Crockpot Korean Beef Rib Tacos with Asian Slaw

Crockpot Korean Beef Rid Tacos with Asian Slaw

Remember when I told you that we lived and taught in Korea a few years back? And how much we loved, loved, loved a dish called galbi, which is essentially uber-flavorful meat grilled in the center of your table, and lovingly wrapped in lettuce leaves with a variety of condiments? And how Korean food is generally amazing?

Ok…well…

Now let me tell you about the other side of being a foreigner in Korea. Especially a foreigner who comes from one of the most ethnically and deliciously diverse cities in America. And how sometimes, as a foreigner, you just needed to eat something from home, something very non-Korean, and how you would go to ridiculous lengths to do so.

liz in korea Lengths like this: We would travel forty-five minutes by train, plus a ten-minute walk for good Indian food. We went ten months without a decent taco until we finally discovered the restaurant Tiger Tiger. To get to Tiger Tiger meant winding through some crazy-narrow back alleys to find this literal hole-in-the-wall, not unlike a mouse in a maze, frantically seeking a piece of cheese.

And speaking of cheese, our friend Lauren would take a two-hour bus ride to get to a decent chunk of cheddar. Two hours. That’s dedication.

Dedication to what, you might ask. Taco Tuesdays.

Crockpot Korean Beef Rid Tacos with Asian Slaw

Friends and family back home would send over taco seasoning packets which were absolutely impossible to find there (much like other festive favorites like limes and cilantro). We had packets upon packets. So we instituted Taco Tuesdays, wherein we would gather with a few other ex-pats, who would potluck-ily provide the fixins’ like the aforementioned two-hour cheese, and shells, and unbelievably expensive salsa, and we would feast on tacos, once a week.

So that’s why it’s funny to me that we made Korean tacos. They taste like Korea, but in a taco, and they were amazing. This irony is not lost on me.

Crockpot Korean Beef Rid Tacos with Asian Slaw

I don’t think I say this too often on this blog, but YOU HAVE TO TRY THESE TACOS. Eric gave them an official “Top-Five-Dishes-You’ve-Ever-Made” status, and I have to admit, I can’t wait to try them again. Please don’t be intimidated by beef ribs or what looks like a long ingredient list. They are worth it, and I promise you, if you make them, you will eat most of the meat before your guests ever arrive, and you may sneak out of bed to finish the leftover slaw in the middle of the night because it’s that good.

The meat in these tacos is super tender and bursting with honest-to-goodness Korean flavor thanks to the Korean standbys like soy sauce, ginger, garlic, brown sugar, and rice vinegar. The slaw is more “Asian” than “Korean,” per se, with the addition of cilantro and lime, but the sweetened onions mixed with the bite of rice vinegar, carrots, sesame oil, and the slight crunch of toasted sesame seeds made a highly flavorful and tangy slaw that couldn’t pair better with the meat.

Crockpot Korean Beef Rid Tacos with Asian Slaw

Even though we started with six pounds of beef ribs, by the time the fat cooked off and the bones were removed, this didn’t yield as much as you’d expect. So we served a simple rice pilaf alongside of it to make the meal a little more filling.

I truly hope you try these tacos, no matter where you live or what foreign food you’re craving. Taco Tuesdays just got Koreanized.

Crockpot Korean Beef Rid Tacos with Asian Slaw

 

Crockpot Korean Short Rib Tacos

Crockpot Korean Short Rib Tacos

(rib recipe from Look Who's Cookin Now via Tasty Kitchen )

(slaw & rice recipe from me!)

(yields 5-6 servings with the rice)

This crockpot Korean beef rib taco recipe is bursting with flavor. The crockpot yields tender beef that is flavored with a super simple Korean sauce. The slaw is more "Asian" than Korean, with the addition of cilantro and lime juice, but pairs perfectly with the savory-sweet meat. We served this with the included rice pilaf because even though we doubled the rib recipe, the meat didn't yield a ton once it cooked down and we removed the bones and fat. We LOVED these tacos and hope you do too! (Notes: The rib recipe is listed here as doubled from the original recipe. With the double portion of ribs, we had the perfect ratio of slaw to meat!)

