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A Tweet, Then a Recipe, Then a Party

The plugged-in foodists out there have been all abuzz (and, yes, a-Twitter) about Kogi BBQ, the Korean taco truck in La-La Land. As Erin Zimmer wrote for us in her fun piece about the Fojol Brothers of Merlindia, Kogi is also using Twitter to build a follow-that-truck buzz.

Finally, a good use for Twitter, right? Sure.

But as a recipe geek, I think I've found an even better use. I've been following Joanne Chang, a Boston favorite for her modern, fun way with pastries at Flour Bakery + Cafe, one of my favorite haunts when I lived there. Well, since I left, Chang opened Myers + Chang (the Myers is her husband, restaurateur Christopher), serving her twists on Asian street food and noodles and dim sum and more, to good notice. When she tweeted recently about adding braised short-rib tacos to the menu (inspired by Kogi), I popped her a quick note and asked for the recipe, which follows after the jump. I'm a taco fanatic, after all.

She delivered, and how. I scaled up the recipe (two recipes, actually) to make it for a friend's birthday party over the weekend, made a few tweaks to compensate for that, and it all worked out beautifully. Despite the long list of ingredients, prep went quickly; nothing about this recipe is complicated. And the results were worth it. Up on my building's common roof deck on Sunday night, guests wrapped caramelized short ribs (sweet and deeply spiced from the chock-full-of-ingredients braise) into corn tortillas along with sesame-chili salsa, sliced Asian pears, cabbage, cilantro, lime and, of course, squirts of Sriracha.

I've never tasted the Kogi tacos; neither has Joanne Chang, and, as far as I know, neither have any of my dinner-party guests. But for a couple of hours on Sunday night, we got a little bit of L.A. in Northwest D.C., thanks to the power of Twitter.

-- Joe Yonan

Asian Tacos
Makes about 20 tacos

MAKE AHEAD: The short ribs can be braised up to 2 days in advance, wrapped well in aluminum foil and refrigerated. The day of the party, reduce the braising liquid as directed, shred the meat and combine with the liquid.

For the filling
1/4 cup vegetable oil
4 pounds bone-in short ribs
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup low-sodium soy sauce
1/4 cup honey
4 medium cloves garlic, smashed
Four 1-inch pieces of peeled ginger root, smashed
8 whole star anise
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
4 scallions, white and light-green parts, cut into 1/2-inch slices
1/4 cup toasted sesame oil
1 large Asian pear, cored and coarsely chopped
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth

For the tacos
1 small or 1/2 large (about 1 pound) Chinese cabbage
2 large Asian pears (about 1 pound total)
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
20 corn tortillas
Asian-style chili sauce, such as Sriracha, for garnish
40 large sprigs cilantro, for garnish
Sesame-Chili Salsa (see recipe below)
4 limes, cut into wedges, for sprinkling

For the filling: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
Season the ribs all over with salt and pepper.
When the oil is hot, use tongs to arrange the short ribs in the skillet in a single layer (working in batches if necessary), then reduce the heat to medium. Sear for 3 to 4 minutes on each side until well brown and caramelized.

Transfer the short ribs to a large flame-proof roasting pan or Dutch oven.
Combine the sugar, soy sauce, honey, garlic, ginger, star anise, onion, scallions, sesame oil, Asian pear and chicken broth in a large bowl; mix well. Pour over the ribs.
Place the roasting pan or Dutch oven over medium-high heat; bring to a boil then cover tightly and transfer to the oven. Roast for 2 to 2 1/2 hours, or until the short ribs offer no resistance when poked with a skewer.

Transfer the meat only (not the braising liquid) to a bowl; allow it to cool to room temperature.
Meanwhile, strain the liquid into a fat-separator cup. (Alternatively, if making the short ribs a day or more in advance, strain the liquid into a heatproof bowl and refrigerate, then discard the congealed fat off the top.) Pour the defatted braising liquid into the roasting pan or Dutch oven; place over high heat. Let it come to a boil (uncovered) so that it has reduced by about three-fourths. It will be very syrupy. This may take 30 to 40 minutes or more, depending on the size of the pan or Dutch oven.
When the meat cool is enough to handle, remove it from the bone. Use your fingers to shred it, discarding any tough bands of fat. Add enough of the reduced braising liquid to fully moisten the meat, and save the rest of the liquid for another use.

For the tacos: Cut the cabbage into thin slices. Core the Asian pears then cut the fruit into thin slices. Toss together in a large bowl and season generously with salt and pepper.

If using a gas stove, heat the tortillas by turning on all the burners to medium-high heat. Heat a tortilla on each burner for a minute or two on each side, until the tortillas start to puff and a few black spots form. If using an electric stove, heat the tortillas (one at a time) in a dry skillet over medium-low heat until they are pliable. Wrap the warm tortillas in a single packet of aluminum foil as you work.

To serve, place a spoonful of the cabbage-pear mixture in each tortilla, then add 3 or 4 tablespoons of braised meat. Drizzle with a little of the chili sauce, add 2 sprigs of cilantro and finish with a spoonful (to taste) of the Sesame-Chili Salsa.
Garnish each portion wedges of lime.

Per taco (based on 20, not including salsa): 345 calories, 13 g protein, 25 g carbohydrates, 22 g fat, 9 g saturated fat, 48 mg cholesterol, 213 mg sodium, 3 g dietary fiber, 10 g sugar

Sesame-Chili Salsa

Makes about 3 cups

MAKE AHEAD: The salsa can be made a day in advance; refrigerate in an airtight container.

2 to 3 bunches scallions, white and light-green parts, cut crosswise into thin slices (2 cups)
Leaves from 1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped (1 cup)
1/2 cup sesame seeds
1/2 cup toasted sesame oil
2 tablespoons chili oil
1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
1 cup store-bought kimchi, chopped
Juice of 2 limes, or more to taste (2 tablespoons)
Freshly ground black pepper

Combine the scallions, cilantro, sesame seeds, sesame oil and chili oil, soy sauce, kimchi and lime juice in a large bowl; mix well. Taste and season with salt and pepper.
Serve immediately, or cover and refrigerate for up to 1 day.

Per tablespoon serving: 39 calories, 0 g protein, 1 g carbohydrates, 4 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 38 mg sodium, 0 g dietary fiber, 0 g sugar

By Joe Yonan  |  June 2, 2009; 12:00 PM ET
Categories:  Recipes  | Tags: Joe Yonan, Twitter, tacos  
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I can attest to their deliciousness. Glad to have the recipe!

Posted by: metrocurean | June 2, 2009 6:16 PM | Report abuse

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