After a long day of work and other activities, getting dinner on the table can be a struggle. These Korean Beef Tacos are great for busy weekdays and give you a slightly different take on dinner for your next taco Tuesday.
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Classic ground beef tacos are generally a hit in most households. But sometimes you want to change things up a bit. Enter Korean Beef Tacos.
They take the standard components of classic beef tacos – ground beef, toppings and tortillas – and mix them up a bit by adding Asian flavors. Slightly char flour tortillas and you have the perfect combo!
If you are trying to simplify your weeknight dinner routine, implementing Taco Tuesday as part of your regular menu is a great way to do it!
Simple steps for making tacos
For this recipe, I wanted to create a unique, flavorful taco that can be made just about anytime. You can easily make these for a weeknight meal, but they are also great for casual entertaining.
Pickle the onions: Since you want to give the onions some time to pickle, this is the first step. Simply place the sliced onions in a jar or other container with a lid and add the vinegar, sugar, salt and water. Let them sit in for at least 15 minutes, though 30 minutes or longer is ideal.
Meal prep tips: If you are doing weekly meal prep, you can easily make the ground beef at the beginning of the week. You can also make the pickled onions and the mayo a couple of days in advance. I recommend making the cucumbers the same day to keep them crisp.
Season the cucumbers: The cucumbers also need a little bit of time to marinate so make this your next step to ensure they are ready when the beef is done.
Mix the mayo: This is a simple way to spice up standard mayo a bit. A little bit of sriracha and lime juice give you a flavor explosion!
Cook the ground beef: I like to use a saute pan when making ground beef dishes. It helps to control splatter and gives you lots of surface area. You start by cooking the ground beef until fairly crumbly and then add the garlic and ginger. Next comes a splash of tamari, some rice vinegar, and mirin. Then add a bit of gochujang to give it some heat – be sure to add slowly so you can make sure it suits your taste. Add a little bit of water and let the flavors meld.
Heat the tortillas: I like to warm my tortillas up a bit. You can wrap them in foil and put them in your toaster (or regular) oven. You can also wrap them in a paper towel and warm them in the microwave for about 20 seconds. If you like a bit of char on your tortillas and you have a gas cooktop, you can turn a burner on low and heat them right on the burner. Be sure to keep a very close eye on them so they don’t catch on fire!
- Ground beef: When making tacos I generally use 90% lean ground beef. It gives you a little fat for added flavor but not enough that you’ll need to drain it before adding the seasonings.
- Cucumber: For ease of use, I recommend using seedless cucumbers in this recipe.
- Fresh ginger: Sometimes I’m a fan of using ground ginger in recipes but for this one, you really want to take the time to mince fresh ginger.
- Mirin: This is a Japanese sweet rice wine. It gives a bit of acidity to a dish. You can find it in most large grocery stores or you can order it on Amazon.
- Gochujang: This is a fermented chili sauce that can be found in most larger grocery stores. It’s also available online (see the link below for details).
What goes with Korean beef tacos?
When serving tacos you really don’t have to add much else to make a meal. You can top them thinly sliced cabbage or shredded carrots if you want to add some extra veggies. You could also add a simple green salad as a side dish or do something like this Asian Quinoa Salad.
things you may want for this recipe
Gochujang – This fermented chili sauce is an optional ingredient in these tacos but I highly recommend adding it, especially if you like an extra kick in your food!
Saute Pan – This pan has so many uses in a kitchen and as noted, is great for cooking ground beef.
Korean Beef Tacos
For the pickled onions:
- ⅓ cup thinly sliced red onion
- ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
- ½ tablespoon sugar
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ⅓ cup warm water
- For the cucumbers:
- ⅓ cup sliced seedless cucumber
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- 1 tablespoon tamari
- 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon Mirin
For the spicy mayo:
- 3 tablespoons olive oil mayonnaise
- ½ teaspoon sriracha
- 2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
For the beef:
- ¾ pound lean ground beef
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 tablespoons fresh minced ginger
- 1 tablespoon tamari
- 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
- 1 tablespoon Mirin
- 1 -2 teaspoons gochujang
- For the tacos:
- 4-6 flour taco size flour tortillas
- chopped cilantro
- lime wedges
- Pickle the onions: Add the sliced onions in a jar or other container with a lid and add the vinegar, sugar, salt and water. Let them sit in for at least 15 minutes, though 30 minutes or longer is ideal.
- Season the cucumbers: Spread the cucumber slices on a plate and sprinkle with salt. Let them sit for 5 minutes. Mix the tamari, vinegar and mirin in a small bowl and then pour the mixture over the cucumber slices. Let sit for 15 minutes or while you cook the beef.
- Mix the mayo: Add the mayo, sriracha and lime juice to a small bowl. Mix well.
- Cook the ground beef: Heat a large saute pan or skillet over medium-high heat. Add the ground beef and cook until crumbly. Turn the heat to medium and add the garlic and ginger. Saute for 1 minute. Add the gochujang a teaspoon at a time, tasting after each addition until you have the right amount of heat for your taste. Add one tablespoon of water and reduce the heat to low. Simmer for 5 minutes.
- Char the tortillas: Use a gas burner on your cooktop to heat the tortillas over low heat. Be sure to keep a very close eye on them so they don't catch on fire!
- Serve: Place 2-3 tortillas on each plate. Top with ground beef, pickled onions, cucumbers, spicy mayo and chopped cilantro. Add a squeeze of lime juice if desired. Serve immediately.
- If you don't have a gas cooktop you can wrap the tortillas in foil and put them in your toaster oven. You can also wrap them in a paper towel and warm them in the microwave for about 20 seconds.