Ingredients

Ribs:

10 cloves garlic, minced

3 inches of fresh ginger, peeled and minced

1 1/2 c. soy sauce

1 c. + 6 tbsp. brown sugar

3/4 c. rice vinegar (also called rice wine vinegar)

4 tbsp. sesame oil

2 tsp. red pepper flakes

6 lbs. beef ribs (could be called short ribs or back ribs also)

--

Slaw:

2 tsp. rice vinegar

1 tsp. sugar

2 pinches salt

1/2 of a large onion - very thinly sliced

2 large carrots, peeled then "sliced" into long thin strips with your peeler

1 pinch red pepper flakes

1 handful cilantro, chopped

1 tsp. or drizzle sesame oil

1 sqeeze lime juice (about 1 tsp.)

1 tsp. fresh ginger, FINELY minced

1/4 c. toasted sesame seeds

--

Optional Rice Pilaf ingredients:

1 tbsp. vegetable oil

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 inch fresh ginger, peeled and minced

1/3 c. onion, minced

1 c. brown rice

2 c. water

2-3 tbsp. soy sauce (to taste)

lime juice (to taste)

Instructions

For the Ribs:

Mix garlic, ginger, soy sauce, brown sugar, rice vinegar, sesame oil, and red pepper flakes.

Place ribs in a greased crockpot and pour sauce over ribs. Turn crock pot on low heat. Cover with a lid and cook for 6-8 hours, moving the ribs around 2 or 3 times so that they all get a turn being immersed in the sauce.

When the time is up and meat is fork tender, remove meat from pot, discard bones. Place meat in the fridge to chill to touch.

Meanwhile, skim fat off the top of the sauce. Place sauce in a pan and simmer until thickened (about 25 mins.)

Once meat is cool to touch, pull apart with your fingers or with 2 forks. Pour some sauce back into the meat and reheat (you can use your crockpot on high for about 20 mins. or your microwave). You can serve the extra sauce on the side (goes especially well with rice recipe included).

--

For the Slaw:

(To toast the sesame seeds, heat a small pan over medium heat. Add the sesame seeds and stir for about 4 mins. until golden brown and aromatic. Remove immediately and set aside.)

In a small bowl, mix together the vinegar, sugar, and salt. Add the sliced onions to the mixture and let sit for about 15 mins. to pickle & sweeten the onions.

Pour onions & mixture into a medium bowl. Add carrot pieces. Gently stir in your red pepper flakes, cilantro, sesame oil, lime juice, and ginger.

Reserve toasted sesame seeds until JUST before serving so they retain their crunch. Can be made a few hours ahead of time and kept in the fridge, sans sesame seeds.

--

(Optional Rice: we served this with the tacos to make the meal a little more filling)

In a pot, heat the oil over medium heat. Saute garlic, ginger, and onions for 3-5 minutes or until starting to soften. Add rice, stir to toast the rice for about 2 more minutes. Add the water. Bring the mixture to boiling. Reduce heat. Cover and simmer for about 45 minutes until water is absorbed and rice is tender. Stir in soy sauce and lime juice to taste.

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70 thoughts on “Crockpot Korean Beef Rib Tacos with Asian Slaw

  1. Yum! I’ve actually eaten a lot of Korean food in Rwanda (lots of Korean missionaries here!) Do you think you could make the meat without a crockpot? Any tips?

