I first heard about the Korean-Mexican food fusion trend having a beef bulgogi taco in Beijing, of all places. When I was still a Beijing expat two years ago, I went to a restaurant in one of the trendier areas of the city called Palms L.A. Kitchen & Bar, along with my parents, a coworker of my dad’s, and his wife.
Let me paint the picture for you:
A Chinese-American family from New Jersey, a Cornell-educated guy from Jakarta, and his Polish wife, enjoying a uniquely L.A. experience of Korean and Mexican flavors in the old hutong’s of Beijing.
Food & Globalization
Food really is one of the most visible aspects of globalization, whether it’s Starbucks’ relentless march into malls and office buildings around the world, or a taco born of Californians looking to mix kimchi and queso fresco.
Globalization is often seen as a homogenizing force. But ingredients and recipes have been moving across borders for centuries. The chili pepper, which features so prominently in traditional Sichuan and Hunan cuisine, was not native to China at all, but brought to Asia from South America by European traders in the 16th century.
While that’s not exactly the same as walking into a bustling McDonald’s in Beijing for a Big Mac and a taro pie, I think what it shows is that food is constantly evolving. It adapts to local tastes, and bends to the creativity of local cooks.
I guess what I’m trying to say, is that the idea of putting bulgogi on a warm corn tortilla, with crunchy cabbage, spicy kimchi, sour cream, queso fresco, and a squeeze of lime––while not an immediately obvious combination to those outside of L.A., New York, and apparently Beijing, isn’t actually that outlandish at all. In fact, it’s pretty awesome. Right, let’s make some bulgogi tacos.
Bulgogi Tacos: Recipe Instructions
In a food processor, combine the pear, onion, garlic, ginger, soy sauce, brown sugar, pepper, and sesame oil. Combine the marinade with the sliced beef, and marinate for at least 2 hours, or overnight.
When the beef is done marinating, heat a cast iron skillet over high heat. The beef will cook in about 3 batches. Use 2 tablespoons of oil per batch. When the skillet is searing hot, lay pieces of beef in one layer to cover the pan. Fry until crisp and caramelized. Then flip and fry again.
This should take 2-3 minutes per batch. Set the beef aside on a plate.
Toast the tortillas over a flame or in a dry skillet until warm. Assemble your bulgogi tacos by adding shredded cabbage, the bulgogi, kimchi, cilantro, sour cream, queso fresco, and a squeeze of lime.
Enjoy this masterpiece of Korean Mexican fusion, Beef Bulgogi Tacos!
Jonesing for some more taco goodness? Check out our more traditional Carnitas Tacos recipe. For vegetarians, you NEED to try these Loaded Crispy Tofu Tacos. They’re one of my favorites!