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Kimchi Pineapple Tacos 3 Ways

Several posts ago I shared a unique Kimchi Pineapple recipe from Koreatown: A Cookbook by Deuki Hong & Matt Rodbard, after hearing reader and personal friend Ken W. rant and rave over how awesome it is. I ended up making it myself, and it truly was not just awesome, but ADDICTIVE. The kind of Kimchi “snack” you can’t stop eating! Well, at least if you’re into that kind of thing, as I have become.

I noted at the end of that recipe post that I’d follow-up with making Kimchi Pineapple Tacos, thus here we are today. Yay! Or should we say “Ariba! Ariba! Ariba!” I honestly don’t even know what that means, but it sounds cheerful. lol

Rafute (Okinawan style Shoyu Pork) Kimchi Pineapple Taco

First up is exhibit A, a Rafute Kimchi Pineapple Taco. Which for those of you who don’t know what Rafute is (pronounced “ddah’foo-tay”), it’s Okinawan style Shoyu Pork, made with very fatty pork belly. Oh yes, Pork fat rules, baby! Rafute is simmered for a while to make it melt-in-your-mouth tender, while the sweetened shoyu marinade is completely permeated within it. It’s oishii to da’ max.

Now combine Okinawan Shoyu Pork Belly with Kimchi Pineapple, a simple cabbage slaw that’s been tossed with a dressing made of honey, shoyu, vinegar, sesame oil and mayonnaise, along with cilantro (Chinese parsley), thinly sliced bell peppers, carrots and onions, all on a toasty warmed and softened flour tortilla (Sinaloa brand in this case), and what do you get?

Pfft. Dude. Winnahz! That’s what you get! I knew going in this that pineapple would totally rock with pork, however taking it to this next level, where the pineapple has been “Kimchi-fied”, along with the pork that’s been “Rafute-fied”? Nuts brah, that’s all I have to say. Freakin’ awesome nuts!

Kalua Pig Kimchi Pineapple Taco

Next up, we have exhibit B, a Kalua Pig Kimchi Pineapple taco, with the same other accompanying ingredients as in exhibit A before that. Again, knowing pineapple would rock with pork in a taco, yet taking to the next level where not only is the pineapple “Kimchi-fied”, but then you get the pork that’s got that smokey accent, and BOOM! Yet another one that’s in it to win it!

Mahimahi Fish Kimchi Pineapple Taco

Last but definitely not least, we have exhibit C in the form of a Mahimahi Fish Kimchi Pineapple Taco. Again, all the same other “stuffs” as exhibit A and B, except in this case, we deviate from pork and go with a fresh cut of Mahimahi that was caught while sport fishing in the Ala Wai Canal — just kidding — caught off Hawaiian waters (according the label on the tray). Here, all I did was simply sautee the Mahimahi in butter, seasoning again simply with kosher salt and fresh-cracked black pepper. ‘Nuff. Throw two huge slabs of delicately cooked Mahi in the taco with da’ ‘odda stuffs, and?

Yup, this one wins as my favorite of all. Mainly because it’s lighter, while surprisingly, the Kimchi Pineapple was rockin’ it with the fish even more than with the pork. Go figure. Seriously, you could just saute the Mahimahi, and then top it with the Kimchi Pineapple, perhaps dicing it smaller so it’s more like a salsa, and that would totally be worthy of a dish served in the likes of Alan Wongs or Roys, the combination worked that well. I mean, of all the three, this Mahimahi Kimchi Pineapple Taco tasted the most gourmet of the bunch. Like never mind eating this with a cold beer. Serve it with a glass of Riesling or Chardonnay and it would probably elevate this to a whole new level.

All in all, this Kimchi Pineapple Taco “experiment” was totally worth the effort. They all turned out absolutely broke da’ mout’ winnahz, where if you ever make Kimchi Pineapple yourself, I’d highly recommend you take it to the next level and go “fusion” in the form of tacos. Ariba!

Related links:
Koreatown: A Cookbook – Amazon
Kimchi Pineapple Recipe – The Tasty Island

P.S. The Kimchi “Bar” at Palama Market (Makaloa St. location, next to the Kaheka Don Quijote)…

Seasoned Oyster ($12.99/lb.) and Seasoned Soybean with Soy Sauce ($7.99/lb.)

Seasoned Taegu ($12.99/lb.) and Seasoned Dried Squid ($12.99/lb.)

Seasoned Raw Crab ($14.99/lb.) and Seasoned Spicy Anchovy ($19.99/lb.)

Palama Won Bok Kimchi ($6.99/lb.) and Daikon Kimchi ($4.99/lb.)

