Categories
barbecue beef Korean recipes street food

Korean BBQ Tacos

Kalbi Tacos v2.0
Kalbi Taco (actual size at 1440×900 MacBook Pro resolution)

Korean BBQ tacos have been a street food phenomenon since LA’s Kogi BBQ trucks started drawing hundreds of hungry Angelenos to street corners around Southern California. Kogi’s popularity spawned a blatant knock-off, inspired others to start their own mobile food ventures, and compelled other Korean establishments to add Korean tacos to their menus, such as SF’s Seoul on Wheels, Namu, and John’s Snack and Deli, and NY’s Seoul Station). For food bloggers, creating our own version of the dish we don’t have easy access to becomes a fun little project.

Seoul on Wheels - Korean Tacos
Seoul on Wheels’ Korean tacos at Oakland’s Eat Real Fest 2009.

I set out trying to emulate the famous Kogi taco, and this led me in several directions. I focused specifically on kalbi tacos since I’ve always been a big fan of grilled Korean short ribs. In the past, I’ve relied on jarred marinades, but this time I wanted to make one from scratch. I put out a call for recipes on both Twitter and Facebook, and my friend Kevyn came through with an excellent kalbi marinade. Feel free to use your favorite kalbi recipe if you have one.

The question of corn v. flour tortillas doesn’t exist here because tacos should ALWAYS be on corn tortillas, but tortilla size is an important issue. I used 4-inch tortillas because it makes the tacos easy to pick up and eat one handed. However, the smallest tortilla that is carried by most mainstream American supermarkets is 6 inches in diameter, which I generally find too big and unwieldy for taqueria-style or street tacos. If you have Mexican market nearby, 4-inch tortillas shouldn’t be hard to find.

Figuring out the rest of the taco required a lot more research. I started at SteamyKitchen.com and Jaden’s recipe for Korean-style Kogi Tacos, which includes a BBQ sauce recipe developed for her by Kogi Chef Roy Choi. The Kogi BBQ sauce is intended to go with pork or chicken, but I think it works really well to balance out the rest of flavors in the taco. Tasty Eats at Home did her own version of Korean tacos, and I used her cilantro-red onion relish for this recipe. I like the color and flavor that the red onion provides over brown or yellow onions. The last major topping is napa cabbage/romaine slaw dressed with a chili-soy vinaigrette that I lifted from the New York Times.

I ended up making the tacos based on the recipe that follows three times, and by the third time, we pretty much had all the logistics down. I also made some other Korean taco variations a few days ago, and you can see those at the end of the post.

INGREDIENTS AND RECIPES
4-5 pounds of flanken-style short ribs
4-inch corn tortillas, 1 bag (at least 40)

Kalbi Marinade
adapted from a recipe by Kevyn Miyata
(for 4-5 lbs of short ribs)

1½ cups soy sauce
¼ cup sugar
¼ cup honey
¼ cup sesame oil
8-10 cloves of fresh garlic, crushed
6 large green onions, roughly chopped
1 Asian or Korean Pear (½ roughly chopped, ½ sliced then mashed by hand)
Toasted sesame seeds

Combine all ingredients except meat in a bowl and mix well. In a one gallon ZipLoc bag, combine meat and marinade. Let sit for 24-36 hours, flipping over the bag every 12 hours or so to ensure the marinade is distributed evenly.

Kogi BBQ Sauce
adapted from Steamy Kitchen
3 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp gochujang (Korean fermented hot pepper paste)
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp rice vinegar
Sriracha to taste (optional)

Whisk together all the ingredients. If desired, add Sriracha a few drops at a time to the sauce until it’s hot enough for ya. :) If you have one, put sauce in a squeeze bottle to make taco assembly more efficient.

Cilantro-Onion Relish
adapted from Tasty Eats at Home
½ red onion, minced
1 tsp rice wine vinegar
1 tbsp cilantro
Juice of 1 lime
Pinch or two of salt

Add onions and rice wine vinegar in a bowl. Allow to sit for about 5-10 minutes. Drain and rinse. Add rest of ingredients to onions and stir to combine.

