Love is not convenient, love has its own agenda. So marry me, Korean short rib tacos!
Had a beer the other night, and it helped me sleep, though it could’ve been the Korean short rib tacos I’d had for dinner, another Trader Joe’s production. I once thought TJ’s to be overrated. Now that I know what to get, I see TJ’s as a form of very tasty penicillin. It cures what ails you.
So, in short, it could’ve been the beer, could’ve been the tacos. As with all studies, I will keep testing till we settle on a solution.
Leave it said, that Korean short rib tacos might cure vertigo, depression, chicken pox, mononucleosis, lupus, losing streaks, bad breath, boredom, gout, disenchantment, poverty and a general lack of initiative. And now, perhaps, insomnia.
Dogpark Gary was telling a story the other day about how, when he was a kid, he climbed the scaffolding of the church steeple they were building near his house. Halfway up, God knocked him off.
When he staggered home, bloody and dazed, Gary’s mother tried to choke him to death, stressed as she was over being a young single mom, and now having to clean up all that blood…the clothes. The poor woman just sort of snapped, the way stressed-out crazy people do.
Dogpark Gary, then 10 or so, thought to himself, “Well, this isn’t going to be a good day, is it?” Two institutions were ganging up on him, Motherhood and the Protestant Church, and in that instant, when she’s trying to choke him, it might’ve been easy for Gary to lose faith in just about everything.
Yet, what it did was toughen him up for the future challenges he would face later. Military service, to name one. Marriage to name another.
So I said, “Listen Dogpark Gary, in my experience moms are all a little crazy.”
I explained that it’s the kids that make them nuts, and their husbands too when they get playful and silly, which is how husbands blow off stress (many women have yet to figure this out).
So Dogpark Gary shouldn’t blame his mother at all. She was just having a day.
Besides, everyone’s a little nuts.
At a Zoom fund-raiser the other night, I was explaining to 100 people how White Fang likes to sit in the bathroom and watch me shower. Obviously, dogs are kind of nuts too.
In short: It’s normal to be nuts. There should be no stigma.
Anyway, I’ve been battling insomnia. It’s such an easy thing. You just lie there. It comes to you like room service. Knock. Knock. Hello?
Insomnia is a swift kick in the butt, a reminder of your mental tilt. I mean, you’re flying along on all the usual anxieties – on your own personal airline of anxieties and worry, addressing the things you can, ignoring those you can’t, thinking you’ve got life pretty figured out, and suddenly you can’t sleep so well.
I try to undermine the insomnia. “Oh good, you’re back,” I tell it, like it’s no big thing.
Then I do what I’ve always done when I toss and turn, I think of sledding as a kid. When that doesn’t work, I think of women. Then I think of sledding with women.
When that doesn’t work, I think of Korean short rib tacos, my latest passion and quite possibly the love of my life.
We’ve only dated once, these short ribs, but I already can see a future together. Under California’s COVID protocols, you can now date food the way you once dated people, and in extreme cases, marry it.
Down on one knee, I’ll soon ask: “Korean short rib tacos, you look delicious tonight. I know we’ve only known each other a short time. But love is not convenient, love has its own agenda. And when it comes along, you just have to grab for it, the way you do a bag of ballpark peanuts. Capeesh?”
I hope she says yes. Who can resist a guy who still says capeesh? I’ve always lived life like some sort of “Goodfellas” sequel.
Here’s what happened: My daughter Rapunzel stopped by the other morning, when she was still a little hungover, and took her brother along to shop at Trader Joe’s.
I slipped Smartacus 80 bucks and whispered: “Listen, she’s a genius at this Trader Joe’s stuff. Whatever she buys, you buy. Just follow her around and copy whatever she buys.”
“What about beer?” Smartacus asked.
“Especially that,” I said.
They returned home with these Korean short ribs, some Marsala chicken and a shrimp dish that I’m making tonight.
The Marsala chicken was outstanding (sauté 6 chicken thighs, add Marsala sauce. Boom!).
But what really took over my life were these short-rib tacos. Rapunzel’s recipe called for a lot of cutting and chopping and exotic ingredients – I’ve been cooking seriously for only about 6 days.
But I was done in 20 minutes.
Wow. Just wow.
Here’s the recipe. Please don’t blame me if you become obsessive about them.
In defense of obsession, it sometimes helps you sleep, even as it derails other aspects of your life.
Like mothers, obsessions can mold us into the sleepless people we are today.
Let me ask you something: Where else do you get whacky wisdom like this? Fortune cookies? Winos? Your mother-in-law?
You’re welcome very much.
KOREAN SHORT RIB TACOS
(courtesy of Rapunzel Erskine)
Approximate cooking time: 20 minutes. Serves 2-3 people.
- Taco Meat
- 1 package Bool Koji, Korean sesame marinated boneless beef ribs from TJs
- Cabbage slaw
- 2½ cups shredded red cabbage (also available at TJs)
- 1½ teaspoons rice wine vinegar
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- ½ teaspoon sugar
- Pickled cucumbers
- 1 large English cucumber – thinly sliced
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- ½ teaspoon sesame oil
- For serving
- Cilantro (optional)
- Sesame seeds (optional)
- Bok choy to have on the side (optional)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- Bok choy rinsed, dried and halved lengthwise
- 1 teaspoon fish sauce
- Cook the meat: Set the meat out to let it get closer to room temp – cook to packaged instructions however you prefer, I normally do stove stop or in the oven depending on how much time I have!
- Make the pickled cucumbers –
- Add the thinly sliced cucumbers and sea salt in a medium bowl and toss it around. Let it sit for about 10 to 15 minutes or until the salt draws out some of the liquid from the cucumbers.
- If it’s too salty, rinse it under water and gently squeeze out the water. Add the sesame oil and gently toss it together. Set it aside.
- Make the red cabbage slaw
- In a large bowl, mix together the shredded red cabbage, rice wine vinegar, sea salt, and sugar.
- Let it sit until the cabbage starts to wilt and absorbs the dressing.
- Sear the bok choy to serve on the side (optional but very good)
- In a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat the olive oil
- Sear the bok choy until golden brown, 3-4 min per side
- Add the fish sauce and season with pepper to taste (fish sauce is salty so no salt needed)
- Assemble the tacos
- Spoon the Korean beef on top of the tortillas and add the red cabbage slaw and pickled cucumbers.
- Top with any of the following – kimchi, sesame seeds, scallions, and cilantro leaves. Serve with lime wedges.