    • Fun! I love “foreign” food in even more foreign places :) Do you have an oven or just a stovetop to work with??
      Either way, low, slow, and covered is your mantra here.
      If you have an oven, you could try braising the ribs…place the ribs and sauce in an oven proof pot w/ a lid or tight foil cover. I looked at a bunch of rib braising recipes for temperature suggestions.
      One recipe suggested baking at 325* for 90 minutes, then lowering the heat to 250* and going for another hour or until the ribs are tender. Another recipe suggested 350* for 2 hours, then lowering the heat to 325* for another 30-45 minutes.
      My suggestion would be to do make sure the ribs are completely submersed in the sauce and then bake them for something like 325* for 90-120 mins. then lowering the heat to 275* for another hour. You’ll know the ribs are done when they are falling off the bone and fork tender.

      If you don’t have an oven, you could try putting the ribs & sauce in a heavy-bottomed pan, covering with a lid, and turning the heat to LOW, as low as it gets for about 2 hours. You may want to “stir” every now and then so that nothing burns on the bottom…I only found a couple of recipe suggesting this, so I feel slightly less confident about it.

      Let me know if you try it!

    • I think foreign grocery shopping should be it’s own Olympic sport. I can’t even imagine having had a food blog while we lived there…extra points for you!

  2. Mine are in the crockpot as we speak, and smell heavenly. I’m going to get started on the slaw, and I have rice in the crockpot (which will make a fast pilaf when it’s done, I hope). I also made the potato salad (that has the apples and carrots in it). And I’m throwing in some roasted green beans on the side because it sounds like a good idea. I’m going to skip the tortillas tonight, but I have no doubt they make delicious packaging.

    My husband and I spent 2 weeks in Thailand a year ago, and on our way home stayed a day in Seoul. It was a Sunday, and most things were closed. We wandered the streets until we found an open restaurant. It was a BBQ place. You could tell they didn’t get many foreigners in that one. They had some regular tables with chairs, where they tried to seat us, but I wanted to sit on the floor just like everyone else. We tried to order several dishes off the menu (as we usually do bc we like to try lots of new things), not realizing that each menu item was a full meal for both of us. The nice woman kept telling us no until we just picked one :) We had basically this meal, sans tortillas. It came with the potato salad, which was just happiness in my mouth. I loved the surprise of the apples! The whole thing was delicious! So I’m making it all tonight! Our kids are excited to try what we ate in Korea.

    As for foreign grocery shopping, I lived in Brazil for a few years, and most things I went without. No peanut butter. No tortillas or tortilla chips. No salsa. Only one kind of cheese, and it wasn’t cheddar or anything else I frequently ate. I indulged in cereal occasionally bc it felt so decadent, but it was so expensive! And so was the shelf-stable milk that came in a box! No ranch dressing, no good pizza (the favorite local toppings were canned corn, ketchup and mayo). I was in a smaller town, so no hidden alleys were going to conjure me a taco or a decent slice. Of course Brazil has its own deliciousness, but oh how I missed so many things! I did manage to make a Thanksgiving dinner for my friends by roasting a chicken (that I thankfully did not have to catch, kill and eviscerate…this time), and doing my best to recreate some Americanness on that supremely American holiday. Lots of good memories.

    • This was so delicious! We left the rice plain and used the sauce from the ribs to flavor it. Everything was so good. We also used romaine lettuce leaves instead of tortillas, which the kids thought was fun. Thank you for such a wonderful meal and a memory from a fun day in Seoul.

      • Love to hear stories like this! Way to be bold in your Seoul adventuring! I can just taste that Korean BBQ now! I totally laughed at the vision of an old Korean lady (ajuma!) repeatedly saying no until you figured it out…love it.
        And so glad you and your family enjoyed the tacos – way to step up the authenticity by using lettuce leaves; I had thought originally about using spring roll wrappers, but couldn’t pass by the three bags of tortillas in my freezer at the time! And by the way…canned corn, ketchup, and mayo? That is a pizza from my nightmares. Thanks for the comment!