Seasoned Namul ($5.99/lb.) and Book Trip ($12.99/lb.)

Seasoned Gobo ($8.99/lb.) and Spicy Seasoned Squid ($9.99/lb.)

Fried Crab with Oyster Sauce ($14.99/lb.) and Seasoned Chicken with Soy Sauce ($6.99/lb.) 

Seasoned Fried Tofu ($4.99/lb.) and Seasoned Fish Cake ($7.99/lb.)

Seasoned Fried Chicken ($6.99/lb.)

Kim Chee (<— they spell it that way) selection at Foodland (Market City Shopping Center location)…

Imitation Crab Kim Chee Poke…

White Crab Kim Chee Poke…

Sunset at Dukes Waikiki Beach this past Sunday…


8 thoughts on “Kimchi Pineapple Tacos 3 Ways

  • November 11, 2016 at 12:18 pm

    I encourage everyone to try that kimchee bar. It is finest in the State and I suspect the freshest. You can eat off the floor of this store. They dust cans even.

  • November 11, 2016 at 9:07 pm

    As you know, I paired kimchi pineapple with seared boneless center pork loin accompanied with Won Bok kimchee and Maui pickled sweet onions and it was da bomb just like your tacos! I never tried Palama Market’s, Aiea Kim Chee Bar because I always go to Foodland, Kapolei which has a fantastic kimchee bar. You got to go to Palama Market and get a real bag of course ground Korean red chili pepper (gochugaru) $6.99 which is what all the recipes in the book are based on. Korean chili peppers have a taste like no other chili peppers so you can’t really duplicate the taste or the heat of the recipe. Your Hawaiian ground chili pepper is finer ground and possibly higher heat.

  • November 12, 2016 at 1:29 am

    @ pat – from what I hear, Palama Market’s house-made Kimchi is THE BEST, beating out most of the bottled brands. Which of course they also sell bottled, too, but I’d rather go with the fresh stuff at the Kimchi bar. I’m really curious how that Kimchi Crab tastes.

    @ Ken – As you would expect, Palama Market has more varieties and brands of Kochugaru (red chili pepper powder) than auto dealers have used cars (exaggerated). From course to fine. Usually in bags too big for my personal need. Adding to the confusion are the wide varieties of red chili pepper PASTE (Kochujang).  I got the KOHO brand from Don Quijote not just out of convenience, but mainly because it came in a bag that was the perfect size for my initial trial run. I really didn’t have a problem with the “heat” level. DQ also sells the main brands of Kochugaru that Palama Market carries.

    Other than genetics, I’m curious if red chili pepper (usually in the form of Kimchi, as well as their traditional diet in general) is what gives Korean people such beautiful skin. Especially the women, where their facial skin is so smooth and poreless, they look like a porcelain doll. The building I live in has lots of Korean folks, and I always notice every Korean woman (and some men) have such beautiful, youthful skin, even the ones in their 40s and up in age.

    Speaking of that, I also notice this VERY INTERESTING cultural “thing” Korean couples have, where the woman ALWAYS stays BEHIND the man. For instance, in a car, the girlfriend or wife never rides tandem in the front passenger seat while the man drives. She always sits in the back seat. The back seat, with front passenger seat empty! Like they’re catching cab. So strange!  Then when they get out of the car, the woman follows behind the man as they walk to the elevator, at least several feet in distance. If the man stops for some reason, the woman stops behind him, never daring to catch up to him. Dude, it’s really weird. where they clearly live in a male-dominated society, as is the case with the Japanese and Muslims, yet it seems even more extreme in that regard.

    I asked this one white American guy in our building I always talk to who has a Korean wife (from Korea), and they don’t recognize that, but he said, YES, it’s definitely a Korean cultural “thing”.

    I can only imagine what it’s like at home for these Korean couples when it comes to kitchen and table etiquette. Perhaps someone who lived or is Korean out there who reads this blog can address this more accurately than I can.

    Oh, and there’s this other interesting Korean “thing” I notice, especially on the Korean dramas (my mom watches them 24/7!): when they eat, they often totally stuff their mouth with food, practically to the point where their cheeks are swelling out, as if they’ve got a baseball in their mouth. It’s absolutely fascinating! It’s like they’re afraid someone’s going to eat their food, so they attempt to get as much as they can in one bite. Crazy! Like say a boiled egg, which the Koreans LOVE. Normally when you eat a boiled egg, you take bites at it, perhaps four or five bites before it’s gone, right? Not the Koreans, nope. They pop that whole sucker in their mouth like Godzilla. Nuts! Try watch a Korean show, either drama or real life travel show, and you’ll see exactly what I’m talking about.

