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February 20, 2011

Korean Pulled Pork Tacos

Korean tacos are pretty much the new banh mi. There's no Kogi BBQ truck in NYC, but there are several places around the boroughs where you can indulge in Korean tacos, and the number is only increasing. Korean tacos, they're so hot right now. This may come as a shocker, but I have yet to try proper Korean tacos. But, thanks to Google, I think I put together an acceptable version.

A coworker of mine recently made this delicious brisket in her slow cooker, and that made me want to dust off my crock pot and put it into use. I was debating between a pulled pork and a green curry pork. AMN recommended that I go with the pulled pork, since it would be more versatile, and I agreed with his suggestion.

At first, I thought I would just make Mexican-style tacos. But as I was writing my grocery shopping list, I received a fateful phone call from my mother. She called to check up on my kimchi supply, and reminded me that I had about 10 cups of overfermented kimchi. "Better make some kimchi stew," she said. But, I wasn't in the mood for kimchi stew, as delicious as it can be. Why not throw the kimchi into some tacos instead! I'd never had Korean tacos before, but I imagined that they would taste similar to ssam, with a tortilla instead of a piece of leafy green.

For the pork, I needed a very simple recipe that would not overpower the flavors of the spicy sauce I wanted to make. So, I turned to Momofuku for a very simple salt and sugar rub, which they use for the pork shoulder in their ramen and their bo ssam. The smallest pork shoulder at my local store was a 9-lber, so I had to break it down to fit it into my 4-quart slow cooker. Other than that, the pork required very little active time, and the garnishes also came together very quickly.

I assembled each corn tortilla with pulled pork, Kogi BBQ sauce, sriracha sauce, thin slices of green onion, kimchi, and a Korean lettuce salad. Nom nom.

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork Shoulder
Adapted from the Momofuku cookbook

For 24+ tacos

1 whole 8- to 10-pound bone-in pork shoulder or Boston pork butt
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup coarse salt

1. Mix together the sugar and salt in a bowl, and rub the mixture into the meat; discard any excess salt and sugar mixture. Place in a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and put it into the fridge for at least 6 hours, or overnight.
2. Remove the pork from the fridge and discard any juices that have accumulated. Put the pork in a slow cooker and cook on low for 8 hours, or until the pork shreds easily. Remove the pork onto a baking sheet to cool and shred.

Kogi BBQ Sauce
Adapted from Steamy Kitchen

For 12 tacos

2 tablespoons Korean fermented hot pepper paste (gochujang)
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon rice wine vinegar
2 teaspoons sesame oil

1. Mix all the ingredients together until smooth and sugar has dissolved.

Korean Lettuce Salad
Adapted from Asian Enticement

For 10 tacos

3 cups romaine lettuce, shredded into quarter inch strips
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon sesame seeds
1 teaspoon Korean red pepper flakes

1. Mix the soy sause, sesame oil, sugar, sesame seeds, and red pepper flakes. Pour over lettuce and mix gently.


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