        • If you hate the pizza you should try their hamburgers. “The American Burger” had a fried egg, canned corn and those little fried potato matchsticks. But I ate them, bc I needed a hamburger that bad. I never needed the pizza bad enough to eat that (and pizza is my number one love). They had a love affair with canned corn I never understood. It’s not like it was a local crop. I never saw it for sale fresh at the markets. And prunes. I stopped accepting offers of chocolate cake bc they usually had a layer of prunes spread between the layers.

  3. I am so glad you liked my recipe, it means a lot. My husband also proclaims to the world that this one of his very favorites! Your pictures are beautiful. I make great food, but my photography is not so good…haha at least I know where my talents are and are not.

  4. Amazing. Way easier than expected with the crockpot. Of course I did chop 10 cloves of garlic and grate the ginger before realizing it was for 6 pounds of ribs! I actually only got one pound of the boneless short ribs from the store (which I was nervous about) but it made plenty for 2 people. They boyfriend loved them, and there are still some leftovers… for now. So glad I pinned this! I spent a semester in Buenos Aires and can relate to all of the comments! Great blog!

  5. Thanks for posting this. We had it tonight and were all so happy. It was delicious. I served the meat and the sauce over plain jasmine rice with the slaw on top and sesame seeds sprinkled on last. It was so good. Definitely a repeater!

  6. Made these last night….oh my deliciousness! We had some meat left over, so we made a pizza version of the tacos! Bought pizza dough rolled really thin, then topped with slaw, siracha (sp?), meat, diced jalapeños, whoa….delicious!

  7. I just stumbled upon your blog searching for “Crockpot Korean Short Ribs”. I love the sharpness of your pics, it’s like I’m reading your blog in HD and it makes all the food pics looks super yummy, my mouth is watering! So now I’ve saved your blog to favorites and can’t get enough and reading as much as I can….interesting, intriguing and impressive!

  8. These turned out great!!! But, one comment on your blog, I kept having to scroll up and down between the ingredients and directions, it might be easier for readers to have the ingredients and instructions all together for each recipe. :) Thanks again for sharing this great recipe!!

    • So glad you enjoyed them. Good thought on the recipes, and it’s one I’ve kicked around myself as I love the way that cookbooks like Simply In Season list a few ingredients, instructions, ingredients, instructions, and so on. Right now, we’re using a recipe plugin called Ziplist that organizes the recipes this way – but I’ll keep it in mind! Thanks!

  9. I am SO excited to make this for our Taco Tuesday tonight! I have a quick question, you have listed to cook on low for 6-8 hours. I bought just over 3 lbs of ribs as it’s just for my Hubby and I. Do I go in-between and cook for 7?

    Thank you!!!

    • Oh, I hope you weren’t planning on making these today (Tuesday the 11th). I didn’t see this ’til now! Sorry.
      As far as how long to cook the ribs, I based it off of my crockpot, which gives me 2 options for cooking on low (8 hours or 10 hours). So, I went with the 8-hour low option.
      Whether or not your crockpot is like mine, make sure your heat is set to low (not medium or high). Then, I’d cook it for 6 and check it. If the ribs are fork-tender and falling off the bone, you’re done. If they’re not quite there, go for 7 or 8 hours until they’re super tender.
      If you’re unable to check after 6 hours and cook from there because of work or something, I’d shoot for what you mentioned – about 7 hours. At such a low temperature, you’re not going to overcook the ribs, but it’s important to cook them long enough that they’re crazy-tender and falling off the bone.
      I feel like that wasn’t very helpful. Was it at all?

      • Why not add that in to the recipe. I was hoping to make these tonight and now its most likey not going to happen. As far as the “taco” part, what does one use for the shell?

  10. Hi!! It’s ok. I started them anyway and have been home all day. I started at 11:30 on low. I just checked them as I needed to rotate the ribs and seems they still have a bit to go. Should I definitely not switch to high for an hour or just let it keep going on low?

    BTW-my house smells amazing!!!

