Cooking, Food, Recipe

Korean Elk Tacos

This is a post about trying new things. Last summer I took the Geeky Kids to Jungle Jim’s and let them pick out an exotic meat to try in a recipe. We wound up making Kangaroo Pot Pies, which were delicious and they loved. This summer, I was lobbying for Llama, but the girls said in chorus “Too cute! We can’t eat that!” so we settled on ground Elk meat, instead. Then, as we were walking through the aisles, we stopped to look at a spice rack, and the Otaku Princess picked up the Korean Taco packet. “We should try this with the elk.” So we did.

Korean Elk Taco with Quick Pickles
Korean Elk Taco with Quick Pickles

The tacos themselves were fairly easy to put together, but I know enough about Korean spice blends to suspect that the usual taco toppings weren’t going to mesh well. So I created a quick pickle, thinking of the side dishes our favorite Korean restaurant puts out with our entrees. I also put out kimchee, but I’m the only one who will eat that!

Taco ingredients (water not shown)
Taco ingredients (water not shown)

The instructions on the packet  said to marinade the meat for at least 30 minutes, and since the quick pickle needed to be in the fridge for an hour, I did them both and then took the Geeky Kids to the library. I used one pound of ground elk, whisked the seasoning packet with the recommended water (1/3 c), and poured the marinade over the meat in a ziploc bag. Sealed this, and put it in the fridge before turning my attention to the pickle.

Korean Pickles
Pickle ingredients

Korean Quick Pickle

Ingredients

  • 1 large cucumber, unpeeled
  • 5 tbsp Rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1-2 tsp garlic chilli paste (more makes it spicier)

Instructions

  • Slice the cucumber thinly. I used my food processor, but even thinner slices as you'd get on a mandoline would be better. Place the slices in a ziploc. Whisk together the pickling brine, then pour it over the slices. Press out as much air as possible and put it in the fridge for about an hour. The pickles will still be a bit crispy, if you leave them longer they can get soggy.
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    Pickles ready to go in the fridge
    Pickles ready to go in the fridge

    When we got back from the library I fried up the meat with 1/3 c oil in a cast iron skillet over med-high heat. There is a good bit of sugar in the seasoning, and the meat is very lean, so keep an eye on it. You don’t want to burn this. Once the meat is cooked through, assemble the tacos. I prefer corn tortillas, the kids and First Reader went for the crispy corn shells.

    Frying up the meat and sauce.
    Frying up the meat and sauce.

    The tacos were good! The gaminess of the elk was hidden by the marinade, which I didn’t like, but the kids probably appreciated. The marinade was strongly reminiscent of Korean BBQ, which I think was the point. The pickles on the rich, sweet tacos were a lovely counterpoint. When I added kimchee to mine they were nicely spicy and well balanced in flavors. We plan to do this again – but with run-of-the-mill ground beef. No point in wasting the expensive meat when we’re hiding the flavors like this.

    The First Reader pointed out that the larger pieces of the meat were still gamey to him. He suggested we try this again with goat. He was also not sure about the sweetness of the Korean seasoning in this application.

    The Little Man liked the elk, but not the pickles. He thought they were spicy. The Jr. Mad Scientist was similarly unimpressed with the pickles but liked the tacos.

    Korean Elk Tacos with quick pickles, kimchee, and sparkling cranberry.
    Korean Elk Tacos with quick pickles, kimchee, and sparkling cranberry.