Korean Barbecue Tacos with Leftover Pork
There’s not a single person in the test kitchen who doesn’t love to cook. And yet, like everyone, we all have days where we’re simultaneously (just a tiny bit) tired of cooking dinner and done with eating leftovers. This recipe was created with just such a conundrum in mind, and we hope it’ll inspire you to transform that bowl of leftover pork tenderloin sitting in the back of your fridge into thrilling, weeknight-easy Korean barbecue tacos. Trust us, no one will ever suspect they’re leftovers — our barbecue sauce is that good!
We start with some leftover brown sugar pork tenderloin. It’s another very easy recipe that turns out tangy-sweet, succulent pork tenderloin medallions, green beans, and potatoes — and a whole leftover pork tenderloin to use here. That said, you could use any leftover pork.
We make the barbecue sauce with ginger, garlic, brown sugar, sesame oil, and gochujang sauce. It’s sweet, garlicky, and full of gingery kick. We love how it saturates the pork strips as they sauté — and lightly caramelizes, giving the meat some delightfully crispy edges. It’s tempting to eat the pork straight out of the pan, but resist the urge: it’s even tastier in a corn tortilla with some very bright pickled vegetables (hello, pucker and spice), slivers of creamy avocado, crumbled queso fresco, and plenty of lime and cilantro.
Our tip: If you have leftover Korean barbecue pork, it’ll be terrific on a rice bowl with those pickled veggies. And if all you end up with is the pickles, they’ll be very handy. Throw them on scrambled eggs, grilled cheese sandwiches, and avocado toast.
For the pickled vegetables:
1 small yellow onion, thinly sliced
1 jalapeño, thinly sliced
2 radishes, thinly sliced
2 Tbsp granulated sugar
½ tsp kosher salt
¼ cup rice vinegar
2 Tbsp water
For the Korean barbecue pork:
1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
½ Tbsp minced ginger
1 Tbsp minced garlic
3 green onions, chopped
1 Tbsp packed brown sugar
1 Tbsp sesame oil
4 Tbsp gochujang sauce
Freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
1 lb leftover brown sugar pork tenderloin, cut into ½” strips
For the tacos:
12 corn tortillas
1 avocado, diced small
3 oz queso fresco, crumbled
Lime wedges, for garnish
Gelson’s organic cilantro, for garnish
To make the pickled vegetables: In a small bowl, combine the onions, jalapeños, radishes, sugar, salt, rice vinegar, and water. Stir until the vegetables are coated well, and the sugar and salt have dissolved.
Using a spoon, press the vegetables into the liquid so they remain fully coated while they marinate. Set aside.
To make the Korean barbecue pork: In a medium skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat until shimmering. Add the ginger, garlic, and green onions, and cook, stirring continuously, for 1 minute, or until the onions have softened and are starting to brown.
Add the brown sugar, sesame oil, and gochujang sauce, and stir. Season with black pepper. Add the pork tenderloin strips and cook for 2 to 4 minutes, or until the pork is heated throughout and sizzling. Keep the skillet warm over low heat until the rest of your ingredients are ready.
To assemble the tacos: In a small skillet, heat one tortilla over medium-high heat for about 30 seconds on each side, or until both sides of the tortilla have started to brown. Repeat with the remaining tortillas.
Stack two tortillas on a plate, spoon on a little of the pork mixture, and then top with pickled vegetables, avocado, and queso fresco. Serve with lime wedges and cilantro. Repeat with the remaining tortillas. Enjoy immediately.