    • Oh good – glad you went for it. Having never tried cooking these with high heat, my gut instinct is to say no…keep going on low. I hope, hope, hope you’re not waiting to eat these for dinner because if that’s the case, you’re probably trying to reach through your screen and smack me for saying that!
      Hmmm. Either way, I’d keep going on low…. :-/

  11. AAHHHHHMAZING!! I kept on low and checked at the 7 hour and you were right. They were falling right off the bone. My Husband absolutely loved this recipie and its now in our rotation! Thank you so much for helping me through it!!

  12. I have to say…THANKS!!!! I used this recipe for my daughters birthday and the pots were scraped clean….it is superb. I am making again today….thanks for sharing this fantastic recipe!

  13. I am planning on making these for a 6 person dinner party and was wondering if you used bone-in or boneless short ribs. 6 lbs of boneless seems like an awful lot of meat.

    Thanks,
    Mandy

    • I used bone-in short ribs. By the time the fat cooks off and you remove the bones, you’re left with a lot less meat. If you’re serving 6, I definitely suggest serving it with the included rice recipe, or it may not feel like quite enough. Enjoy your dinner party!

    • So glad it all worked out, and good to know about the boneless option! I know what you mean though – I wished there was more leftovers for us too :)

  14. Stumbled upon this recipe on Pinterest several months ago. These are amazing! I sometimes serve them with homemade tortillas and sometimes wrapped in lettuce. I’ve used the marinade for chicken and grilled it. Everyone LOVES it! We cook the leftover marinade down and thicken it to use as a gravy for the pilaf. Thanks for the new recipe!

  15. I am making this for my friends this Thursday. I am having my butcher cut the short ribs and when I told him they were for Korean style BBQ he said i needed the flanken cut. Is that right? I just want to make sure they come out perfect. Thanks.

    • Hi Karen – sorry I didn’t see this sooner. Okay, I’m not a 100% on my answer here since I typically just buy my short ribs from the grocery store, but I did some research and here’s what I came up with.

      What I typically buy looks more like and English-cut – or # 2 at this link.
      Your butcher is right; flanken style is typical in Korean cooking, but is thinner and typically used more for marinating and grilling (I remember these types of ribs from eating galbi in Korea too.)

      Since you’re slow-cooking these ribs and removing them from the bones, chances are, either cut would work, but like I said, I typically buy ribs that look more like an English-cut.

      Hope that helps! Let me know if you have further questions. Sorry I can’t speak very authoritatively on this one :)

  16. Absolutely wonderful recipes. The only substitution I made was to use pork ribs vs. beef ribs. I had a gal’s luncheon and everyone loved the tacos with slaw on top and the rice pilaf. I’m definitely making this more often!

  17. I tried the recipe tonight. Very flavorful but the meat was tough. Had to gnaw it off the bone. Is it overcooked? Help because I want to get it right.

    • Sorry that it didn’t turn out the way you wanted. My guess would be that they were undercooked…since meat like this benefits from a long time in low heat…but I can’t say for sure without knowing what you did. Did you use a crockpot or pot in the oven? How long and at what temp did you cook them for?

  18. This recipe sounds ultra good. I found this linked from skinnyms.com and really want to try it but the 6+ cups of sugar seems like a lot to stay technically healthy, am I right? This is not a smart remark or a slam on this at all. I am really wondering, won’t that much sugar really make this more of just a great meal if you are not so calorie conscious? Thanks!

    • Hi Matthew –
      I’m wondering if you perhaps misread the recipe. It’s 1 cup of sugar + 6 tablespoons – not 6 cups.

      However, if you still feel like that’s a bit much for your caloric goals, then you could try cutting the sugar down to 3/4 cup….or even a heaping 1/2 cup. It’s definitely going to alter the flavor – the sweetness is a big factor here. But definitely worth trying if you’re worried about sugar intake!

  19. Absolutely amazing!! Completely transported us to another world – Korea! I can’t wait to tell my fellow foodie friends about this must-try recipe!

