Kimchi Short Rib TacoLooking to bring a sweat to the forehead and a round of applause?  This dish might take you to market for a pantry item or two, but the results make it more than worth the time.   Salty, spicy, sour, sweet: this shred will have friends crying ‘Umami!”

There are some fantastic slow meats on the streets of Vancouver and Cartel Taco provided all the inspiration I needed for a reboot of the spice cupboard at T&T. To me this is what finding a great new meal is all about – trying it on for size at home.

While the pros at Cartel Taco have me beat on all corners from cost to kitchen cleanliness, this is a recipe that has found a following.  Next time I might try to match the caliber of Cartel’s sourcing.  The providence of Cartel Taco’s weepingly tender pulled protein is peerlessly split between Pemberton Meadows, grass-fed natural beef and similarly fit Fraser Valley Farms pork and their white corn tortillas made in Burnaby.

And I bet that they know the names of all the ingredients in their kitchen too!

Meat

1 1/2 lbs        boneless beef short rib
1                     medium onion, cut in half, sliced

Rub

1/2 cup        brown sugar
3 Tbsp         little red bottle of dried Chinese spice mix
1 Tbsp         kosher salt

2 Tbsp         canola oil

Broth

4 cups            beef broth, low-sodium (great homemade!)
3 cups            kimchi
1/4 Tbsp       dark soy sauce
3 Tbsp           ponzu soy
2 Tbsp           fish sauce
3                     limes, zest/juice
1-3 Tbsp        Sambal Olek
2 Tbsp           honey
3                     cloves garlic, crush and chop
1 Tbsp           fresh ginger, julienned
2 Tbsp           agadashi 2*

Garnish

1 cup            kimchi
1 cup            green onion, sliced (greens only)
1 cup            fresh cilantro, chopped
1 cup            cashews, crushed
1 cup            apple, pear or mango chopped
1/2 cup        Sambal Olek
2                   limes, quartered
1/3 cup        pickled ginger

12                 corn tortillas

Combine brown sugar, spices and salt to make a dry rub for the meat.  *This works wonders with as little as half an hour, is best overnight and works well anywhere in between.  Goes on dry: melts like spicy/sweet/salty butter when massaged. Its called a rub for a reason so work it in for a minute or two.

Refrigerate until needed.

Heat the oil to medium in a large pot and brown the beef until golden, roughly 5 minutes, adding the onions at the midpoint.

Pour in the beef broth and ensure the short ribs are at least 3/4 covered.  Add water/beer/broth as required or desired, along with everything else except the lime juice, 1 cup of kimchi and the garnish.

Bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer. Cover and cook on low for 3-4 hours or until the meat tears to the touch.  Add lime juice and final cup of kimchi for the final half hour of cooking.  *If you want to skip the tacos and up the veggies, add a dozen baby bok choy at this point too.  Great on rice.

Remove meat carefully from mix and shred.  Pour remaining liquid and vegetables through a stainer.  Retain separately.  * The liquid makes a great broth base for a soup and you should have about 4 cups.  add a 1/4 cup of the liquid to shredded short rib.

Get the garnish to the table, beef in a bowl and braised vegetables in another.

Build a salty, spicy, sweet and sour sweat.

And In the Glass?

Dragon Come Home Lemonade

This is the ultimate tonic for whatever ails you – with or without the vodka.  Inspired by trips to Farmers Market and the revelation of the Roaming Dragon’s Lychee/Basil Lemonade – another vanguard of Vancouver’s street food renaissance.

1 ltr                        lemonade (or 12 lemons juiced with water)
1 can (530 oz.)    lychee, seeded
2/3 cup                 fresh basil
4 oz.                      vodka (optional)

Add all ingredients to blender, puree for five seconds, pulse for 10.  Pour into tall chilled glasses. Garnish with fresh basil.  Add a splash of soda for a bit of fizz.

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