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This Korean-Mex dish combines Bulgogi beef, tortillas, tomato-corn salsa

Addie Broyles
Austin 360
Beef bulgogi tostadas from "Double Happiness Cookbook" by Trevor Lui.

Trevor Lui started working in his parents' restaurant when he was a kid, eventually working his way up to the wok station, a hot, fast job that taught him almost everything he needed to know about food.

Almost. Lui worked in marketing and event planning for a few decades before returning to the kitchen as a chef and food brand developer behind Highbell Group, which is named for the restaurant he spent so much time in as the son of Chinese immigrants in Toronto. Lui now oversees a number of buzzy food concepts, including Joybird and Makan Noodle Bar, and in non-pandemic times, his team hosts pop-up restaurants and culinary events to bring people together over good food. 

Lui tells his story and shares 88 recipes inspired by this experience as a first-generation Chinese Canadian in his new book, "The Double Happiness Cookbook" ($32.99, Figure 1 Publishing). The book features some of the dishes he grew up cooking, including sweet and sour chicken balls and chow mein, as well as the dishes that have earned him acclaim as a restaurateur, such as BBQ pork on rice, sweet chili cauliflower wings and these Korean-Mexican bulgogi beef tostadas that include slices of pear and a garnish of tomato-corn salsa, lime crema and avocado. 

If you don't want to fry the tortillas to make them crispy, you could make the bulgogi, salsa and crema and serve this dish as a taco, or you could use store bought tostadas. 

'The Double Happiness Cookbook' is the first book from Toronto chef Trevor Lui.

Bulgogi Beef Tostadas

In this recipe, sweet, grilled Korean BBQ beef, known as bulgogi, is offset by the freshness of a tomato-corn salsa and lime crema. Add the crunchy saltiness of the tostada and you’ve got yourself a perfect bite of food. This dish can be made gluten-free by using tamari instead of soy sauce. Fry oil can be reused several times. Allow the oil to cool, then use a utensil to remove any pieces of batter that might be left in it.

— Trevor Lui

For the bulgogi beef:

3 to 4 slices ginger 

1 clove garlic, coarsely chopped

1/2 pear, unpeeled, cut into sixths, and deseeded 

1 tablespoon canola oil

1/2 teaspoon brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon sesame seeds

1/2 teaspoon soy sauce or tamari

9 ounces beef flank, thinly sliced on a bias

For the tomato-corn salsa:

1 Roma tomato, seeded and finely chopped

2 sprigs cilantro, finely chopped

1/2 jalapeño, seeded and finely chopped

1/3 cup corn kernels

1/4 small red onion, finely chopped 

1 teaspoon canola oil

Salt and black pepper to taste

For the lime crema:

1/4 cup sour cream

Juice of 1/2 lime

Salt and black pepper to taste

For assembly:

2 1/2 cups canola oil

8 (4-inch) corn tortillas

Salt, to taste

1 cup chopped iceberg lettuce

1 ripe avocado, pitted and thinly sliced

1/2 cup finely chopped kimchi

1 spring onion, finely chopped

2 tablespoons crumbled cotija cheese 

1 tablespoon toasted black sesame seeds

2 sprigs cilantro, hand torn

Lime wedges, to serve

Radishes, sliced, to serve (optional)

To make the beef: Combine all ingredients except beef in a bowl. Add beef to the marinade, stirring to coat. Cover and refrigerate for at least 8 hours. 

For the tomato-corn salsa, combine all ingredients in a bowl. Refrigerate until needed. To make the crema, combine all ingredients in a bowl. Refrigerate until needed.

Heat 2 1/2 cups oil in a deep wok or frying pan over high heat to a temperature of 400 degrees. Add tortillas, two at a time, and deep-fry for 2 to 3 minutes, until crisp and golden brown. Using metal tongs, transfer to a plate lined with paper towel to drain. Season with salt. Repeat with the remaining tortillas. Keep warm.

Heat 2 tablespoons of the same oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat. Gently lower bulgogi beef into oil and cook for 1 minute. Turn over and cook for another minute, until beef is cooked to medium. Using a metal slotted spoon, transfer to a plate lined with paper towel to drain. 

Place lettuce on each fried tortilla, then add 2 slices of avocado. Top with kimchi, bulgogi beef, and tomato-corn salsa. Using a squeeze bottle, drizzle with lime crema and garnish with spring onions, cotija, sesame seeds and cilantro. Serve immediately with lime wedges and radishes. Makes 8. 

— From "The Double Happiness Cookbook: 88 Feel-Good Recipes and Food Stories" by Trevor Lui ($32.99, Figure 1 Publishing)