Dining In: Korean-Style Tacos

April 8, 2012 § 1 Comment

Spring is a time of cleansing for many. In the Ilk household that includes a good cleansing of all the meat that accumulates in our garage freezer over the winter. Gotta make room for all the bottles of vodka somehow, right?

Thursday afternoon Mrs Ilk informed me that I had a few pounds of short ribs left out there that needed to get used before they got turned into an unrecognizable frozen mass. With an early onset of warm weather this year, I really didn’t want to use them to make a hearty stew or chili, because that would probably doom us to six more weeks of winter. So I thought to myself “what else can I do with short ribs?” The answer quickly ran me over faster than a line of hipsters scrambling to a food truck in Los Angeles. It was time to try my hands at Korean tacos.

Instead of frantically scouring the Internet for recipes, this one was as easy as picking up the phone. I had the pleasure of spending the past 12 weeks while I was working in NY sitting across from a foodie named Dan. Not only can the guy tell you where to get the best pizza/pasta/Chinese/Middle Eastern/Malaysian food in proximity to any of the five boroughs, but he’s also quite the cook. A cook who happens to be married to a Korean. So from my basement bunker at 3:58 the day before the holiday, I rang him. I assumed he feared the worst – that I had some kind of nagging work issue he was going to have to spend 45 minutes puzzling over instead of heading home.

Conversation went something like this:

Dan: “Dude.”

Ilk: “Man.”

Dan: “Bro.”

Ilk: “Homey.”

Dan: “Homeslice.”

Ilk: “Bruh, I need to make some Korean tacos. Need tips and figured you were the man.”

Dan: “Yeah kid, I got your back. Soy sauce, Korean pear juice, sesame oil, red pepper flakes, ginger, garlic, jalapenos, you can slice up some apples, pears and onions too. Enjoy.”

Ilk: “Thanks broskillet. Peace out.”

I scribbled it all down in usual illegible fashion on a notepad and then got to thinking. The only thing I was really concerned about was the Korean pear juice. So it was off to the Asian market in Westmont, where my search for Korean pear juice turned up fruitless. However I did learn that 4 year olds and live fish tanks don’t mix: (click to enlarge because I have no idea how to crop)

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This was as close as he would get. Seriously.

I didn’t want to miss one minute of online Masters coverage, so rather than scour the Western suburbs for other Asian markets I decided to just use apple juice instead. I slapped the marinade together and let it brew overnight, meat went in first thing the next morning. Braised the meat in the afternoon and stuffed the face in the evening. Results were extremely tasty, but could probably benefit from a bit more spice.

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Here’s how it all came together:

What you need:

For the meat:

5 lbs shortribs

For the marinade:

2/3 c soy sauce

1/3 c Korean pear juice (or boring old apple juice)

4 tsp minced garlic

2 tsp minced ginger

2 tsp sriracha

2-3 shakes red pepper flakes

1 can of pickled jalapenos, drained

1 onion, sliced

1 apple, sliced

1 pear, sliced

Combine all the marinade ingredients into a giant bowl and mix well. Put shortribs into airtight container or gigantic Ziploc bag, pour marinade over. Let them marinate for anywhere from 6 hours (we did 8) to overnight.

Preheat oven to 325.

Pour a couple tablespoons of olive oil into a Dutch oven and coat the bottom thoroughly. Heat to medium high on the stovetop, and then sear the short ribs on all sides until browned, about 5 minutes.  Pour marinade over the meat and put into oven covered for 90 minutes or so. We have a pretty big Dutch oven, so I had to dump another 1/2 c or so of the soy/juice mixture in to cover the ribs adequately. (Internet research tells me that for braising, you want the meat about 1/3 to 1/2 covered).

After 90 minutes, remove the cover from the Dutch oven and braise uncovered for another 20-30 minutes. By this point most of the ribs should be completely detached from the bone and bobbing up and down in the juice like a bunch of meaty icebergs. Remove meat from oven. Detach meat from bones when necessary and chop/shred the meat into small pieces.

Serve on warmed tortillas with garnishes. We went with a simple mixture of kimchee and fresh grated radishes, but feel free to add any other sort of pickled goodness you desire, and enjoy.

Bonus and wholly unrelated pro tip for those of you who’ve read this far: Make mimosas with Semi-secco Cava. You’ll thank me later.

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