Napa/Romaine Slaw with Chili-Soy Vinaigrette
dressing recipe from The New York Times
2 cups Napa cabbage, shredded
4 cups Romaine lettuce, shredded
¼ cup soy sauce
2 tsp rice vinegar
1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
2 small jalapenos, seeded and minced
1 tsp minced fresh ginger

Whisk together the soy, vinegar, garlic, jalapenos and ginger and set aside. Combine Napa and Romaine in a bowl until mixed well. You should have a nice green/white color contrast. For best results, divide slaw into batches and dress each batch as needed so that the greens don’t get soggy.

DIRECTIONS

  1. Grill short ribs about a minute per side on a really hot grill.
    Grilling Kalbi
  2. Separate the kalbi meat from the bones and gristle. Cut the meat it into strips lengthwise, then turn 90-degrees and dicing the meat into a “brunoise” of kalbi, if you will. :) If you like the gristle, I’d separate that from the bones and dice it up too. Set the meat aside in a bowl until there’s enough meat to start making tacos en masse.
    Kalbi "brunoise" :P
    Kalbi “brunoise”

    OPTION: After all the meat is diced up, you can either use it straight away or refry it to caramelize the meat so that each piece has a little crunch to it. This extra step is also good if you’re going to use the gristle since it lets it break down a lot more. I’ve done it both ways, and the extra caramelization is really nice.

  3. Heat a lightly oiled cast iron skillet over medium heat. Toast tortillas 30-45 seconds on each side and set aside. Working with a partner or two in an assembly line works great here so tacos can be made right after toasting.
  4. Start assembling the tacos by putting a little meat in the tortilla, then top with a bit of the cilantro-red onion relish, a little slaw, a little more cilantro-onion relish, and then drizzle a little BBQ sauce to finish. We eyeballed all of these amounts, but don’t overstuff the taco or else it will too hard to pick up and eat. You can arrange about eight tacos per plate.
    Kalbi Tacos

VARIATIONS

  • Replace the cilantro-onion relish with a pickled radish/carrot salad (known colloquially as “mu,” if anyone knows what this is actually called in Korean, I’d love to know.) This was my second-favorite version of the taco that we made.
    Bulgogi Tacos 2.0
  • To go even more Korean, I stole an idea from my friend Euge and blended up a jar of kimchi to make a Korean salsa that replaced the Kogi BBQ sauce. I’m not a big kimchi eater, but I liked this a lot. If you like kimchi, this is a great alternative.
    Bulgogi Taco

I’m not sure how many tacos this actually makes because we’ve never had to use all the meat for tacos, and it’s never a bad thing to have extra kalbi around. :) I do know that you can get at least 40 tacos out of 4-5 pounds of meat. You can easily scale this recipe down for your own needs, but I was cooking for parties and needed a lot of food.

Categories
barbecue chicken Filipino

Filipino Barbecue Skewers

One of my most enduring food memories is grubbing on skewer after skewer of Filipino Barbecue, but it wasn’t until my friend asked me to cook for her son’s 2nd birthday yesterday that I even thought of making it myself.

Filipino BBQ Chicken SkewersChicken Skewers

Filipino Barbecue is usually made with pork or chicken. and the marinade is a combination of salty, sweet and citrus components. Many recipes call for 7-Up or Sprite, which works as a sweetener and tenderizer. I found a recipe that I liked and made some adjustments and additions to come up with this marinade. I’ll probably tweak this a bit more when I make it again, but here’s what I used yesterday.

Filipino Barbecue Marinade
1 cup soy sauce
1 head garlic, minced
1 onion, finely chopped
3 tablespoons of kalamansi juice or lemon juice
1 cup of lemon-lime soda
2 cups of tanglad (lemon grass) for whole chicken
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper.
3 tablespoons of brown or white sugar

This marinade works best with a 2-3 pounds of chicken or pork cut into cubes. If you use chicken, my preference is for thighs, but breast meat should work fine if you don’t like dark meat. It’s best to marinate the meat for only a couple hours instead of overnight, and then skewer the meat and grill it until it’s done.

Categories
barbecue musings

Smoking Flower Pot — Assembly

Sorry for not getting these up sooner, but I wasn’t able to get to it until yesterday, when I did some more pulled pork. I was inspired a couple blogs when I was figuring this out, but especially Dave Naffziger’s instructions for getting the heating element controls out of the smoker.


