Korean beef tacos with hot mayo are probably the best street food fusion. Bulgogi, Korean ‘fire meat’ is marinated, barbecued beef steak filling soft corn tortillas, with shredded salads or slaw and sriracha spiced mayo – wow. Phwoar. OMG.
Tacos seem to be a non-dish dish; being an apparently random collection of meats, salads and sauces wrapped in very flat bread. Like burgers. Like hot dogs. Kebabs. Sandwiches.
I have a strong weakness for tacos ( yes, ‘strong weakness’ is a thing, just so you know). I’m happy to tortilla up anything: jam, black pudding or potatoes. I know that a lot of people think tacos are a way to put away leftovers, bits of pulled pork from the Sunday roast or a steak that you couldn’t manage, but I and (I hope) the Mexicans believe in cooking the filling with the purpose of tacos. They are worth to be a dish in its own right, bespoke from start to finish, even if I’m not brave enough to try my hand at chapulines (roast grasshoppers) or cabeza (pulled cow’s head).
I prefer soft tortillas for my tacos – those crunchy shells always end up exploding in a spray of shards with the filling leaking out, no matter how properly I bite into it (tilt your head, not your taco). With soft tortillas you can squish them up a bit, burrito-fold them on one side and in all manage much better. They also seem to be the original taco housing, the ready-shaped hard shells invented for the convenience of those across the border.
The taco is named after its topping (pescado, chorizo, vegetal) but also after the way the filling is cooked: tacos de asador (grilled), de cazo (fried) or de cazuela (braised). But I was pleased (not really – I was so hoping it was my own invention) to find that the mingling of Korean and Mexican street foods is legit and bulgogi tacos, marinated fried beef tacos with hot sauce and kimchi if there’s any, are a thing. There goes my claim to fame, here comes an established fusion.
Korean bulgogi, ‘fire meat’, is a cheap steak marinated in tenderizing concoctions, then fried and consumed on salad leaves. No rocket science: swap lettuce for tortillas and you have bulgogi tacos, the kind of taco that would have to be created if it didn’t exist. Sadly for me, it already does.