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Add kimchi to give tacos a twist

Korean-style grilled beef and vegetables on crisp tortillas make a delightful Asian-inspired meal.
Korean-style grilled beef and vegetables on crisp tortillas make a delightful Asian-inspired meal.

You’re no doubt familiar with the many authentic Mexican-style tacos available at local taquerias, including al pastor (layers of adobo-marinated meat), al carbon (grilled meats), de guisados (casseroles), carnitas (pork cooked in its own fat) and charrales (fish).

Korean tacos, however, are less-common Midwestern fare.

The fusion delicacy originated in California under the auspices of Kogi, an L.A.-based taco/Korean barbecue truck that has attracted a legion of loyal Twitter followers and Facebook fans. It’s also captured the attention of publications such as Bon Appetit and Time.

Kogi creator Roy Choi taught director/actor Jon Favreau how to chop, dice and slice with precision in the food truck-themed movie “Chef,” which was released this year.

Kogi’s Korean taco is reported to combine traditional beef bulgogi, a sesame-soy marinated barbecue beef that is either grilled or pan-cooked, then topped with kimchi, spicy fermented cabbage.

The Star’s Korean-Style Grilled Beef and Vegetables on Crisp Tortillas uses ready-made kimchi available in the refrigerator section of some supermarket produce sections. Using low-sodium soy sauce further reduces the amount of sodium in this recipe.

Plan ahead: The meat needs to marinate for
4 to 8 hours.

Shopping tip: Read the label on the kimchi since various brands have differing amounts of sodium. Kimchi is a fermented, spicy Korean condiment made of cabbage. It is fairly high in sodium, so read the label, drain well and realize that using a little adds a lot of flavor.

Serving tip: If desired, top each tortilla with 2 to 3 tablespoons finely shredded romaine lettuce or Napa cabbage, then top with sliced meat and grilled vegetables.

Korean-style Grilled Beef and Vegetables on Crisp Tortillas

Makes: 6 servings

1½ pounds boneless beef sirloin or top round, cut about 3⁄4-inch thick

1 tablespoon rice vinegar

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon sesame oil

1¼ teaspoons sugar, divided

3⁄4 teaspoon pepper, divided

¼ teaspoon cayenne, or to taste, divided

6 thin corn tortillas, about 6 inches in diameter

2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce

2 tablespoons lime juice

2 red or green peppers, seeded and quartered

1 sweet onion, cut in ½-inch slices

1/3 cup coarsely chopped cilantro

6 tablespoons kimchi, drained

Place meat in a zip-top bag. Combine rice vinegar, garlic, sesame oil, ¼ teaspoon sugar, ¼ teaspoon pepper and 1⁄8 teaspoon cayenne. Pour marinade over beef, seal and marinate in refrigerator for 4 to 8 hours.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place tortillas flat, in a single layer on a large baking sheet. Spray corn tortillas with nonstick cooking spray. Bake 5 to 6 minutes or until crisp.

Combine remaining 1 teaspoon sugar, ½ teaspoon pepper, and 1⁄8 teaspoon cayenne. Blend in soy sauce and lime juice. Set aside.

Preheat grill to medium-high or allow coals to burn down to white ash. Drain meat and discard marinade. Grill meat 5 to 7 minutes per side or until meat thermometer registers 160 degrees for medium doneness. Meanwhile, spray both sides of peppers and onion slices with nonstick spray and grill 3 to 5 minutes per side or until charred and tender. Remove meat and vegetables to a cutting board, cover with aluminum foil and allow to stand 5 to 10 minutes.

Remove charred pieces of skin from peppers. Slice peppers and onions into thin strips. Cut meat across grain into thin strips.

To serve, place a crisp tortilla on each plate. Arrange meat strips over tortillas, then top each with about ¼ cup sliced, grilled vegetables and 1 tablespoon cilantro. Drizzle with 2 teaspoons lime juice mixture each. Top each with 1 tablespoon kimchi.

Per serving: 349 calories (45 percent from fat), 17 g total fat (6 g saturated), 84 mg cholesterol, 20 g carbohydrates, 28 g protein, 310 mg sodium, 3 g dietary fiber

Recipe developed for The Star by professional home economists Kathryn Moore and Roxanne Wyss

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