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I picked up a 20-inch terra cotta pot at Plant and Pottery Outlet in Sunol, CA, which is just down the freeway from me. Their selection of terra cotta pots is much larger than anywhere else I looked (Home Depot, Lowes, OSH), and the pots they carry are much thicker, which helps them retain heat a lot better. I got a 20-inch bowl to serve as the lid. Total cost: $56.00.

Inside the pot, I got a standard, 18-inch Weber cooking grate, which fits perfectly inside the 20-inch pot. To hold the wood chunks, I used a large deep-dish pie pan from a bygone Chicago-style pizza experiment. The pan sits right on the heating element, which is a deconstructed electric hot plate that I picked up for $10 at Walgreens.

One challenge of this setup is that adding wood chips or chunks becomes an issue because you’re bound to let out a lot of the heat when you remove the lid. I get around this by using only wood chunks, which don’t burn up as fast as wood chips. For meat that needs to cook longer, like pulled pork or brisket, you can simply finish cooking in the oven when the smoke dies down.

The main challenge is figuring out how to keep the temperature steady. I found that by turning the dial to medium high, I could get between 230–240F pretty consistently. From there you kinda have to baby it if you want cook at a lower temperature. I recently ordered a remote wireless thermometer with two temperature probes, which should help me both monitor what I’m cooking, as well as the temperature of the smoker.

Categories
barbecue pork recipes sauces

Pulled Pork (and Smoking Flower Pots)

My Lazy Barbecue posts (beef ribs and tri-tip) were an easy and convenient way to make barbecue in an oven, but it also stoked my dormant curiosity about smoking meats…with real smoke. We’re technically not allowed to grill or barbecue where we live, so I started looking for ways to build a smoker that didn’t look so conspicuous. Google eventually led me to an old episode of Alton Brown’s Good Eats where he made a smoker out of a terra cotta flower pot and bowl and an electric hot plate. I’ll write more about the smoker in another post since i want this one to focus on this:


Pulled Pork and Baby Back Ribs

(I’ll talk about the ribs some other time…let’s just discuss the pulled pork.)

Making pulled pork is pretty simple. For this attempt, I coated the entire pork butt with yellow mustard and then sprinkled the meat with a barbecue spice rub and let sit in the refrigerator uncovered for 18 hours. Generally, pork butt is smoked for more than 12 hours at a fairly low temperature (usu. between 225-250F) until the meat reaches a temperature of 195F.

From what I’ve read, the meat stops “absorbing” smoke at around the 3–4 hour mark and any time after that just adds to the smokey bark that accumulates on the meat. Since I was using an electric hot plate and didn’t want to leave it on overnight, I smoked the meat for around 4 hours at an average temp of 240F and then double wrapped it in heavy duty foil and put it in a 225F oven to finish.

The total cooking time was around 16 hours, and after I took it out of the oven, I put it in an empty ice chest where it rested until I was ready to pull the pork and serve it. Here’s what it looked like after removing it from the foil. The “gap” in the meat is where the shoulder bone used to be.


Finished Pork Butt

Categories
barbecue beef recipes ribs

Lazy Barbecue — Oven Beef Ribs

This installment of Lazy Barbecue is all about beef ribs. Now, I love a good rack of baby back ribs, and it’s no secret that I love me some beef short ribs (see here, here, here, here, and here). I’ve even written about making Cook’s Illustrated’s Texas-Style BBQ Beef Ribs, but this version is a little easier.

I did these ribs two different ways. One batch was kept in slab form and cooked for around six hours. The end result was fall-off-the-bone ribs, which tasted great, but I wanted ribs with a firmer texture. The ribs were so tender that it was actually a challenge to keep the slab intact for this picture.


Beef Ribs on the plate

The second batch of ribs I tried were cut into individual pieces and cooked for only three hours. These ribs were great because they were the exact texture that I wanted, and it allowed me to pick up the rib and eat it right off the bone.

