The Korean Taco is the rare fusion recipe that not only works, it works FLAWLESSLY.
Originating in a food truck out of LA, this is street food that hits every flavor profile – spicy, salty, sweet, herbaceous and umami all caressing your palate in a single bite.
Korean tacos are a Korean-Mexican fusion dish popular in a number of urban areas in the United States and Canada.
Korean tacos originated in Los Angeles, often as street food, consisting of Korean-style fillings, such as bulgogi and kimchi, placed on top of small traditional Mexican corn tortillas. Korean burritos are a similarly themed dish, using larger flour tortillas as a wrap.
Although nearly any savory dish can, has, and will be used as filling for a taco, burrito, or wrap, and other restaurants have occasionally served dishes they called Korean tacos, the popularity of the dish is generally traced to the use of Twitter by the proprietors of the Kogi Korean BBQ, a food truck in Los Angeles, California, to announce their schedule and itinerary.
The idea of making Korean tacos came to owner Mark Manguera after an unsuccessful search of Los Angeles’ Koreatown for carne asada tacos. In its first year of operation, Kogi generated an estimated $2 million of revenue.
Korean taco trucks later appeared in Portland, Oregon (the “KOI Fusion” truck), Austin, Texas (the Chi’Lantro BBQ truck), and Seattle, Washington (“Marination Mobile”, whose spicy pork Korean taco earned them Good Morning America’s Best Food Truck in America).
In San Francisco the dish was popularized in 2009 by Namu Restaurant’s Happy Belly food cart in Golden Gate Park, later moving to a farmers market food stand at the San Francisco Ferry Building.
The dish’s popularity led mainstream fast food chain Baja Fresh to test market Korean tacos as a menu item in California, with plans to introduce the dish to hundreds of locations nationwide.
By 2010, restaurants and food trucks serving Korean tacos had appeared across the country including Austin, Chicago, St. Louis, Washington, DC and throughout the East Coast of the United States.
In April 2010, Food & Wine magazine named Roy Choi, the chef of the original Kogi’s, one of its annual “Best New Chefs”. It was the first time a food truck chef had been nominated for the award.
I wish I could say this was my recipe – but it’s not. It’s from the Lady and Pups blog and is a truly stellar attempt at recreating the secret recipe of the original truck. I have made only two minor changes, noted in the recipe below.
I hope you enjoy this, my citizens – it is truly toothsome. 🙂 Enjoy it with this other classic Korean dish for a complete and delicious meal!
Battle on – The GeneralissimoPrint
- Beef Short Ribs and Marinade:
- 1 ¼ pounds of beef short ribs
- 5 cloves of garlic
- 1 piece of ginger about the size of 1 tbsp
- ¼ medium-size onion
- ½ small Asian pear
- ½ kiwi, or a small tangerine
- 4 tbsp of soy sauce
- 2 tbsp of toasted sesame oil
- 2 tbsp of Korean chili paste gochujang
- 2 ½ tbsp of honey
- 1 tbsp of palm sugar (or substitute with dark brown sugar if unavailable)
- 1 tbsp of sake, or rice wine
- ½ tsp of toasted sesame seeds
- ½ tsp of Korean chili flakes
- ½ tsp of sea salt
- ½ tsp of rice vinegar
- ¼ tsp of ground white pepper
- ¼ tsp of ground black pepper
- To finish:
- 1 ½ tbsp of sriracha sauce
- Salad and Dressing:
- 1 head of romaine lettuce
- 4 baby radishes
- 2 shallots
- ½ tomato
- (you could also add thinly sliced cabbage)
- ½ tsp of chili flakes
- ½ tsp of toasted sesame seeds
- 2 cloves of garlic, finely grated
- ½ tsp of lime zest
- 2 tsp of sushi rice vinegar
- 1 ½ tbsp of toasted sesame oil
- Pinch of sea salt
- 1 cup chopped cilantro (TFD Addition)
- To Finish:
- 12 flour tortillas
- Sambal oelek (Asian garlic chili sauce)
- Lime for squeezing
- Chopped cilantro to taste (TFD Addition)
- Cut the short ribs into bite-size pieces but in VERY IRREGULAR shapes, meaning pieces bigger or smaller than the others with pointy edges and deep scores. What this does is it will create different degrees of textures and points of deep caramelization during cooking. Place in a large zip-lock bag and set aside.
- Combine all the rest of the ingredients in marinate in a blender, EXCEPT FOR the sriracha sauce. Blend until very smooth. Pour everything into the zip-lock bag and rub thoroughly to make sure every pieces of beef is in contact with the marinate. Leave it in the fridge to marinate for at least overnight.
- Before cooking the meat, prepare the salad and steam the tortilla.
- Cut the romaine lettuce in thin slices. Shave the baby radishes and shallots through a fine shaver (a truffle shaver is very handy for this job). Cut the tomato in half and use your fingers to squeeze out the liquid and seeds, then dice finely. Add cilantro, combine all of the above with chili flakes and toasted sesame in a big bowl.
- Grate the garlic (microplane grater works well here) and combine it with lime zest, vinegar, sesame oil and a pinch of sea salt. Set aside. ONLY add the vinaigrette to the greens RIGHT BEFORE serving.
- Put tortillas on a plate and cover with foil. Steam in a steamer for 3 min to heat up. Turn off the heat and keep them warm in the steamer.
- Heat up a NON-STICK, flat and shallow pan over high heat. The reason why it’s important that it’s non-stick is because we want the caramelization on the meat to STAY ON the meat, NOT sticking to the bottom of the pan which is great for pan sauce but… that’s not today. Add 1 tbsp of oil and start pan-frying the meats, try NOT to include too much liquid from the marinate otherwise it would be hard to brown. Cook the meat in 2~3 batches and do not over-crowd the pan. Each pieces of meat should have at least ½″ (2cm) of space between each other. Don’t move them too much because we want a good amount of browning on each pieces. Cook until each and every piece of beef is nicely browned with dark caramelization on the tips. Move them out of the pan with a slotted spoon and repeat with the 2nd batch.
- Once all the meat is nicely browned and cooked, put all of it in a large bowl. Use a scissor to roughly cut them up, then add 1 ½ tbsp of sriracha sauce and toss to combine.
- Add the vinaigrette to the greens and toss evenly. Lay 1 tortilla (or 2 as how the Kogi truck does it) on a plate, then top it with the short ribs and lots of salad. Squeeze a bit of lime over the top, add cilantro to taste and serve. You could add the garlic chili sauce for more heat.
- Category: Recipes
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