When I was little, my parents tried to entice me to try new foods by calling it the Chinese version of something familiar. Scallion cakes were “Chinese pizza.” Rice noodles wrapped around pieces of shrimp were “Chinese burritos.”
I remember one time my brother, exasperated with these comparisons, complained that just because the food has the same shape as something familiar doesn’t mean that you’ll like it. After all, a scallion cake might be flat and round, but it doesn’t have the cheese, tomato sauce, or variety of toppings that make pizza delicious. It’s just dough with green onions. True, calling it Chinese pizza didn’t tempt me to eat it. I was tempted to eat it because it was fried dough and onions. My parents could probably have saved themselves a lot of trouble by just telling me that it’s fried, so I’d like it.
In any case, I thought about my brother’s rant while I set out to make this Asian style taco. The idea came to me while looking at bunches of baby bok choy, radishes, cilantro, and a jalapeno from the CSA. Being a fan of pickled radishes on tacos, and remembering how I put bok choy on a burger, I thought why not combine the two ideas? I marinated some skirt steak in oyster sauce, soy sauce, garlic, and Chinese Five Spice powder; made a spicy pico de gallo of sorts with the radishes, cilantro, jalapeno and a touch of rice wine vinegar; I chopped and sautéed the bok choy with some garlic; and for my taco shells– those crispy fried scallion cakes.
These tacos were so delicious– the steak was tender and juicy, the radishes added crunch and spice. The bok choy added a fresh green flavor and the scallion cakes were soft, yet crispy and laced each bite with a light onion flavor. If the picky eaters in your life don’t respond to these Chinese tacos simply because it doesn’t have the refried beans, cheese, and tomato salsa that makes Mexican tacos so tasty… well, just tell them that these are fried.
- 1/4 cup Tamari soy sauce
- 2 teaspoons sesame oil
- 1 tablespoon oyster sauce
- 1 tablespoon light brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon Chinese five spice powder
- 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1.5 teaspoons hot mustard
- 3 large garlic cloves, chopped
Radish Pico de Gallo
- 1 bunch, medium pink radishes, diced
- 1 jalapeno pepper, minced
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
- 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon lime juice
- 2 teaspoons canola oil
- salt and pepper
- 10 oz skirt steak
- Montreal steak seasoning
- 1 recipe scallion cakes
- 2 bunches baby bok choy, chopped with stems separated from leaves
- 1 medium garlic clove, minced
- 2 teaspoons canola oil
- 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
- salt and pepper
Whisk together the marinade ingredients in a bowl. Put the skirt steak in a large ziplock plastic bag and add the marinade. Seal the bag and make sure the marinade covers the steak. Place in the refrigerator, rotating every now and then, and let marinate for at least 4 hours or over night.
Combine the ingredients for the radish pico de gallo and set aside to give the radishes time to soak up the flavors of the lime juice and rice wine vinegar.
Take steak out of the refrigerator to take off some of the chill while you make the scallion cakes according to your chosen recipe. Cook the steak and bok choy while you fry up the pancakes, keeping pancakes warm in a low temperature oven if necessary.
Preheat broiler or grill. Take out the skirt steak and discard the extra marinade. Sprinkle both sides of the skirt steak with steak seasoning. Grill for 3-4 minutes per side for medium rare or grill longer to your desired degree of doneness. Remove skirt steak to a plate and cover with foil, allowing the steak to rest while you make the bok choy topping.
Heat 2 teaspoons of canola oil and 1/2 teaspoon of sesame oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the chopped bok choy stems and saute until tender, about 3-4 minutes, then add the chopped boy choy leaves, and continue to cook until the leaves have wilted, about another 1-2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Thinly slice the skirt steak against the grain and on a bias. To assemble tacos, place 2-3 slices of skirt steak on each scallion cake. Top with a small pile (about 2 tablespoons) of boy choy then finish with a spoonful of radish pico de gallo. Serve with these Sweet Potato Cilantro cakes if you wish.
Serves 4, with 2-3 tacos each.
CSA Count: 4
Radishes, baby bok choy, cilantro, jalapeno