Carnitas Taco Bowls with Kimchi are bursting with flavor! Crispy carnitas, a spicy chili aioli and kimchi combine to make the most amazing rice bowls!
I have become a bit obsessed with carnitas – the salty, citrusy, crispy pork that is so popular in Mexican cuisine. This recipe makes it so easy to prepare at home using your crockpot. The meat is slow-cooked in a blend of spices and citrus juices until falling apart. Once cooked, it’s shredded and finished off under the broiler to get those crispy, browned edges.
But, I also love using my Instant Pot to make carnitas! If you’ve got one, hop on over to check out this post on how to make carnitas in your Instant Pot. Now that the Instant Pot has entered my life… you’ll find me making carnitas this way now. It’s absolutely so much quicker (perfect for last minute meal planning) and I find that the pork takes on a lot more flavor too.
This dish ventures away from your typical Mexican street food. Taking a cue from my favorite Korean (Bulgogi) Beef Tacos. The flavors are a bit unexpected, but they go so well together!
I’m topping these rice bowls with quick-pickled onions, along with kimchi and a spicy garlic aioli. The tangy, sweet-sour flavors of the onions are a great partner to the spicy kimchi. And, your basic sour cream is replaced by a creamy chili aioli, spiced up with the same flavors in the carnitas. Then I’m topping everything off with some chopped cilantro and avocado. Yum!
Note: You can make those pretty pink pickled onions up to two weeks ahead of time. In truth, I normally have a jar in my fridge at all times. I’ve even got an entire post dedicated to how I pickle my onions. I love having them on hand for topping all kinds of things – salads, my Instant Pot Split Pea Dal, even scrambled eggs.
Also – if you want a true adventure, you can try making the kimchi at home too! It will take a trip to the asian foods store and a bit of patience (it takes a week or so to ferment) but it really is so worth it! I love the flavors of this homemade kimchi, but store bought kimchi works too – Look for it in the refrigerated section of your grocery store.
Regardless of whether you make your carnitas in the slow cooker or in the instant pot, or whether your kimchi is fermented in your fridge for a week or simply picked up at the store, I’m pretty sure you’re going to love these Carnitas Taco Bowls with Kimchi. Let me know what you think in the comments below!
Carnitas Taco Bowls with Kimchi
- 3/4 - 1 cup Kimchi (roughly chopped)
- 2 cups cooked rice
- 1 avocado (sliced)
- 1/4 cup cilantro (chopped)
- 1/4 cup green onions (chopped)
- 4-6 lbs . pork shoulder (slightly trimmed of excess fat)
- 1 tbsp . garlic salt
- 1 tbsp . cumin
- 2 tsp . dried oregano
- 2 tsp . brown sugar
- 1 tsp . dried basil
- 1 tsp . ground coriander
- 1 tsp . chili powder
- 1 tsp . paprika
- 2 in oranges (sliced half)
- 1 in lime (sliced half)
- Pickled Onions
- 1 red onion (halved and thinly sliced)
- ½ cup apple cider vinegar
- ¼ cup freshly squeezed lime juice
- ⅛ - ¼ cup sugar
- ½ tablespoon kosher salt
- Pinch crushed red pepper flakes
- Chili Garlic Aioli
- ⅓ cup sour cream
- ¼ cup mayonnaise
- 2 tablespoons Korean chili powder
- 1 clove garlic (grated with microplane, or very finely minced)
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ⅛ teaspoon paprika
- ⅛ teaspoon onion powder
- ⅛ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon cumin
- ⅛ teaspoon black pepper
- Combine garlic salt, chili powder, dried oregano, dried basil, cumin, ground coriander, brown sugar, and sweet paprika.
- Rub the spice mixture evenly over the pork. Place pork in the bottom of a slow cooker.
- Squeeze the juice from the oranges and limes over the pork. Place rinds pulp side down in slow cooker over the meat.
- Cover and cook on low for 10-12 hours, or until pork is tender and falling off the bone. Use a fork to pull away from bone and discard it.
- Preheat oven broiler. Line a half sheet pan with parchment paper and arrange pork in a single layer.
- Taste the pork for saltiness. You may want to sprinkle some additional salt on top. (I especially like using my homemade citrus salts at this stage of the recipe!)
- Place underneath broiler until tips of pork are browned and slightly crisp, about 3-5 minutes. (Don’t walk away from it. Keep an eye on meat to make sure it doesn’t burn or become overly browned).
- Add sliced onions to a medium bowl. Pour enough boiling water over them to fully cover and count to 10. Drain onions and place in jar or bow.
- Heat vinegar, lime juice, ⅛ cup sugar, chili flakes and salt in small saucepan over medium heat until sugar has dissolved, about 3 minutes.
- Taste for sweetness and add more sugar as needed.
- Pour vinegar mixture over onions.
- Allow to stand at room temperature, until fully cooled. Cover and refrigerate up to 2 weeks.
Chili Garlic Aioli
- Mix all ingredients together until well combined. Refrigerate until ready to use. Can be made up to 3 days ahead of time.
- Place a scoop of rice in each bowl, top with carnitas, pickled onions and chopped kimchi. Finish with a sprinkling of chopped cilantro, green onions, avocado, and chili-garlic aioli.
If you loved these Carnitas Taco Bowls with Kimchi I would appreciate it so much if you would give this recipe a star review! Also, be sure to snap a picture of your finished bowl and share it with me on Instagram using the hashtag #platingsandpairings and tagging me @platingsandpairings.
Wine Pairings for Taco Bowls with Kimchi:
- White: Go for an off-dry white sparkling Grüner Veltliner or a Riesling, perfect companions for the spices and tangy notes of the kimchi and the richness of the pork.
- Red: A Beaujolais Nouveau (served slightly chilled) is low in tannins and brings out the fruity notes of the kimchi, rather that its spices.
- Margaritas – Try this one, this one, or this one.