Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Huli Huli Tacos!

Hi guys!  Long time, no talk!  I took last week off because we moved.  We are all settled in now.  I still have a few boxes in my room left to unpack, but we are pretty much “in” for the most part.  This move reminded me how much I hate moving.  I will live in this house until the day I die.  I don’t care what I have to do to stay here….I will make it happen.  Moving is a nightmare.

Enough bitching….onto the food;)

Think I have talked about this before, but Reno has a pretty good street food scene going on here lately.  Of course, my favorite food truck is Gourmelt.  And not just because they are using my Smoky Chipotle BBQ sauce in their special sandwich of the week this week, but because….it is a truck that serves all grilled cheeses.  Hello…..it doesn’t get any better than that!  The owners are also super cool.  But there is another truck here that I have been fascinated with.  It is called “Kenji’s” and they serve Asian/Mexican fusion as well as some Hawaiian food.

The first time I heard about this truck, I was super excited to go.  Then I checked their Facebook page and found out that they basically only serve in downtown when the bars were closing.  I thought “Perfect!  I will go the next time I am out getting my drink on downtown.”  And then I remembered that I have never done that.  I have never been to the bars in downtown Reno.  I don’t even know what constitutes a cool bar.    And I especially wouldn’t be awake at 2 in the morning.  So I resigned myself to the fact that I would never get to enjoy Kenji’s.  But then…..they showed up at the Spark’s Farmer’s Market.  I got to try their Asian tacos….and I was in love.

Their Asian tacos are grilled chicken or steak that has been marinated in Asian flavors. They serve the tacos on corn tortillas, like a street taco.  They are topped with cilantro, chopped white onion and the most delicious pickle-like cucumber.

I realized that I could pretty easily do this at home.  This will save me the trouble of stalking them at 2am.  I’m not trying to say that I am as cool as them, or my Asian tacos are better….I’m just trying to say that nobody wants this 35 year old downtown at 2am.

I call my Asian tacos Huli Huli Tacos.  You will see why.  They were frickin’ amazing.  Maybe I will get my own food truck.  I will show up at Little League games and elementary schools at pick-up time so moms like me can enjoy a good Asian taco.

I started with chicken thighs, thin cut rib-eye and a bottle of Huli Huli sauce.  Huli Huli sauce is a Hawaiian specialty.  It is basically their BBQ sauce.  It is like soy sauce, but sweeter and it has ginger in it.  It is delicious.  I got my bottle at Cost Plus, but it is pretty easy to find.  I prefer it to regular soy sauce.

If you absolutely can’t find it….use a mix of soy sauce and teriyaki sauce.

I marinated my chicken and steak in Huli Huli sauce overnight.  I rubbed it around every once in a while to make sure it was sinking in.  I really let these bad boys marinate along time.

A couple of hours before I was ready to grill my meats, I made my version of the cucumbers that Kenji’s uses on their tacos.  I may be a complete copy cat, but I keep telling myself that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

I used cucumbers, brown sugar, Huli Huli sauce, rice vinegar, Sriracha hot sauce, garlic, and sesame oil.

I mixed together all the ingredients but the cucumbers.  It won’t seem like much liquid for the amount of cucumber, but remember….as they soak, the salt in the Huli Huli sauce will pull out a lot of moisture.  In fact, there will be so much liquid...you will need a slotted spoon to pull the finished product out.

Toss in your diced up cucumbers and cover this with plastic wrap.  Let the bowl sit in your fridge for a couple of hours.  The cucumbers will soak up all the goodness and become sort of an Asian pickle.

After the chicken has marinated for a super long time….toss it on the grill.  I used my indoor grill because I haven’t managed to find my charcoal yet.  I am pretty sure it got thrown away…..

I grilled it until it was cooked through.  These pieces are pretty small and flat so it went quickly.  About 4 to 5 minutes a side.

I also grilled my steak, about 3 to 4 minutes a side because it was super thin.

Then, I chopped up all the meat into tiny pieces.  Not minced or anything, but smaller than bite sized.

The last step before I assembled my tacos was to make a sauce to drizzle over the tacos.  I used mayonnaise, white sugar and Sriracha hot sauce.

I stirred the 3 ingredients together and poured it into a squirty bottle.  If you don’t have one, don’t sweat it.  You can drizzle the sauce over with a spoon.

I used white corn tortillas.  I used 2 per taco.  I tossed mine on my gas grill to get them a little more pliable.  I set them directly on the burner and cooked both sides for less than a minute.  If you don’t have a gas grill, throw the tortillas on your BBQ if you are outdoor grilling.

Assembly time….

For my chicken taco, I layered the diced chicken, chopped white onion, chopped cilantro, my “pickles” and my special spicy sauce.

Same for my steak taco.

Holy crap…these were so good!  The meat is salty, sweet and so crazy good.  But the best part is the cucumbers mixed with the yummy special sauce. The “pickles” are sweet, salty and spicy.  So, so good.   I don’t want to brag….but Chris ate 8.  And not just because he is freakishly large.  But because they were that good.

Watch out Kenji’s.  I don’t need you and your 2 am truck;)

Huli Huli Tacos

½ pound chicken thighs, boneless and skinless

½ pound thin cut rib-eye, or your favorite cut

1 ½ cups Huli Huli sauce

24 white corn tortillas

½ cup cilantro, chopped

¾ cup white onion, chopped

Special sauce-recipe to follow

Asian “pickles”-recipe to follow

Place chicken and steak in its own re-sealable plastic bag.  Divide Huli Huli sauce equally.  Place meats in fridge and let marinate for at least 8 hours.

Remove meat from marinade and pat dry.  Grill chicken on BBQ, about 4-5 minutes per side.  Let rest.  Grill steak on BBQ, about 3-4 minutes per side.  Let rest. 

Once meats have rested, chop into bite sized pieces.

Warm tortillas on grill to make them pliable.  Place 2 tortillas on plate, right on top of each other.  Layer meat, chopped onion, chopped cilantro, “pickles”, and special sauce. 

Makes 12 tacos

Asian “Pickles”

1 large cucumber, diced

½ cup Huli Huli Sauce

2 tablespoons brown sugar

1 tablespoon rice vinegar

1 teaspoon garlic, minced

1 teaspoon sesame oil

2 dashes Sriracha Hot Sauce

Mix together all ingredients except for cucumbers.  Pour mixture over chopped cucumber.  Cover with plastic wrap and chill for at least 2 hours.

Special Sauce

½ cup mayonnaise

1 tablespoon white sugar

1 to 2 teaspoons Sriracha Hot Sauce

Mix together all ingredients.  Chill until ready to use.

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