Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Kogi-Inspired Bulgogi Tacos with Spicy Slaw

When I went out of town last weekend I instructed Alex to eat leftovers and use up some ground beef we had defrosted.  I thought he was going to make some tacos (as in the type that comes in the Old El Paso kit with the taco sauce, taco seasoning, and hard taco shells).  Alex likes those box kit tacos, but it's usually a fairly hard sell to get me to indulge because I would rather have shrimp tacos or fish tacos.  Or if I have to have beef tacos, how about skirt steak tacos?  Since this was his one opportunity to have ghetto box tacos without having to sell me on it first, I was pretty surprised when Alex told me that instead of box tacos, he was making bulgogi tacos from a recipe he found online.  Then again, Alex loves Korean food so I guess I shouldn't have been all that surprised.

So I brought in some of the leftovers for lunch today and was actually pretty impressed.  Go Alex!  The tacos are pretty delicious.  Now, I say all that with one caveat.  You absolutely have to make the slaw and you have to serve your tacos with a decent serving of slaw on top.  The slaw is really what makes the tacos so good.  The beef is good - slightly sweet, with just a hint of sesame oil.  But if you have it by itself it's kind of dry and boring.  And you wouldn't immediately realize that the tacos are supposed to be Asian-influenced.  But when you add in the slaw, you get much needed moisture, all kinds of flavor, a little bit of spice and a nice crunchy texture.  I really liked the addition of the ginger in the slaw because it really brightens the dish up.  For some reason I wasn't digging the flour tortillas, which I don't think really go with the tacos.  But I'm not sure what alternatives exist.  I think corn tortillas (and hard taco shells) wouldn't work at all.  Maybe just some lettuce to make ssams?  Flour tortillas are probably the best option, but maybe I will try eating more of the leftover meat as a ssam and see how that goes.  Alex's take on the tacos was that they were tasty and relatively easy to make.  He said (and I agree) that they reminded him of the burritos from the Korilla BBQ truck.  Actually, another option with the ground beef and slaw is to make it into a burrito with some rice, etc.  Apparently I should leave Alex at home alone for the weekend more often because when I do yummy leftover lunches await.

Recipe after the jump!

Kogi-Inspired Bulgogi Tacos with Spicy Slaw
Adapted from Serious Eats

For the bulgogi:
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tsp sesame oil
2 small cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp mirin
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 1/2 lbs ground beef
1 small yellow onion, sliced thinly
3 scallions, cut into 1-inch pieces
For the spicy slaw:
1 Napa cabbage, thinly sliced
1 tbsp salt
2 tbsp fish sauce
2 tbsp white vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons Korean chile flakes or hot red pepper flakes
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon ginger, minced
1 tsp sugar
3 scallions, thinly sliced
1 tsp sesame seeds
3 tbsp mayo
Warm flour tortillas, to serve

In a large mixing bowl, add the soy sauce, sesame oil, garlic, brown sugar, mirin and black pepper, and whisk. Add the ground beef, onions and scallions then mix gently until the sauce is incorporated into the meat.  Allow beef to marinate, covered, in the refrigerator for 2-3 hours

Sprinkle the salt on the cabbage and toss. Let stand for 20 minutes. Rinse with cold water and squeeze as much excess water out as possible.  Drain well. Set aside.

Mix together the fish sauce, vinegar, chile flakes, garlic, ginger, sugar, scallions and sesame seeds in a small bowl.  In a large mixing bowl, toss the cabbage with the fish sauce mixture and mayo until well-coated.  Refrigerate, covered, for one hour.
Bring a pan to medium-high heat, and cook the meat until browned and most of the liquid has evaporated, around 10 minutes.

Top flour tortillas with ground beef mixture and slaw.  Serve.

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