Kimchi tacos. Yep. You heard right. Taco night will never be the same after you’ve noshed on these spicy, saucy, fusion cuisine tacos. Tender beef short ribs are marinated bulgogi-style, grilled to perfection, tucked into corn tortillas, and smothered with kimchi as well as a spicy Korean taco sauce along with all your fave taco fixings. Almost as incredible as the taste of these Korean beef tacos is the fact that it’s incredibly easy to prep all the components in advance, so when hunger (or guests) strike, everything is ready and waiting. All you have to do is grill the meat at the last moment, let folks assemble their tacos, and accept accolades. Need we say more?–Angie Zoobkoff
HOW TO BUY SHORT RIBS FOR THESE KIMCHI TACOS
Many Korean markets sell an LA Galbi cut. It’s a thinly sliced short rib that’s cut across the bone. If you don’t have access to this cut, buy boneless short ribs and then slice them 1/4-inch thick. (If you toss the boneless short ribs in the freezer for 30 minutes before slicing, they’ll be much easier to slice.)
For the bulgogi (marinated short ribs)
- 1 medium (7 oz) yellow onion, quartered
- 6 to 8 whole garlic cloves
- 1 (1-inch) knob fresh ginger, smashed (about 30 g)
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup soy sauce
- 1 medium (6 oz) pear, preferably an Asian pear, quartered
- 1/2 cup mirin or other rice-based wine
- 1 pound beef short ribs, cut LA Galbi–style*, deboned
For the Korean taco sauce
For the kimchi tacos assembly
- 8 corn tortilas
- 2 cups store-bought or homemade kimchi
- Chopped fresh cilantro leaves, for serving
- Lime wedges, for serving
- Guacamole, for serving (optional)
Make the bulgogi (marinated short ribs)
- In a blender, purée the onion, garlic, ginger, sugar, black pepper, soy sauce, pear, and mirin until smooth.
- Place the meat in a large resealable plastic bag. Pour the puréed marinade into the bag, squeeze out as much air as you can, seal the bag, and massage the marinade into the meat. (You may not need all the marinade to coat the short ribs. You can reserve the unused marinade for use on chicken or tacos.) Toss the bag of short ribs in the refrigerator and leave it overnight.
Make the Korean taco sauce
- In a small bowl, stir together the sugar, gochujang chile paste, soy sauce, sesame oil, and rice vinegar together in a small bowl.
Grill the bulgogi (marinated short ribs)
- Heat a charcoal or gas grill to medium-high and oil the grate. Sear the beef 2 to 5 minutes on each side for medium-rare (about 130°F or 54°C), and then let it rest on a cooling rack placed over a plate for at least 5 minutes. Cut the meat diagonally across the grain into slices about 1/2 inch (1 cm) thick.
Assemble the kimchi tacos
- 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.
- Divvy the grilled short ribs among the warmed tortillas. Top with the kimchi, Korean taco sauce, chopped cilantro, a squeeze of lime, and guacamole, if desired. Devour immediately.
How To Make Vegetarian Kimchi Tacos VariationThese kimchi tacos taste equally spectacular when you marinate tofu in place of the bulgogi or marinated short ribs. (Well, okay, ALMOST equally spectacular.) Simply follow the above directions substituting 1 pound firm tofu, pressed and thickly sliced, for the short ribs.
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Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
Let the superlatives begin! These kimchi tacos are fabulous—all of the components of the dish contribute to a taste explosion. The grilled short ribs take on a nice char from the sweetness in the marinade, the taco sauce packs just the right spicy punch, and the fresh kimchi brings contrasting crunch and freshness to the tenderness of the beef. The brightness of the lime and cilantro finish everything off by cutting through the richness of the other ingredients. My only suggestion—double the recipe! This was so good that 3 of us finished the entire batch and probably would have gone back for more! The marinade made 3 cups and I only needed 2 cups for the short ribs so I used the other cup to marinate 1 pound pressed tofu which I later grilled but it would have been great on chicken as well. I used store-bought gochuchang chile paste and was able to buy freshly made kimchi from a local restaurant. The fresh kimchi really added a nice crunch to the tacos. I also grilled the fresh corn tortillas on the grill. The taco sauce was addictive! This was so good that the 3 meat eaters at the table ate all the short rib tacos AND helped our 1 vegetarian guest polish off the tofu tacos, too.
Wowza! These are not your average tacos. After eating these kimchi tacos, I don’t think I’ll be able to ever return to “normal” tacos. Absolutely fantastic and loaded with layers of flavor. The taco sauce was perfect. I used regular beef short ribs and deboned them myself. They were about 2 inches thick so the grilling time was 5 minutes per side for medium-rare. The resulting meat was incredibly tender. I used a store-bought kimchi (Wildbrine Korean Kimchi) and it worked perfectly with the tacos. Can’t wait to make again!!! This serves 4 but not if you’re super hungry. There’s lots of kimchi and taco sauce left over.