KoreanBeefTacos are a complete explosion of flavor! The tasty, marinated beef is loaded into charred tortillas and topped with a quick and crunchy veggie slaw and a delicious Sriracha-lime sauce.
Korean Beef Tacos
These tacos have been a while in the making. We found a fun hole-in-the-wall Korean restaurant months ago that had near perfect ratings on Yelp. And after trying their beef tacos, my husband begged me to re-create them. It took a few tries to get them just right, but my husband will tell you he likes this even better — score! Honestly, the beef alone is good enough for a meal!
The marinade is super simple but results in some seriously flavor-packed beef. If you don’t want to go to all the effort of making tacos, whip up some rice and top it with this beef (maybe a little Sriracha mayo too?).
Below I’ll break down the different components of these Korean beef tacos and give a little more detail for each component — the tortillas, beef with marinade, slaw, and sauce! It sounds like a lot, so I’ll also suggest some ways to simplify.
We prefer Street-sized flour tortillas for Korean Beef Tacos.
For the best flavor and texture, I recommend charring or warming the tortillas. I promise it’s quick and easy! (I typically do this while the beef is cooking.)
Here’s how I quick-char the tortillas: Spray both sides of the tortillas with olive oil cooking spray and char the tortillas directly over the gas flames for a few seconds. Use tongs to flip until tortillas are lightly charred and soft. Immediately fold the tortilla in half (so it will fold into a taco nicely later) and set aside under a tea towel to keep them warm and pliable.
Alternatively, warm the tortillas in a nonstick skillet. Spray both sides of the tortillas with olive oil cooking spray; cook for about 10-15 seconds, flip and cook for another 10-15 seconds. Immediately fold the tortilla in half (so it will fold into a taco nicely later) and set aside under a tea towel to keep them warm and pliable.
The beef and marinade
I’ll warn you right now, the beef marinade for these Korean beef tacos is anything but appetizing looking, but it’s so fast and easy to whip together (thank you food processor). While it’s going to require some trust on your end the minute you look at it, I promise looks are deceiving here — it’s truly incredible!)
To keep things as easy as possible, we throw everything into a large food processor (I use a 12-cup food processor, which breaks the ingredients down in seconds. Here’s the exact food processor I use) and then add it to the sliced beef. More on the beef below.
For these Korean Beef Tacos, we use flank steak (see “quick tip below”). Below are a few flank steak tips:
- Cut the steak against the grain, on the bias.Here’s more on that! It’s especially important to cut against the grain (at a steep diagonal so slices are wide) because of all the tough muscle fibers. By cutting against the grain, it reduces the length of those muscle fibers to make chewing easier. Flank steak is very lean and will be tough and chewy if it is cut in the same direction of the muscle fibers.
- Slicing on the bias means holding the knife at a 45-degree angle instead of the standard bread-slicing angle.
- Use a very sharp knife and cut the steak right out of the fridge (while it’s as cold as possible).
- Before cooking the sliced meat, let it stand at room temperature for about 15-20 minutes. If the beef is super cold, it will make the pan cool– which makes the beef less juicy.
Sometimes a grocery store will label a flank steak under a different name such as a London Broil, Flank Steak Fillet, and/or Jiffy Steak. When in doubt, ask the person at the meat counter. If you can’t find a flank steak you can use flat iron steak, hanger steak, or skirt steak with this recipe.
This slaw on these Korean Beef Tacos is downright addicting! It’s so simple to make as well — we combine everything in a large bowl and toss it together with tongs. A few shortcut notes:
- Use packaged coleslawmix (pre-shredded cabbage) instead of cutting your own cabbage. (Or use half of a cabbage in this taco recipe and the rest in one of our favorite recipes — this chipotle chicken salad!)
- Purchase matchstickcarrots instead of cutting your own carrots into matchsticks.
- Thinly slice the cucumbers instead of cutting them into matchsticks — they work fine cut in coins (which is faster than cutting into matchsticks).
- Assemble ingredients ahead of time. If you’ve got time while whipping up the marinade, make the slaw as well. If you’re making the slaw in advance, I recommend combining the veggies into one container and then the liquid ingredients into another container. Combine the two right before serving.
The sauce has only five ingredients — the zest + juice of 2 limes, Sriracha® sauce, mayo, garlic powder, and a tiny bit of sugar to balance it all out. You won’t believe the flavor this sauce adds to these Korean Beef Tacos! A few notes:
- We love Hellman’s/Best Foods® mayo best in the sauce (not sponsored).
- I recommend adding the Sriracha gradually, to personal taste and spice preference.
- If the sauce ends up too hot, add more lime juice to offset it. Not hot enough? Add more Sriracha, slowly.
- Using a microplane (like this one) and a citrus reamer or citrus juicer makes lime prep a cinch!
Korean Beef Taco Notes
- Spiciness. Overall, I’d say this recipe is fairly mild, but it certainly has some heat. To reduce the heat almost entirely, remove the Sriracha from the slaw and reduce the amount in the sauce. To add more heat, add an extra drizzle of Sriracha or Gochujang Sauce to the tacos.
