Korean barbecue is, frankly, a family obsession. When my parents first moved to Colorado from Hawaii before I was born, they had a hard time finding a Korean restaurant that matched the ones they loved back in Hawaii. After some time being frustrated by that, my dad started researching how to make delicious Korean food himself.
One part that took the most time was learning how to make the perfect marinade. Korean barbecue features a lot of pungent, savory flavors, but there’s also a factor of fruity sweetness. For a while, my dad would try to achieve that by adding in some applesauce, but that didn’t quite fit the bill. Finally, a restauranteur he befriended (who makes some of the best Korean short ribs I’ve ever had) gave him the perfect tip.
Puréed pears. That’s what goes into a traditional marinade, and if you get the pears in the baby food jars, it’s a huge time saver.
The results are delicious enough on their own, but I’ve found that Korean and Mexican food make an incredible combination. Both cuisines are known for their huge flavors and their spice, and they come together beautifully in recipes like these Korean BBQ Tacos.
As a side note about the kimchi, it comes in a number of varieties—cabbage, cucumbers (my personal favorite, though it’s harder to find), mild, spicy, vegan, or even some kinds with seafood. If you don’t live somewhere with a large Asian population, you may have to do some digging to find it. Most Asian markets will have at least a couple varieties, but if those aren’t available, your best bet will be to look at the larger grocery stores.
Korean BBQ Tacos
- 7 TBSP soy sauce
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 5 TBSP sugar
- 2 stems green onions, chopped
- 2/3 of a yellow onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1/4 cup puréed pears
- 2 tsp sesame oil
- 1 lb shaved steak
6 oz kimchi cabbage
12 taco-sized corn tortillas
Put the soy sauce, black pepper, sugar, green onions, yellow onion, garlic, puréed pears, and sesame oil in a food processor. Pulse together until well-combined. Pour over the steak in a resealable bag, making sure the meat is evenly coated, and refrigerate for about 2 or 3 hours.
Put a large, heavy sauté pan on high heat. In 3 batches, cook the steak with the marinade for about 3 minutes per batch, occasionally turning until evenly browned. Place the finished steak in a bowl covered with foil until you finish cooking all the batches to keep it warm.
To assemble the tacos, heat up the tortillas in either a skillet or the microwave. Put a layer of steak in the middle of the tortilla, and top with the kimchi. Serve with black or pinto beans.
Serves up to 6.