shredded Monterrey Jack cheese.  I disagree.  Vehemently.  


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