- Make sure the skillet is hot before you add the marinated beef. High heat sears the surface of the meat, resulting in a juicier beef with an amazing char. (Char/color on the beef = flavor).
- Don’t overcrowd the skillet with beef –this lowers the temperature of the skillet and keeps the beef from charring nicely. Give the meat plenty of space to cook!
Simplify these Korean Beef Tacos
- Serve over rice: Skip the tortillas and slaw. Add the marinated and cooked beef and some sauce on top with some avocado or (raw) matchstick carrots
- Replace the slaw: Use regular shredded cabbage (red or green) instead of the full-blown slaw recipe included.
- Simplify the sauce: Make a super-simple Sriracha mayo — just mayo (1/4 cup) and Sriracha (2-3 teaspoons)! Or just drizzle plain Sriracha over everything (or use gochujang sauce).
More delicious taco recipes
- Ground Beef Naan Tacoswith a simple herb sauce
- Chicken Tinga Tacoswith quick pickled red onions
- Asian Chicken Tacoswith a mango slaw
- Pinto Bean Tacoswith avocado and fresh corn
- Baked Chicken Tacoswith a cilantro-lime sauce
Korean Beef Tacos
Korean Beef Tacos
Steak & Marinade
- 2poundsflank steak
- 1tablespoonginger rootpeeled and chopped
- 1/3cupregular (not lite) soy sauce
- 1/4cuplight brown sugar,lightly packed
- 1tablespoon EACH:toasted sesame oil, fresh lime juice
- 1packed cupcoarsely chopped yellow onion
- 1packed cupcoarsely chopped Fuji apple
Quick Slaw (OPTIONAL — See Note 1)
- 4cupsfinely shredded green cabbage
- 1cupmatchstick carrots
- 1cupmatchstick-cut cucumbers (~2-3 Persian/Salad or 1 English cucumber)
- 1cupcoarsely chopped cilantro(~1 bunch, stems and leaves, measure before chopping)
- 1tablespoon lime juice
- 2tablespoons EACH:regular soy sauce, rice vinegar, white granulated sugar
- 1tablespoon EACH:toasted sesame oil and sesame seeds
- 1teaspoonSriracha sauce
- 1/4cup + 2 tablespoons regular mayonnaise(we love Hellman’s/Best Foods)
- 2-1/4teaspoons Sriracha sauce
- 1teaspoon EACH:white sugar and garlic powder
- 3tablespoons lime juice + 1/2 teaspoon lime zest
- Fine sea salt and pepper
- Street-size flour tortillas + olive oil cooking spray
- Optional: additional lime wedges and cilantro for serving
STEAKMARINADE: Remove flank steak from packaging and pat dry all over with a paper towel. If the flank steak is wider than 4 inches, cut in half lengthwise. Then, against the grain, very thinly slice the flank steak into small strips. Place all the cut steak pieces in a large plastic bag. In a large/powerful food processor (or blender) add all the marinade ingredients. Pulse to finely chop and break down ingredients until you have a thick paste. (I know, it does not look appetizing!) Pour over the steak and then seal the bag without air. Massage the marinade into the steak and refrigerate for at least an hour up to overnight. (Even with just an hour of marinade time you’ll still get lots of flavor!)
SAUCE: While I’m making the marinade I like to also whip up the sauce so it can chill and get more flavorful. Combine all the sauce ingredients in a small bowl and stir briskly until smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper (I add 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper, but add to preference). Cover and store in the fridge until ready to eat.
SLAW: Combine all the ingredients listed under «slaw» (from cabbage to Sriracha) in a large bowl. Toss gently with tongs until well combined. Toss a few more times and right before serving. (See Note 1)
COOK BEEF: Set out the beef for about 15-20 minutes before cooking (if it’s super cold it will make the pan cool/meat less juicy). Set a large, heavy, non-stick pan on high heat for about 1-2 minute(s) without adding anything. We’re going to cook the meat in batches now: use tongs to grab some of the meat and marinade and add to the hot pan. Quickly separate the meat into an even layer (so the meat is not overlapping/over-crowded). Meat should make a loud sizzle when added to the pan (this is how you know the pan is hot enough). Let the meat stand for 2-3 minutes or until lightly browned and then flip and continue to cook, stirring occasionally for another 2-3 minutes or until the beef is cooked and the marinade has caramelized on the meat. Transfer to a plate, cover with foil, and quickly wipe down the skillet with a paper towel and repeat until all the beef is cooked through.
ASSEMBLY: Warm or char tortillas (See Note 2). Add beef, slaw, and lots of sauce on top! Enjoy immediately.
Note 2: To char the tortillas: Spray both sides of the tortillas with olive oil cooking spray and char the tortillas directly over the gas flames for a few seconds. Use tongs to flip until tortillas are lightly charred and soft. Immediately fold the tortilla in half (so it will fold into a taco nicely later) and place it under a towel to keep warm. Alternatively, warm tortillas in a large skillet over medium heat (in batches so the skillet isn’t over-filled). Flip to warm each side, remove from heat, fold in half, and place under a towel to keep warm.
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