Student Suppers: Korean Barbecue-Style Steak Tacos
It is no surprise with the amount of time I’ve spent in Los Angeles over the past few years that some big Southern Californian influences have found their way into my cooking, including an overwhelming love for Korean and Mexican flavours. When I was putting together the final instalment of my ‘SoCal Sunshine Suppers‘ series this Summer for Borough Market inspired by the month I spent in L.A. in the Spring, I knew that the only thing I could chose to make by way of a finale was Korean Barbecue Tacos.
Now, I’m very aware that making full on authentic Korean (and actually Mexican) food involves an awful lot of time both in the cooking and preparation, and in fact in the hunting down of all the specialist ingredients you need, some of which don’t always come cheap. So, the reason I’ve called these tacos ‘Korean Barbecue-style’ is that I wanted to create something that was quick, easy and economical (perfect when you’re entertaining, or for the students among you if you want to impress when you head back next month) and evoked Korean and Mexican flavours, but could actually be made with ingredients that you’ll probably already have to hand if you do any amount of Asian cooking at home.
The only ingredient that I do ask that you stop off at an Asian grocery for is kimchee; it really is one of the stars of the dish, but these days it is pretty easy to find, and a big pouch or jar of it, kept in the fridge will go for miles. As well as using it in Korean dishes, I also find it a great throw in for fried rice when I’m trying to use up some leftovers, and a nice spicy edition to noodle soup. If you are quite the kimchee fan like me, you can also try your hand at making your own.
The meat is pretty simple. Two big or three small steaks between three to four of you, marinated for as long before you plan to eat that you actually remember to do it (but preferably overnight) in a marinade that literally just takes minutes to make. Barbecue and base, leave to rest, slice into thin strips against the grain, pour the resting juices back over and serve as the centrepiece to your feast. You can also cook the meat in a griddle pan if barbecue is not your forte, or you’re reading this, you live in Britain and it is raining.
Now, lets talk about garnishes. Very thinly sliced radishes add sharpness, crunch and flavour. I was given this mandolin for Christmas and I’ve really found it a great addition to my kitchen and means I can create a massive pile of radish slices like this in moments. Spring onion thinly shredded is also a must, and Korean barbecue is always served with a lot of lettuce – if you’re not making tacos, Korean barbecue is traditionally served in a lettuce wrap. You don’t need to make a special dressing, juice from the kimchee jar is perfect. Finally, add those small sized flour wraps or corn taco tortillas, and a bottle of sriracha hot sauce for the table.
One thing I have missed out is the dipping sauce. A curiosity of Korean Barbecue I discovered dining at Soot Bull Jeep in Koreatown is that you dip your cooked meat in a tart dipping sauce before adding various accoutrements to serve. I tried to make my sauce also reflect other things that come with Korean barbecue such as fermented soy bean paste, and I’m rather please with how it turned out, if I may say so myself.
You can find the full recipe and method for the marinated steak and the accompaniments I’ve shown here over on the Borough Market blog. Also, you can find the other two recipes from my Summer series, my Barbecue Corn on the Cob with Miso, Coriander and Lime Butter and my Cherry, Hazelnut and Mint Salad with Hazelnut Vinaigrette which goes perfectly with chilled red wine and barbecue steaks also by clicking through.