The Surprisingly Simple Way a Michelin-Starred Chef Makes Tacos
Friends, there’s tacos, and then there’s these Gangnam-style pork tacos. After you’ve had the latter, it’s really difficult to go back to anything ordinary. Ken Frank, the executive chef of the Michelin-starred restaurant La Toque, based in Napa, California, whipped out this show-stopping finger food at the SPG Amex Tent during the BottleRock Music Festival over the summer. Tasked with developing recipes that could be held in one hand (leaving the other free to nurse a cocktail like a spicy paloma), Frank came up with Korean-style pulled pork tacos, dressed in a spicy pineapple Gochujang sauce and topped with a hefty pile of kimchi (chili-fermented cabbage). After stuffing our faces with at least six tacos each, we begged the chef to share his recipe with us so that you can equip your next party with hybrid food at its finest.
Gangnam-Style Pork Tacos
(Serves 8; 3 tacos per person)
- 1 tablespoon star anise
- 1 tablespoon cumin seeds
- 1 tablespoon coriander
- 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
- 1 skinless, boneless pork shoulder (about 6 pounds)
- 1 slice pineapple
- 2 green onions
- 1-2 jalapeños (optional)
- 2 tablespoon sesame seeds
- rice wine vinegar, to taste
- soy sauce, to taste
- Gochujang sauce, to taste
- chopped kimchi, to garnish
- 48 corn tortillas (taqueria size)
1. To Roast Pork Shoulder: Toast and grind star anise, cumin seeds, coriander, and black peppercorns.
2. Mix these spices with Kosher salt, and rub all over the pork shoulder.
3. Slow roast the pork, loosely covered, in a 325°F oven for about 3 hours, until very tender. Allow to cool. Reserve pork fat.
4. To Make Gochujang Sauce: Grill a slice of pineapple and a couple of green onions over medium-high heat until caramelized. If you prefer your sauce spicier, roast a jalapeño or two.
5. In a separate pan, toast sesame seeds until golden brown.
6. Purée all ingredients together in a food processor. Thin with a little rice wine vinegar, and adjust seasoning with soy sauce. Mix this with Gochujang paste to taste until desired sauce consistency is reached.
7. To Assemble Tacos: When ready to serve, break off meat into small pieces, and heat in a cast iron skillet with a little of the pork fat saved from roasting. Toast tortillas right behind that, two tortillas per taco in the same fat, until tender.
8. Place pork on two tortillas, and top with a pinch of chopped kimchi and a squeeze of Gochujang sauce.
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BottleRock Napa and SPG Amex provided media passes for the purpose of this article.
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(Photo via Anna Monette Roberts / Brit + Co; recipe from Ken Frank / La Toque)