Final Product

The constants with both batches of ribs were applying Texas Best Barbecue Spice Rub to the ribs before curing them overnight in the refrigerator, the cooking temperature (225F), and basting them with Texas Best Barbecue Sauce about 30 min before taking them out of the oven. You can use any rub and sauce you want, but if you can get your hands on the Texas Best rub or sauce, it’ll feel a little more “real” won’t it?

Categories
barbecue beef recipes

Lazy Barbecue — Oven Tri Tip

No marinades. No drowning meat in sauces. Just meat, a good spice rub, and the oven. This is about as easy as good food gets.


Beef Tri Tip

We’re not allowed to grill or barbecue where I live, so this technique is perfect for us. It’s also great for lazy cooks since you can use a digital probe thermometer to tell you when the meat reaches the right temperature.

INGREDIENTS
Your favorite spice rub
1 beef tri tip (any size)

  1. Sprinkle rub on all sides of the tri tip and let stand at room temperature for at least an hour. I suppose you could do this overnight, as well, but make sure tri tip is at room temperature before you start cooking.
  2. Preheat oven to 400 F
  3. Sear both sides of the tri tip, fat side first, approximately 5 minutes per side
  4. After searing, place meat fat side up on a rack set on a foil-lined cookie sheet.
  5. Place in oven and cook until the internal temperature is 125 degrees. (I had my digital probe thermometer in the tri tip, so I didn’t really keep track of time, but it was somewhere between 20-30 minutes.)
  6. When meat reaches temperature, remove from oven and wrap in foil, resting for 10 minutes before slicing. The meat will continue to cook and you should end up with a medium rare/medium tri tip.
  7. To serve, slice tri tip against the grain into 1/4-1/2 inch thick slices. Serve with your favorite BBQ sauce.

NOTES
I used a BBQ Spice Rub and BBQ Sauce from Texas Best. Texas Best BBQ Sauce was top rated by Cook’s Illustrated magazine a few years ago, but it was impossible to find because they had ceased operations. A couple months ago, Texas Best resurrected itself is now back in business. Check them out at www.texasbestbarbequesauce.com.

Categories
barbecue dessert drinks Filipino pork reviews sandwiches Southern California

The Oinkster

The OinksterWhen I’m home in SoCal, heading out to Eagle Rock isn’t normally on the agenda, especially for food. But when some friends told me about The Oinkster’s house-cured pastrami sandwiches and ube milk shakes, Eagle Rock started sounding mighty nice.

The Oinkster is the brainchild of Andre Guerrero, a Filipino American chef who’s a veteran of the Southern California restaurant scene. His other restaurant, Max in Sherman Oaks, offers contemporary Pan-Asian fine dining that’s a stark contrast to The Oinkster’s laid-back, order-at-the-counter vibe. (We also took my parents to Max for a Mother’s/Father’s Day dinner, so basically it was an Andre Guerrero weekend.) We ended up going to Oinkster twice in four days and were able to try a good cross section of the menu.

The Oinkster Pastrami sandwich is a thing of beauty—pastrami with Gruyere and a red cabbage slaw. The pastrami is cured for two weeks (the old-fashioned way) according to a recipe Guerrero developed over a period of two years. It’s not a melt-in-your-mouth pastrami like they have at Katz’s in New York, but it’s definitely the some of best pastrami I’ve had on the West Coast.


Oinkster Pastrami

Aside from the sandwiches, the pastrami also tops the Royale burger, and it’s also featured in their excellent chili. If you’re from Southern California, you’ve likely had a chiliburger at one of the many Original Tommy’s hamburger stands that are down here. Tommy’s chili is legendary in L.A., so it may be blasphemous of me to say this, but…The Oink’s chili is so much better. In fact, I don’t know what I really saw in Tommy’s chili other than the novelty of it. I went back to Tommy’s with my wife a few months ago, and on its own, the chili reminded me of dog food. It really needs to be paired with fries or a burger. The Oink’s chili can definitely stand on it’s own, and it has a freshness that you’ll never get from Tommy’s chili.

