Makes 8 tacos, serves 4
Born out of Los Angeles’ Koreatown, kimchi tacos—which substitute the fiery flavors of kimchi for the traditional salsa—epitomize the city’s hipster food scene. L.A. chef Roy Choi popped up with his Kogi taco truck in 2008, and wherever the truck went, fans would follow, stalking its whereabouts on Twitter and flocking to the truck like teenage groupies running after Jon Bon Jovi’s limo in the ’80s. Roy was right to bring his fusion tacos to the neighborhood; L.A. is home to the largest concentration of Koreans outside of Asia, but even more Hispanics live in Koreatown than Koreans! So you see, tortillas and kimchi were destined to become good friends. What could be more authentically fusion?
You Will Need
In a small bowl, make the taco sauce by combining the sugar, gochujang, soy sauce, sesame oil, and rice vinegar. Stir well and set aside.
Heat a charcoal or gas grill and oil the grate. Sear the beef to medium-rare, about 2 minutes on each side; then let it rest for 5 minutes. Slice the meat diagonally across the grain into ½-inchthick pieces.
Heat the tortillas by wrapping them in a clean damp towel and microwaving them for 30 seconds, or by giving them a quick turn on the grill, about 30 seconds per side.
Divide the meat pieces among the warmed tortillas. To serve, top each one with kimchi, taco sauce, chopped cilantro, and a squeeze of lime.
Makes about 1 Gallon
Even though most kimchi is fermented, it is also delicious fresh. This recipe makes a big batch so that you can have some right away and then store the rest to ferment over time. You will need a big plastic basin or maybe a bucket to make it, or even use your sink or bathtub to supersize it. Of course you can also make smaller batches if you like by halving the recipe. The cabbage will wilt dramatically once it’s been salted. The Korean chile pepper flakes, gochugaru, which I use liberally, are made by drying Korean red chile peppers in the sun, then seeding and crushing them into flakes. The bright red pepper flakes look fiery and intimidating, but they are actually milder than they appear, which is why I use them by the cupful.
Kimchi’s character changes over time as it ferments in the refrig¬erator. This kimchi is delicious eaten right away as a fresh and crunchy side salad that’s perfect in Kimchi Tacos (recipe follows) or with rice and sunny-side-up fried eggs as a simple lunch. As the kimchi ferments, it will continue to sour and wilt, becoming more suitable for use in stews like Seafood Soondubu with Kimchi (recipe follows).
Place the sliced cabbage in a large bowl and add water to cover. Add the salt, stir to combine, and soak for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes, until the cabbage starts to wilt.
Meanwhile, bring 2 cups of water to a boil in a small saucepan, and stir in the glutinous rice flour until well combined. Stir in the sugar, and simmer until the mixture forms a thick porridge. Set aside to cool.
To make the gochujang chili paste, pour the glutinous rice mixture into a large bowl. Add the fish sauce, garlic, ginger, and gochugaru flakes and mix together. Set aside.
Drain the salted cabbage, rinse it under cool running water, and then squeeze out any excess water. In a very large container, combine the drained cabbage with the daikon, carrot, onion, scallions, and leeks. If you want a stronger umami flavor in the kimchi, stir the dried anchovies or shrimp into the cabbage. Stir in the gochujang to coat the vegetables completely. Sprinkle the sesame seeds on top to serve.
Pack the leftover kimchi into several large jars, leaving a little room on the top for some natural bubbling as the fermentation process takes place.