    • So glad you liked it! I actually JUST made the sauce for this (to have it ready for the crockpot tomorrow morning). And I’m kind of loving that my hands smell like these tacos already (from chopping the garlic & ginger) :) Is that weird?

      • Not at all! I’m making it again right now for our weekly Sunday dinner with our neighbors. I made a separate batch of sauce to stir-fry some veggies for their vegan daughter too. I can’t wait for them to try it!

  20. This is honestly one of the best things I’ve ever made. Granted, I’m a bachelor whose cooking talents aren’t exactly world-class…but still! The only complaints I received from my guests came while it was cooking, because the aroma wafting from the slow-cooker was so enticing that they just couldn’t bear to wait any longer. Thank you so much for this recipe!

    • Loved reading this comment! Thanks for taking the time to leave it – so glad you and your guests enjoyed it! (Also, the days I make this, I find myself eating like a horse all day because the aroma makes me so hungry!)

  21. SO good!!! my son is adopted from Korea, so we try to include some Korean cooking in our dinner rotation…. and this one is SO easy and SO good! We do it as lettuce wraps instead of with taco shells. we also use a boneless eye roast or round roast instead of ribs. Still comes out awesome!! We even made it for his 3rd birthday party, and I got a ton of requests for the recipe afterward :-)

    • So glad to hear you’ve enjoyed it so much! I’ve been meaning to try this with a roast instead of ribs, since the ribs can be pretty spendy – good to know that it turned out well! We also eat these as lettuce wraps from time to time – so yummy!

  22. I made this for my friends one day, and now they ask me all the time to make them more… this is definitely a great taco recipe. BTW I’m from mexico and my fiends are taco experts ;)

  23. I love this recipe so much that I’m thinking about turning it into a chili recipe so I can enter it into a cook-off we’re having at work. Do you have any ideas? Have I lost my mind?

    • Love this comment. Love it.
      Okay, here are my thoughts. Most chili recipes are some combination of beans, meat, and veggies stewed for a long time, right?

      So, I’m thinking you could make the ribs the same way, but to the crockpot add whole carrots & halved onions.
      Then, when you remove the meat to discard bones, also remove the carrots & onions & chop all three into smaller bits. At that point, you could take the rib meat, carrots, onions, & some of the crockpot sauce & mix it together with (canned or cooked) mung beans (a Korean cooking favorite) to get your bean element. When you’re reheating that combo, you could add in some chopped bell peppers & corn (former slaw elements), and possibly other veg (zucchini?). You could consider adding cooked rice to bulk it out a bit.
      Then, in place of your standard chili’s cheese & sour cream, you could top yours with lime juice, a slight drizzle of sesame oil, cilantro, toasted sesame seeds (also former slaw elements).
      I’ll just say it: this might be really weird. It is definitely not your average chili, but I kind of think you could make it work! The flavor components are all there though. If you try it, will you let me know?

    • oops. I meant to write that as you mix the meat mixture with the beans to heat through, when you add your additional veggies (corn, zucchini, bell peppers), make sure you simmer the mixture long enough for the veggies to get tender. Probably that was self-explanatory, but thought I’d throw it out there!

      • Oh wow, thanks for all the great ideas! I’m encouraged that you were thinking along the same lines that I was. I’ve spent a lot of time looking into which ingredients are needed to make something “chili”. One ingredient that always seems to be present is tomatoes. Being that they’d probably sabotage the flavor of this recipe, I’ve been trying to think of ways to make it at least LOOK like chili. I think if I add red/orange ingredients like carrots, red bell pepper, red kidney beans…maybe I can fool people into thinking it isn’t as weird as it actually is. I should mention, I work at a utility company, so my coworkers are all blue-collar, meat and potatoes type guys. I think they’ll really like this, as long as they are willing to try it. I love the idea of mung beans! They might make my coworkers’ heads explode, but I’ll at least try them in the version I make for myself. Again, thanks for all the great advice. I’m going to try to make it like you described (as best I can), and I’ll let you know how it turns out.

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