Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Korean Tacos

I'm not a follower of trends; never have been. (Skinny jeans? Ugh, no thank you.) I prefer the tried-and-true basics, the classics that will never go out of style. Food is also subject to trends. 10 years ago you'd have been hard-pressed to find a cupcake outside of a kindergarden birthday party. Fast-forward to today, where gourmet cupcake shops can be found in every city, charging $3 and up for the kiddie confections! What's the newest culinary must-have? According to newspapers and food blogs nationwide, it's the Korean taco.

Korean tacos, a mash-up of Korean and Mexican fare, usually involve marinated "kogi" (Korean for meat) that's been grilled and served in a tortilla, although pork is gaining a following too. Restaurants and food trucks serve them with their own spin; some stay traditional and add only onion or cilantro, while others make cabbage slaws, mango relishes or kimchee purees to top them off.

As luck would have it, my mother-in-law dropped off a package of beef earlier this week. In typical Korean-grocery-store cryptic fashion, it only said "Sliced Chuck." Good enough, I thought - I don't need fancy short ribs for Korean tacos. Any old thinly-sliced (and therefore easily marinating) beef would do. It was pretty, though - nicely marbled, perfectly sliced ... this could be a tasty experiment!

I decided for the first run of Korean tacos, we'd go rustic: just kogi, onions, and cilantro in corn tortillas. I thought maybe it could use a tiny bump in both color and spice, so I threw together a quick Korean taco sauce. The result: delicious, simple, satisfying, and a natural melding of two food cultures. This is one trend I'm glad I followed!

Korean Tacos

  • 1/2 cup apple juice
  • 1/8 cup soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil
  • 2 or 3 cloves of garlic, minced very fine
  • 1 small onion, finely sliced
  • 1/2 pound finely sliced chuck (you can use another cut of beef and slice as thin as possible at home)
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 1/2 red onion, sliced very thin
  • small corn tortillas

  1. Place the first six ingredients in a Ziplock bag, squish around to combine, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, but 24 hours is preferable.
  2.  Grill or fry the beef (discarding the marinade, but feel free to cook up any onion slices or garlic chunks you can fish out.) Depending on the thickness of your meat, this could take anywhere from 2 minutes per side to longer, like if you marinated a flank steak.
  3. Warm the tortillas quickly in a dry saute pan over low heat, and top with meat, cilantro and onions. You can give it a squirt of regular hot sauce, or you can try my Korean version:
  • 1/2 teaspoon Korean hot pepper paste (gochujang) or more, if you're brave
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
Whisk the ingredients together and enjoy on your trendy kogi tacos!


  1. I'm such a loser - your blog posts didn't start showing up in my feed until a week ago, so I'm just getting caught up!

    I'll have to try this recipe, I've only made the "cheater version", courtesy of Trader Joe's :). And I'll definitely make the sauce for J, though I suspect he would just smear the hot pepper paste directly on his tacos.

    1. ... Did you end up making them? And did Jason make the sauce or just eat a grip of gochujang and call it good?