Serious Heat: Kogi-Inspired Bulgogi Tacos with Spicy Slaw Recipe

Note: On Wednesdays, Andrea Lynn, senior editor of Chile Pepper magazine, drops by with Serious Heat.

I admit it. I'm not a recipe repeater.

As a constant food experimenter for both a magazine and personal chef clients, almost every meal is different. So it'll be a while before I come back to a recipe. "Remember that rhubarb-strawberry compote I made?" I asked my boyfriend recently, when I had thoughts of making it again to use up the excess fruit in our CSA share. He gave a blank stare. "More than two years ago...I made lemon shrimp pasta for dinner that night. We watched the Sopranos." Still a blank stare. I can't blame him for not being able to keep up with the massive recipe inventory in my head.

Even with the personal cheffing I do on the side through The Dish's Dish, I rarely repeat a meal for a client, unless requested. Well, I've finally found a repeat-worthy recipe with these Bulgogi Tacos with Spicy Slaw. Our former editorial assistant, Lillian Cho, came up with the recipe for the July 2009 issue of Chile Pepper with inspiration from the Los Angeles Asian taco truck, Kogi. And I've made the recipe about half a dozen times in the past couple months, practically a record for me.

Bulgogi is a Korean dish of thin slices of steak marinated in a soy sauce and sesame oil mixture. To speed up the marinating process, Lillian used ground beef in place of steak.


"there's an incredible spicy-sweet-tangy combo"

For the slaw, a quick salting of the cabbage removes some of its excess liquid, and infuses it with flavor. As a Southerner, I can't make a slaw without a scoop of mayo, so I added that. Between the red chile flakes, the fish sauce, and the spoonful of sugar, there's an incredible spicy-sweet-tangy combo that plays around in the mouth with the slaw and works nicely with the sweetness of the bulgogi.

The concept of Asian tacos is such a refreshing play when you're in a Mexican rut.

Bulgogi Tacos with Spicy Slaw

by Lillian Cho, Chile Pepper magazine July 2009

Recipe Facts

Prep: 5 mins
Cook: 20 mins
Total: 25 mins
Serves: 4 servings

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For the Bulgogi:

  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce

  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil

  • 2 teaspoons garlic, crushed

  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar

  • 1 tablespoon mirin

  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper

  • 1 pound ground beef

  • 1 onion, sliced thinly

  • 2 scallions, cut into 1-inch pieces

For the Spicy Slaw:

  • 1 pound Chinese, red or Napa cabbage, thinly sliced

  • 1 tablespoon salt

  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce

  • 2 tablespoons white vinegar

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Korean chile flakes or hot red pepper flakes

  • 1 teaspoon garlic, crushed

  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger, crushed

  • 1 teaspoon sugar

  • 1 scallion, thinly sliced

  • 1 teaspoon sesame seeds

  • 1/2 cup mayo (optional)

  • Warm flour tortillas, to serve


  1. Sprinkle the salt on the cabbage and toss. Let stand for 20 minutes.

  2. In a large mixing bowl, add the soy sauce, sesame oil, garlic, brown sugar, mirin and black pepper, and whisk. Add the ground beef, onions and scallions then mix gently until the sauce is incorporated into the meat.

  3. For the slaw, mix the fish sauce, vinegar, chile flakes, garlic, ginger, sugar, scallions and sesame seeds in a bowl.

  4. Bring a pan to medium-high heat, and cook the meat until done and most of the liquid has evaporated, around 10 minutes.

  5. Rinse the cabbage under cold water, then squeeze the excess water out. In a bowl, toss the cabbage with the fish sauce mixture until well-coated. To assemble, spoon the meat down the center of each tortilla, and top with slaw.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)
525 Calories
22g Fat
49g Carbs
32g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving
Calories 525
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 22g 28%
Saturated Fat 7g 35%
Cholesterol 76mg 25%
Sodium 2398mg 104%
Total Carbohydrate 49g 18%
Dietary Fiber 3g 12%
Total Sugars 8g
Protein 32g
Vitamin C 9mg 47%
Calcium 121mg 9%
Iron 6mg 33%
Potassium 699mg 15%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)