Korean Style Tacos with Kogi BBQ Sauce


My parents live in Los Angeles and until just recently, so did my brother. About three times a year, I go back to LA to hang out with the family, get my In-N-Out Burger fix and get the very important big dose of smog and traffic. It’s important because it gives me that fantastic talking point when the Los Angelenos ask me, “why the heck did you move to Bradenton, Florida?” Hmmm…well, let me cough the reasons!

Just a few days ago, my brother, Jay, packed his bachelor belongings in a moving truck and moved to Wichita, Kansas to start a brand new fancy job as a Doctor of Cardi-$dollar$-gy. At first, I was like, “Are you crazy? Giving up living in Beverly Hills to go live in Kansas?”

Not that I have anything against the good state of Kansas, it’s just that it’s a totally different lifestyle than the fast-paced, Botox’d, diamond-studded city of Angels.

Last night, Jay called. He’d just arrived after a couple days of driving to his new home, “Hey sis, you must come and visit. FOR THE BAR-B-QUE!!!” He went on to describe the pulled pork and smoked ribs that he’s sampled in the past 24 hours.

That was a good enough reason to commit one of the most important holidays of the year, Thanksgiving, to haul my family to Wichita, Kansas for a week’s vacation. And it got me thinking. Take award-winning barbequed pulled pork and combine it with an Korean style barbeque sauce and a puckery Asian cucumber relish. The result is something you’d find on the street corner of Cahuenga and Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood, the Kogi BBQ truck.

As I’m sure you’ve heard, Kogi is the hottest thing to hit the streets of Los Angeles (literally!), smashing standard taco truck fare with the zing and spice of Korean flavors. They use Twitter to announce their itinerary for that evening and serve hundreds of people at each stop. Sometimes, the lines form an hour before the truck even arrives and snakes carelessly around cars, fire hydrants and benches.

I haven’t sampled their fare, I gave one of the owners, Alice Shin, a call and told her that I’d like to make a pulled pork taco from smoked pulled pork. Alice was able to nudge their chef, Roy Choi, into creating a BBQ sauce to match the deep smoky flavor of traditional BBQ’d pulled pork.

This recipe is mid-west meets Los Angeles. Good luck with your new adventure, my brother.


Korean Style Tacos with Kogi BBQ Sauce on Daytime TV

I would have loved to pair good ol’ spicy kimchi with these tacos, but my local Asian store had really sad looking kimchi. So, last minute, I decided to create a quick cucumber pickle for television as well as the photo shoot.

Dr. BBQ and I tag teamed that morning on a Daytime segment – he made his very famous pulled pork smoked in the Big Green Egg in a Carolina Pulled Pork Sandwich with Spicy Tangy Slaw (I also posted the video) – and I took his leftovers to make these Korean Style Tacos with Kogi BBQ Sauce.

hey, p.s. the video shows you what happens when you forget your dang mandoline and end up slicing cucumbers by hand in a hurry. They look like hockey pucks. Use a mandoline.

Thank you Sur La Table for providing the Shun Perfect Paring Knife and the beautiful Foldable Grilling Tools


Korean Style Tacos with Kogi BBQ Sauce Recipe

This is a great way to use your leftover pulled pork or roasted chicken. The BBQ Sauce from Kogi BBQ was created by Chef Roy to be strong flavored enough to match the smokiness of BBQ’d pork or roasted chicken. You can add use kimchi (spicy pickled Korean cabbage) to top the tacos, or make a quick cucumber pickle like I have. The recipe for the quick cucumber pickle is below.

serves 4

1 pound cooked pulled pork or cooked shredded chicken
12 corn or flour tortillas
1/4 cup Quick Cucumber Pickle (below) or prepared kimchi (Korean pickled, spicy cabbage)

For the Kogi BBQ Sauce
2 tablespoons Korean fermented hot pepper paste (gochujang)
3 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon rice wine vinegar
2 teaspoons sesame oil

Whisk all ingredients together until sugar has dissolved and mixture is smooth. You can make this a few days in advance and store tightly covered in the refrigerator.

For the Quick Cucumber Pickle
I like using English cucumbers or Japanese cucumbers – the skin is thinner and they have less seeds. If you have a Mandoline Slicer it certainly will make the job much easier.

1 large English cucumber (or 2 Japanese cucumbers), sliced very thinly
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon finely minced fresh chili pepper (or more depending on your tastes)
generous pinch of salt

Mix together all ingredients. You can make this a few hours in advance and store in refrigerator, however the longer it sits, the less “crunch” you’ll have. I like making this cucumber pickle 1 hour prior, storing in refrigerator and serving it cold on the tacos for texture and temperature contrast.


Other great recipes from around the web

Kimchi Recipe by David Lebovitz
Bulgogi Kimchi Tacos by My Korean Kitchen
Korean Beef Tacos by Week of Menus
Korean Short Rib Tacos by Tasty Eats at Home
Kimchi Pork Belly Pizza by No Recipes

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Comments 68

  1. Roj-eh

    I stumbled upon your website and this Korean Taco Recipe many months ago.

    First, Thank you! It’s become a family favorite and is fantastic taste sensation.

    Second, my tips:
    1) To warm and soften the shells, making them easy to roll… lightly spray a frypan with Olive Oil, then sprinkle water onto each tortilla and heat them in the frypan.
    2) Make extra Pickled Cucumber (refrigerate about an hour before) and really load-up each shell, the combination of cool, tangy and crisp YUM!!!
    3) As substitute for Gochujang… We use “Sriracha HOT Chili Sauce” (green twist to open cap) available in nearly every grocery store. Also delicious.
    4) To make the BBQ Sauce less runny – tacos less sloppy to eat – make the bbq sauce in a small frypan and sprinkle in (about a teaspoonful) of “Agar-agar powder” (sold in Asian food store, in what looks like a large sugar pouch. Will thicken as it cooks and gels when it cools.

    In conclusion… Thanks again and bon-appetite!

  2. Chia Rhun Kwa

    Hi, where could I get the pulled pork? Do I have to make it separately or is it available in supermarkets?

  3. Deb knold

    Where do you find the Korean hot pepper paste? I have been to every Asian Market in Kansas City and can’t find it

  4. Kim Robinson

    Hi jaden, thank you so much for this recipe! I have made it twice with both pulled pork and chicken, and loved it. I was wondering if you have ever tried it (or would recommend trying it) with a slow cooked beef (short ribs, brisket…)? Thanks!

  5. Anna

    Can someone list the prices for each ingredients? Or if not, can you just tell me the price for one pound of pulled pork?

    1. Nick

      Hi Danielle, as a Chef I have made this recipe many times with many different types of meats and substitutions and I like her recipe the best. In her recipe you DO NOT cook the meat in the sauce as the pulled pork has already been smoked, effectively cooking it, for about 8-10 hours usually. I have cooked the sauce, and it still tastes good but it changes the flavor, making it taste more asian and less bbq. As stated previously I prefer the uncooked version, it really makes the palate sing. Hope that helps..

  6. chieko

    Imagine this! I HAVE all the ingredients already, including homemade kimchi…no shopping! I will definitely add some fresh chopped Thai chile to the mix as I like super hot! Imo, flour tortillas go better with Asian flavors that corn. Thanks!

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