    • November 12, 2016 at 7:22 pm

      I purchased a small bag 16 oz. bag of course ground Korean Extra Hot Kochugaru (red chili pepper powder) in Palama Market for $6.99. Yellow and Green bag Distributed by H & K Inc., 1240 Dillingham Blvd., Honolulu, HI. I zip lock the bag and store in refrigerator what I don’t use in recipe. That is the recommended Kochugaru for all the recipes in the book “Koreantown”.
      The authors of the cookbook do not recommend purchasing fine ground Kochugaru or dark red berry type Kochugaru because those are hotter especially the closer to the berry the hotter the heat.
      The taste of the Korean chili peppers cannot be duplicated because of the pepper plant DNA which is only to Korea, soil, water and weather.
      Pomai, don’t forget Korean diet consists of some meat and plenty of fish and a lot of organic vegetables plus plenty of fermented foods almost like Japanese but they pickle everything.
      Yes Korean women are like porcelain dolls and you better treat them as such. Once you start dating one she will want accesses to your cellphone to check if you are cheating on her. Everything you do will be relayed to her girlfriends as a see what type of man I got challenge including dating relationship rings, all the high maintenance gifts you will give her and if she takes you home to meet mom and dad you might as well purchase the diamond wedding bands the next day. Never cross a Korean woman as hell hath no fury more than a Korean woman scorned. She will find a way to make your life a living hell after you dump her.
      Your first problem with Korean women behind men has a very short etiquette answer, men are the protectors and they will see trouble first and fight to protect and keep the lady safe.
      Your second problem relates to us senior citizens who are highly regarded and respected. Korean food and table etiquette is never start a meal first before the elder at the table; wait for the elder to pick up his/her spoon first and never, never finish a meal before the elder. You must pace yourself so both you and elder finish meal together at same time.
      That etiquette advice being said, we all know as we grow older we have a tendency to eat less so as a strapping youngster or middle age adult you got to get your fill before the eldest at table fills up way before your three servings get into you!

    • November 13, 2016 at 3:52 pm

      Safeway, at least here on Kauai, has a Kimchee Dungenous Crab poke that is beyond ono.

  • November 12, 2016 at 6:12 am

    Pomai, my firends from mainland hear of new fried chicken place and

    businese called Krispy Kunchy Chicken.  It funny comspect is opening

    in hole in wall places.  Like mom pop grocery stores and gas stations

    and some Walmart stores.  There one in San Francisco that 24 hours and

    sell breakfast too.  My friends said that they run out of chicken almost end

    day due to so popular.  It rival to popeyes.  Corp is looking more people

    to invest in businese now.

  • November 14, 2016 at 11:44 am

    @ Amy – Never heard of Krispy Krunchy Chicken. I remember Church’s Chicken made a comeback in Waikiki, but they didn’t last more than a couple years. There’s a bunch of Cajun places that opened up who tout great fried chicken. I personally try to stay away from the stuff. Too heavy.

    @ Pat– Yeah, I’ll probably get that Kimchi Crab next time I Palama Market. Looks the most interesting.

    @ Ken – Didn’t know the book advised on a specific type of Kochugaru. It didn’t say anything in the forward for the Kimchi Pineapple recipe. Only on the brand of Fish Sauce.

    Someone I know used to work with a guy who dated a Korean gal (from Korea),  and she always gave HELL for anything she didn’t like (like if he went out with friends), while also being super high maintenance. Not being prejudice myself, just saying what he experienced.

    Thanks for doing the research on Korean etiquette. I’ll get a third opinion on this one (South) Korean woman I talk to on occasion who parks her car near mine in my building.



    • November 14, 2016 at 12:48 pm

       In the Ingredients Section of the cookbook when they get to; “Red Chile Powder (Gochugaru) Korean red chile powder is sold both coarsely and finely ground. The flavor is sweet and ever-so-slightly smokey, but the main function is to add heat. As you will find out, this food can be H-O-T. We’re not going to say this often, but it’s essential to buy gochugaru, as cayenne or crushed red pepper flakes will just not work the same. We’ve written all these recipes precisely for the flavor and heat level of gochugaru. Prices can range from a couple dollars to nearly twenty for Merck-grade artisanal finely ground seeds, which is where the dark heart of the heat lives. Matt once bought a small bag at Tongin Market in Seoul and cooked with it back in New York. That was not pretty.”
       No problem on foreign country ethnic etiquette stuff as I use to do a lot of flying to different countries and had to quickly bone up on ethnic dos and don’ts. Glad I could help!


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