Categories
barbecue Best of Inuyaki fried chicken fried rice recipes ribs

Arroz con Tres Carnes

Okay, so I made up this name, but it definitely fits this dish. As evidenced by my previous post on Prime Rib Garlic Fried Rice, we’ll make fried rice out of any leftover meat. This time, we had three very different meats—homemade Ad Hoc fried chicken, oven-smoked baby back ribs, and Pollo Oregano from Mi Lindo Peru—and the combination was great!


three meats

My wife took all the meats, chopped them finely and then fried them in a little vegetable oil to heat through. In addition to the plain white rice that was in the fridge for a couple days, some leftover rice from the Mi Lindo Peru leftovers helped gave the fried rice another subtle flavor. She added the rice to the wok, with some salt and pepper and some chopped green onion. The ribs had some Stubb’s Original Barbecue sauce on them, which added another dimension to the fried rice. Here’s the final product:


Arroz con Tres Carnes

I added some more Stubb’s to the fried rice and mixed it around, and it was perfect. The bits of crispy fried chicken with the smoky ribs was an awesome combination. It’s one of the best versions of fried rice my wife has ever made.


Fried Rice with Three Meats
Viva Arroz con Tres Carnes!

Categories
barbecue recipes ribs

Oven-smoked Baby Back Ribs

Is it possible to make smokey, flavorful baby back ribs in your oven? You bet!

Use lapsang souchong tea to impart a smokey flavor to the ribs. Steven Raichlen’s basic barbecue rub recipe and Stubb’s Original Barbecue Sauce helped finish these ribs. We served these ribs with Ad Hoc Fried Chicken for our friend’s daughter’s birthday dinner.

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INGREDIENTS
1 slab of baby back ribs
1/2 cup apple juice
1/2 cup finely ground lapsang souchong tea

Steven Raichlen’s Basic Barbecue Rub
3 tablespoons sweet paprika
3 tablespoons brown sugar (light or dark)
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh ground pepper
1 tablespoon garlic salt
1 tablespoon onion salt
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano

Place all ingredients in a bowl and use a whisk to mix them together. Use your fingers to break up any lumps in the rub. You can store this rub in an airtight jar for at least 6 months.

DIRECTIONS

  1. Coat both sides of the ribs liberally with the Raichlen’s rub, then wrap ribs in plastic and refrigerate for at least 8 hours and up to 24 hours.
  2. Adjust one oven rack to lowest position and second rack to upper-middle position (at least 5 inches below broiler). Place pizza stone on lower rack.
  3. When you’re ready to cook the ribs, preheat oven to 500 degrees and place a pizza stone on the lower rack of the oven. then transfer ribs from refrigerator to freezer for 45 minutes.
  4. Line a rimmed baking sheet with at least two layers of aluminum foil
  5. Use a spice grinder to grind the lapsang souchong tea. Spread the ground tea evenly on the bottom of the baking sheet.
  6. Place a wire rack or roasting rack above the ground tea so that ribs are elevated above baking sheet
  7. Remove ribs from freezer and place on wire rack meat side up.
  8. Cover ribs with foil so that they are completely sealed. See smoker setup diagram at right.
  9. Place ribs in oven directly on the rack or a pre-heated pizza stone.
    (Image from Cook’s Illustrated).
  10. Cook ribs for 30 minutes at 500 degrees.
  11. Reduce heat to 250 degrees. Leave oven open for a minute to cool it down. While oven is open, carefully open one corner of foil and pour apple juice into bottom of baking sheet and reseal foil.
  12. Cook ribs for about 90 minutes (check them after an hour). When the meat is done, it will have shrunk, exposing about 1/2 to 1 inch of bone.
  13. Remove foil and carefully flip racks bone side up; place baking sheet on upper-middle oven rack. Turn on broiler; cook ribs until well browned and crispy in spots, 5 to 10 minutes. Flip ribs meat side up and cook until well browned and crispy, 5 to 7 minutes more.
  14. Glaze meat with barbecue sauce and return to oven for a 2-3 more minutes.
  15. Cool for at least 10 minutes before cutting into individual ribs. Serve with barbecue sauce, if desired.
Categories
Ad Hoc barbecue Best of Inuyaki reviews ribs Thomas Keller

Ad Hoc (09.17.07)

The next stop on our second anniversary dinner tour was an impromptu booking at Ad Hoc in Yountville. We were just in Yountville two days before eating at Bouchon, but our actual anniversary was on Monday, Sept. 17, and we hadn’t made formal plans for that evening yet. I told my wife that if the Ad Hoc menu was compelling enough, then I would get us a reservation, and we would drive back up to Yountville for our “real” anniversary dinner.

