From S., 15 September 2010, Dressing up your fusion taco.
Q: Great site and lots of info! I recently ate at a Korean taco truck and loved it.
I had a Korean short rib with Asian slaw (Kogi Taco) on a corn tortilla. Do you have any recipe on the Asian slaw? It seems to be radishes, cucumber and sesame oil.
Thanks in advance!
A: Hi and thanks for your question. You don’t happen to have snapped a picture of the taco in question, do you? Different taco trucks feature different pickles/slaw, and it would be great to have a picture to pick out the ingredients.
Was it spicy? Sweet? Vinegar-tasting? Was it pungent, like kimchi? Without knowing, here’s what I’d do. Slaw is refreshing because it gives a little kick or contrast to the heaviness of the meat. So you’re going to need some vinegar to pickle the vegetables. And the best slaws add a little sweetness to the crunch and tartness of the pickle. So you’ll want a little sugar as well. For a Korean-style slaw, some hot pepper seems essential. You can get this from powdered red pepper, but why not add a little more tartness and pungency with chopped kimchi? Sesame oil at the end provides a savory, toasted quality.
So scroll down to find out how I’d make a slaw for a kogi taco. It might not taste exactly like the one you had, but I hope you’ll find it as tasty. If the slaw of your choice isn’t particularly spicy or pungent, you can leave out the kimchi. For more on Korean-style pickles, check out my earlier post about pickles.
Korean-inspired slaw for Kogi tacos (or dogs, or burgers, or what have you …)
If you can’t find mu radish (and you probably won’t unless you live in an area with a Korean market), daikon will work just fine, as will any other large, solid radish. You even could use regular red radish. In the summer, if you grow watermelon radish, you can enjoy a spectacular version of this pickle, which is ready to eat within an hour.
1/2 pound mu radish or daikon, peeled and sliced thinly (less than 1/16″) on a mandoline. The slices should be thin enough to be totally flexible
1/2 pound cucumbers, washed well to remove wax, and thinly sliced (less than 1/16″) on a mandoline
1 c hot water (about 150F)
1/2 c rice wine vinegar
1/4 c sugar
1 tbsp kosher salt, plus a little extra
1/2 c baechu kimchi (cabbage kimchi)
toasted sesame oil
Place the radish and cucumber slices each in its own container with a lid (or have some plastic wrap/clingfilm at the ready). Combine the water, vinegar, sugar, and 1 tbsp salt, ensuring that the sugar and salt have dissolved completely. Pour half the liquid over the radish slices and half over the cucumber; seal the lid. Allow to stand for at least an hour before eating. If you plan to use it the same night, you can pickle on the countertop; otherwise, refrigerate the pickle. The pickle will be ready to eat after an hour, but tastes more tart and sweet the longer you store it in the brine.
Finely chop the baechu kimchi. Remove the pickle from the brine and julienne as much of the radish and cucumber as you need (stack the pickled vegetables to make this go more quickly). Combine the kimchi and the julienned pickle in about a 1:4 ratio. Toss with toasted sesame oil to taste and add a pinch of salt. Enjoy on your dog/burger/taco of choice.