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Thought Leader Series: The Best of Two Worlds: Spicy Korean Tofu Tacos

Trevor Kensey is an award-winning writer, photographer, and self-styled "food raconteur". To learn more about Trevor, please visit his blog, SisBoomBlog.com, where he delights readers with his inimitable style and manages along the way to actually share some cherished...

Spicy Korean Tofu

Trevor Kensey is an award-winning writer, photographer, and self-styled "food raconteur". To learn more about Trevor, please visit his blog, SisBoomBlog.com, where he delights readers with his inimitable style and manages along the way to actually share some cherished recipes.

When you think about the perfect fusion cuisine, "Mexican" and "Korean" are probably not the first two things that pop into your head. But as it turns out, the respective flavors of these two very different regions are a match made in culinary heaven, as these spicy Korean tacos make abundantly clear.

Spicy Korean tofu tacos

The world has L.A. chef Roy Choi to thank for the original fusion concept. Back in 2008, Choi had the bright idea to imprint his Korean culinary influences on a street food staple, the taco. His Korean BBQ-slathered take on a popular favorite quickly became legendary, as did his Kogi food truck. Luckily, you don't have to trek to the West Coast to get a taste of this delicacy -- Korean tacos are a snap to pull together, and make a festive, fun, and downright addictive addition to your weekly dinner rotation.

In this version of a Korean fusion taco, tofu is generously coated with Korean gochujang - spicy hot sauce - ginger and garlic, then dusted with cornstarch and paprika, and fried until crispy. The spicy, crispy tofu is then placed in a warm homemade corn tortilla and topped with kimchi, jicama, scallions, and cilantro. You don't have to make your own tortillas, but they're quick, easy, and fun to make -- especially if you get the kids involved -- and nothing beats a freshly-made warm tortilla.

Spicy Korean Tacos

Makes 8 tacos

For the tortillas:

    • 1 cup Masa Harina (tip: for a fun twist, use blue masa)

    • 1 cup warm water

    • ? teaspoon baking soda

    • Pinch of salt

Combine the ingredients and let sit for 5 minutes. Gently knead the dough until it becomes a smooth mass. Divide into 8 equal parts and form each part into a smooth ball. If you have a tortilla press, place each ball between two sheets of wax paper and press into a disc. If you don't have a press, you can use a heavy cast iron skillet. Cook each tortilla on a hot skillet or griddle for about 30 seconds on each side; cover and keep warm in a 200 F oven.

For the filling:

    • 3 tablespoons hot paprika, divided

    • 2 tablespoons gochujang (Korean hot pepper paste, available at most Asian supermarkets)

    • 1 heaping tablespoon minced garlic

    • 1 tablespoon grated ginger

    • 1 tablespoon sesame oil

    • Pinch salt

    • 1 brick (14 oz) firm tofu, drained and cut into ½ inch cubes

    • ¾ cup cornstarch

    • 2 cups canola oil, for frying

For garnish:

    • Julienned slices of jicama

    • Kim chee

    • Hoisin sauce

    • Sliced scallion (green and white parts)

    • cilantro

Combine 1 tablespoon of the hot paprika, the gochujang, garlic, ginger, sesame oil, and salt, and mix into a paste. Carefully stir in the tofu to cover thoroughly. Combine the cornstarch and remaining paprika. Toss the paste-covered tofu in the cornstarch mixture. Heat the canola oil in a deep-sided skillet to 355 F and fry the tofu until crispy, about 4 minutes. Remove and drain.

Now for the most fun part -- assembling the tacos! Divide the fried tofu among the 8 tortillas and top with the jicama, kimchi, a dollop of hoisin sauce, cilantro, and sliced scallion.

These delicious tacos go perfectly with ice cold Korean beer or soju, a Korean-style sake. Be ready to make a second batch -- no one can eat just one ... or three!

A colorful fusion recipe like this one deserves to be served on colorful tableware, don't you think? Don't be afraid to mix and match your plates and serving pieces. If you need to spruce up your collection then be sure to check out the beautiful tableware selections here.