Saturday, May 05, 2012


makes 8 tacos, to serve 3 or 4

8 ounces firm or extra-firm tofu
8 ounces napa cabbage kimchi, drained and cut into 1/2-inch-wide strips (about 1 packed cup)
About 1/2 teaspoon sugar
About 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika o ground chipotle chile, and/or 1 1/2 teaspoons Korean red pepper powder (gochu garu)
4 to 5 ounces bacon, cut crosswise into 1/3-inch-wide strips
1/2 small yellow onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped (crush a smidgen for the kimchi sour cream below)
1 extra large jalapeño chile, halved lengthwise and cut into 1/8-inch-thick rings
1 to 2 tablespoons kimchi pickling liquid (save from draining kimchi)
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil, optional
8 corn tortillas
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped cilantro
1 small ripe avocado, seeded and cut into wedges
1 batch of kimchi sour cream (recipe below)
1 or 2 limes, cut into wedges

Kimchi Sour Cream
1 1/2 teaspoons mature (stinky) kimchi juice
2 pinches sea salt
2 pinches sugar
Smidgen of crushed garlic
1 teaspoon unseasoned rice vinegar
1 1/2 tablespoons sour cream
1 1/2 tablespoons mayonnaise
To make the kimchi sour cream, stir together the kimchi juice, salt, sugar, garlic, fish sauce, vinegar, sour cream, and mayonnaise. Let sit for 5 minutes then taste and adjust the flavor. Cover until you are ready to serve. Makes about 1/4 cup. 

Tofu, Kimchi and Bacon Tacos
Cut the tofu into thin little matchbooks, each one about 1/3 inch thick, 3/4 inch wide and the length of the first two joints of your index finger. Set on several layers of paper towel or a non-terry dishcloth to drain for about 15 minutes.

Season the kimchi with the sugar and paprika or chile  powder. Aim to balance and brighten the flavor, as well as inject a bit of heat. You can combine them all, if they’re available. Set aside.

In a 10-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, cook the bacon. Scatter it in, spreading the pieces out flat. After 1 minute, when some of the fat has rendered, start stir-frying. When the bacon is gently sizzling all over and has browned a bit (but not crisp), transfer to a plate, leaving the fat behind.

Remove all but 2 tablespoons of the fat (reserve any extra or add some oil if you need to). Reheat the skillet over medium-high heat. Blot the tofu one last time, then add the pieces to the skillet. Pan-fry them for 3 to 4 minutes, turning midway, until golden. They won’t be totally crisp but have some character. Add to the plate with the bacon.

Add 1 or 2 tablespoons of reserved bacon fat (or oil) to the skillet, then cook the onion until soft and a little brown, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and jalapeno chile, and cook until no longer raw smelling.

Add the kimchi and cook to warm through. Return the tofu and bacon to the pan and combine and heat through. Splash in the kimchi pickling liquid to flavor and moisten. Cook for a final minute, stirring, until the tofu has turned orange-red. Remove from the heat. Taste and adjust the seasonings with extra sugar or salt. Drizzle with sesame oil, if using. Set aside or cover with an inverted bowl, if you want to keep warm. The mixture can easily be reheated until hot or eaten warm.

Reheat the tortillas in a skillet, microwave oven, or atop a gas burner. To serve, distribute the tofu mixture among the tortillas. Add the avocado, drizzle on some of the kimchi sour cream and top with a sprinkle of cilantro. Squeeze on some lime juice for a tart note. (Or, serve the tofu mixture, tortillas and garnishes in separate containers and have guests help themselves.)

bacon recipe courtesy of: Andrea Nguyen, Viet World Kitchen, May 3, 2012