Trend watch: Korean-style ribs
If you live in the L.A. area—or even if you don’t—you might have heard the buzz about the Korean-style tacos at Kogi BBQ, made from sweet-and-spicy barbecued beef or pork topped with tangy condiments and rolled up in a warm tortilla. The runaway success of Kogi BBQ’s tacos is inspiring imitators to offer their own versions of Korean-inspired tacos and burritos, and now a slew of spots specializing in this tasty hybrid invention are opening up around the country. Want to preview the trend at home? It’s easy.
First, order and cook up some Korean-style ribs from Allen Brothers. (Personally, when I’m not making Korean tacos, I love to eat these ribs all on their own, or with just white rice and a salad on the side.) Inspired by traditional marinated Korean ribs, known as kalbi, they’re incredibly juicy beef short ribs, soaked in a flavorful marinade made from soy sauce, sesame oil, sugar, garlic, ginger, rice-wine vinegar, and pears: spicy-sweet, and fall-off-the-bone tender. Whenever I serve the ribs to friends, they practically fly off the plate— and the same thing happens when I use the ribs to make my own at-home version of Korean tacos.
To make Korean-style tacos, all you have to do is:
1) Thaw the ribs for 30 minutes before cooking them, then heat up two teaspoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-heat, until the oil is nearly smoking. Then cook the ribs for two minutes on each side.
2) Now slice the beef off the bone, place the thinly cut pieces on a flour tortilla that you’ve heated in a pan for 45 seconds on each side, and top with a small dollop of good-quality store-bought kimchi, a tangy Korean condiment made with any combination of cabbage, carrots, and radishes pickled with ginger and garlic; you can easily find kimchi at well-stocked stores like Whole Foods. Then, add a few pieces of shredded romaine lettuce on top, squirt some hot sauce (such as Sriracha) if you like your taco extra-spicy, and roll up the tortilla. Done. Delicious.
3) Alternatively, you can top the beef with a sweet-and-tart homemade cucumber salad instead of kimchi. All you do is: Thinly slice up a cucumber into 1/16th-inch rounds, then cut the rounds in half and place them in a bowl; add 1 ½ teaspoons salt, and let sit for 20 minutes; then drain and pat the cucumber pieces dry. Now stir in 1 tablespoon rice vinegar, 1 ½ teaspoons sugar, ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, and ½ teaspoon dark sesame oil. Mix well, and spoon the cucumber salad over the beef on the tortilla. Roll up the taco and dive in.
Instead of a tortilla, you can also roll up the beef in a lettuce leaf—another popular way of eating Korean barbecued meat—and add whichever of the condiments above you love most.
Pure decadence, and you don’t even have to fly to Korea or L.A., or stand in line, or wait for a Korean taco spot to open near you. The only problem? These ribs are seriously addictive. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!