Ever heard of Kogi BBQ? It’s a food truck based in Los Angeles serving thousands of very lucky Californians everyday. Oh, how I wish they would send a truck to New York… I love the genius combo of Korean meets Mexican–two packed-with-flavor cuisines. Since Kogi BBQ hasn’t rolled up to my door (yet,) I decided to try to recreate it at home. Two of their dishes really popped out to me. One, the Pineapple Pork Kimchi Quesadillas and two, the Chicken Tacos,
Kogi BBQ prepares the chicken tacos with ginger-soy marinated chicken thighs, salsa roja, an onion-cilantro relish, and a salad with a chili-soy vinaigrette.
I decided to first try to recreate Kogi BBQ’s chicken tacos at home, but with some modifications. I was super happy with the results. Confession time: I’ve actually made these three times in the past week. Yeah, they’re that good. And the best part… they’re healthy.
To start, I cut up a pounded, boneless, skinless chicken breast and marinated it in a sweet-soy mixture, including grated ginger and garlic, soy sauce, brown sugar, Sriracha, mirin, rice wine vinegar, and sesame oil.
While the chicken was marinating, I trimmed 2 inches off of some wooden skewers (so they fit in the pan) and soaked in water to prevent them from burning. Once the chicken marinated for an hour, I threaded the chicken pieces onto the soaked skewers. In a large skillet over medium heat (sprayed with Pam), I added the prepared skewers. You want to cook the skewers on all 4 sides if you can–and make sure each side gets well browned without becoming dry. It should take about 10-15 minutes to cook (depending on the size of your chicken pieces.) After they cook for about 7-8 minutes, this cool caramelization starts to happen as the brown sugar in the marinade cooks down. While the chicken was cooking, I chopped up some fresh cilantro and red onion.
Once cooked, remove the skewers from the pan and let them rest for a minute or two at room temperature. This will help the juices redistribute–and the result will be super tender chicken. While the chicken rested, I heated up my “tortillas,” which were actually oat bran-flax mini pitas I found in the grocery store. You could easily substitute small flour tortillas instead. I like to warm them over the gas burner on the stove–it gives them a crisp, smoky texture.
To assemble, take the tortilla or pita, add a few pieces of chicken from the skewers, a healthy squirt of the Go-Chu-Jang sauce*, and a handful of chopped cilantro and red onion. Yum! You get sweet, spicy, crunchy–Korean, Mexican flavors–all in one bite.
*A note on Gochujang sauce. This has been the best pantry/fridge-staple discovery of the year. I found it in the Asian condiment section of my grocery store, and I can’t get enough of it. It’s packed with a spicy-sesame flavor… it almost tastes peanut-y. I want to eat it on anything and everything. If your grocery store doesn’t stock it, you can get it here. Annie Chun is the brand.
Korean Chicken Tacos with Cilantro, Red Onion, and Gochujang sauce
1 garlic clove, grated
1-inch piece of garlic, peeled and grated
2 tbsp. soy sauce
1 tbsp. light brown sugar
1 tbsp. water
2 tsp. rice wine vinegar
1 tsp. Sriracha
1 tsp. Mirin
1 tsp. sesame oil
2 chicken breasts, pounded, cut into bite-size pieces
1 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 cup chopped red onion
8 mini pita breads or small flour tortillas
Annie Chun’s Gochujang sauce
Wooden skewers, soaked in water
1. Pound chicken breasts to 1/2-inch thickness and cut into bite size pieces. Set aside.
2. Grate ginger and garlic on a microplane grater and add to a medium size bowl. Add the other marinade ingredients and whisk to combine. Add the chicken pieces, cover bowl with plastic wrap, and marinate for 1 hour. While the chicken marinates, chop the cilantro and red onion.
3. Heat a large skillet over medium heat–spray with Pam. Place chicken pieces on skewers, folding pieces onto skewers if necessary. Once the pan is hot, add the skewers to the pan. Do not overcrowd the pan–you will likely have to cook in two batches. Cook until all sides of the chicken skewers are browned and the marinade starts to caramelize. Once cooked through, remove from pan and let rest.
4. Warm the pitas or tortillas over a flame on a gas stove or in a warm oven (wrapped in foil.) Remove the chicken pieces from the skewers. Stuff the pitas/tortillas with a few chicken pieces, a generous spoonful of the Gochujang sauce, chopped cilantro, and red onions. Serve hot.