Now, we’ve been to Ad Hoc a lot the last three months (five including our anniversary visit), and well, it’s starting to look like an obsession isn’t it? But I wonder…how many times in three months do you go to your favorite restaurant? Would it make a difference if it was 75 miles away?

I called Ad Hoc a little after midnight the night before so I could hear the menu, and it was compelling, to say the least. Let’s just say the word “Wagyu” jumped out at me.


Brentwood Pole Bean Salad
yellow wax and romano beans, haricots verts
toybox tomatoes, red radishes
and walnut vinaigrette

~

Texas Style Barbecue
snake river farms wagyu beef brisket, pork spare ribs
andouille sausage, creamed corn and baked russet potatoes

~

Zingerman’s Bridgewater Round
fresh strawberries
crushed pistachios

~

Chocolate Ice Cream S’Mores
house marshmallow, caramel sauce

Salad is almost a throwaway course in a prix fixe setting, but at Ad Hoc, sometimes the salad can upstage the main course, especially when bacon lardons are involved. The bean salad was great despite the lack of lardons, but I will say that Ad Hoc is the one place where I actually love to eat my vegetables.

Even though everything’s family style and the menu is prix fixe, there’s still usually a bit of a wait between courses, and I actually enjoy and usually need these gaps. It not only helps my body process the previous course so that it’s ready to accept more food, it allows you time to have a conversation, maybe drink a little wine or beer, and most of all relax. This concept can be confounding if you’re used to eating at restaurants where turning over tables is a priority and the food is served as fast as possible, but I’ve never felt rushed eating at Ad Hoc, and the slower pace is nice because it prevents you from gorging yourself.



The main course was a trifecta of amazing meats—Wagyu beef brisket, spare ribs, andouille sausage—served with creamed corn and baked russet potatoes (bacon makes its lone appearance here as super salty and crunchy bacon bits). The brisket, from Snake River Farms, was cold smoked for 14 hours and finished with a nice, peppery crust, and well…they had me at first bite. The extra marbling of the Wagyu beef helps give this brisket a little more fatty flavor to enhance its inherent beefiness and set this apart from any other brisket I’ve tried. I really need to go to Texas for some traditional barbecued beef brisket to have a proper reference point so I can compare it to Ad Hoc’s ridiculously good version of it.

The spare ribs were prepared sous vide in duck fat for 20 hours or so and then lightly glazed and finished on the grill. Now, I’m not fan of spare ribs because most of the time, they’re not trimmed properly and I find them difficult to eat. These spare ribs were awesome. The meat had a nice bite but was still easily removed from the bone, and the rich flavor was a mystery until I found out about the duck fat. The andouille sausage was good, too, but since the focal point for me was the brisket, it was sort of relegated to stepchild status. The meal was served with a nice house barbecue sauce that was sort of sweet with a subtle kick to it. It was really nice because it complemented the meat without overpowering any other flavors, but I didn’t really use much because the meat was so good that it didn’t need it.

The cheese course was my least favorite of all the cheese courses I’ve had at Ad Hoc. (The best included some charcuterie and cryovacked cantaloupe). I didn’t mind though as I was still coming down from the meat high I got from the brisket and started looking forward to dessert.

The Chocolate Ice Cream S’mores were a refined take on an American campground classic. A housemade graham cracker serves as a foundation for a delicious marshmallow “brulee” with chocolate ice cream taking the place of the traditional Hershey’s squares. The staff at Ad Hoc was nice enough to put candles in our desserts and wish us a Happy Anniversary. If you go to any restaurant enough, they’re going to remember you, especially if you give them glowing reviews at places like Yelp.com. Ad Hoc is no exception; they’re really good at taking care of their customers and remembering the ones that return.

Thanks, Ad Hoc, for a wonderful anniversary dinner, and I’ll see you again on another Monday in October for my birthday and fried chicken night!

INFORMATION
Ad Hoc
6476 Washington St.
Yountville, CA 94599 map
707.944.2487