I remember my first experience with Korean barbecue. Friends and former colleagues took me to Ottawa’s Korean Gardens on Rideau Street (470), then under previous ownership. There, we negotiated a table for four and grilled pieces of meat and coarsely chopped vegetables on a gas-powered grill inset into the table. We ate our freshly grilled bounty with sweet sticky rice and banchan sides. I fell in love with kimchi.
A friend warned me not to dress in my best finery, despite the dinner being a farewell one. Fat from the meat and oil from the vegetables hissed and popped on the grill, imparting characteristic flavours and aromas. The aromas, however, can be difficult to wash from clothes.
Both new initiates and experienced diners enjoyed the evening immensely. Korean barbecue isn’t for everyone, though.
@ottawamag (Jan 31, 04:51 PM)
Never “got” the Korean DIY hotpot craze, either RT @DrBourrie @ottawamag If I want to cook my own steaks, I know just the place to do it.
@foodiePrints (Jan 31, 04:55 PM)
@ottawamag I think you’re referring to Korean barbecue! But Korean hotpot is good too! cc @DrBourrie
Ottawa Magazine Editor Sarah Brown later qualified her tweet,
@ottawamag (Feb 01, 09:35 AM)
@foodiePrints @digitaljoy I’m just too lazy to get the point of DIY eating! – SB
Why do-it-yourself (DIY)? Because, fondue-style meals, be they Korean Barbecue, Japanese shabu-shabu (variants also known as Mongolian hot pot), or Quebec raclette, create a jovial atmosphere unlike any other. There is an intimacy when you dine out with friends, no matter if the dishes are communal or individual plates. This intimacy deepens when a meal is interactive, becoming even more friendly and lively. Fondue-style meals provide a catalyst for conversation.
Some of my favourite meals were had with friends and family over a steaming pot of broth, slowly bubbling away on an induction burner.
So, the following tacos are a homage to my first Korean barbecue meal.
First-off, I chose not to employ more tender boneless cuts of beef to slice, marinate, and then grill. I decided to pick up a package of beef intercostals, also called “finger” meat. This non-premium cut is popular for making an oriental stew with daikon and bean curd. Me, I wasn’t about to de-bone the short rib the Food and Drink magazine’s recipe calls for. At least, not for tacos. Besides, beef intercostals are essentially the meat between the side ribs.
What You’ll Need:
- 3 cloves of garlic
- 1 medium onion
- 1 large Asian (nashi) or anjou pear
- 1 cup of soy sauce (light, not dark, mushroom, or sweet)
- 2 tbsp sugar (preferably raw or yellow sugar)
- 1 tbsp oil (sesame is best, light olive oil works…)
- 3 tbsp of inexpensive brandy (don’t reach for the cognac for this recipe, seriously!)
- 2 tbsp mirin
- 1/2 cup orange juice
- 2 lb of beef intercostals (whole)
- beer or brandy to braise with
- taco fixings…
Prep (warning: minimum 5 hours of inactive time):
- Mince the garlic and place it into a metal bowl that will hold both the marinade and beef.
- Slice or “French” the onion and place it into the bowl.
- Core and shred the pear, adding it to the bowl.
- Add the soy, sugar, oil, brandy, mirin, and orange juice to the bowl.
- Mix everything together and place the beef into the marinade.
- Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place everything into the fridge for 2 hours or overnight.
- Once marinated, drain the liquid from the onion, pear, and meat.
- Discard the liquid.
- Place the meat and remaining aromatics into the crock of a slow cooker.
- Add approximately 1 cm of beer or brandy to the crock.
- Braise the meat on low for 3 hours.
- Grill the meat on medium-high heat, 2 minutes on each side (2 turns).
- Slice the meat on the bias, across the grain.
- Assemble your tacos with warmed flour or corn tortillas, serve, and, for the love of all that is good and holy, eat with your fingers!
For us, we topped the tacos with apple-fried onions (two medium onions, Frenched, and sweated on medium-low with a cored and shredded apple, a pinch of salt, a tbsp of sugar, and lots of freshly ground black pepper), raw young heirloom carrots, raw thinly sliced cucumbers, raw scallions, and Thai-sweet chili sauce (adulterated with 4 muddled red bird’s eye chiles).
And yes, the onions, apple, cucumber and carrots were purchased from local vendors at the Parkdale Farmers’ Market. We are so very spoiled to have a market that opens 7 days/week just steps away from our little condo.
The deeply savoury beef, both smoky and salty, went very well with the freshness of the vegetables. Normally, shredded carrots are fried with beef bulgogi. I thought our supply of heirloom ones would taste better raw with the braised and grilled beef.
Everything worked, the sheer variety of flavours and textures. This isn’t boring food!
Got a taco request? With two weeks left until my wedding, I may be able to fit one more taco project in.
Paulaner Hefe-Weissbier is a fantastic wheat that has many levels of flavour, not unlike the marinade for bulgogi. The sweetness of banana, clove spice and faint bubble gum flavours compliment the sweetened marinade while the lemony hop bitterness opens and livens the palate.
Tags: crock pot, farmers' market, featured, Korean, Parkdale Market, slow cooked, taco, TacoThursday