carne asada: the asada(ing) of the carne.


 I enjoy any food that isn't stereotypical American. Vietnamese, Lebanese, Japanese, Cantonese - all of these hold a special place in my heart, and belly (I also like other varietites that don't end in 'ese', but these are much more fun to say . . . thai doesn't have nearly the lulling syllables). So the other night, when attempting a 'sous vide' (if you don't know what that is, my explanation and means of cooking can be found here. I decided not to just do the standard North American steak. Instead, I thought Carne Asada would be much more appropriate.   

For one thing, the word Carne makes me think of men, big strong men, ripping into a thick huge steak with their teeth, the juices dribbling down the side of their mouths, absorbed into their thick bushy beards. After being a vegetarian, that's just hot. Dang sexy. The steak I mean. A big, thick, juicy steak. Mmmm. So, any recipe with the word 'Carne' is automatically going to make me try it.  Carne asada literally means 'roasted meat' - that can't mean anything but good. 
Now this dish you could eat alone, and get your protien intake for a week. However, in the streets of Mexico, it is standardly served thinly sliced with cambray onions, lime juice, guacamole, and pico de gallo on a small soft tortilla. That sounds even better than steak alone. 

Traditionally, the steak is a flank or skirt steak - so it has to be marinated for a generous amount of time (I'd say 4-8 hours is good). The basic marinade is garlic, onion, cilantro, black pepper and lime juice, but, as with other marinades, things can be played around with. The trick is also to grill it on high heat, as you would a steak, so the inside remains juicy and the outside is a bit crispy.  

Carne Asada   
(adapted from Mexconnect)

4 Cloves garlic, minced 
1/2 Cup fresh cilantro leaves and stems, chopped finely
1 Jalapeño pepper
2 limes and their juice
1 pepper (diced) with adobe sauce (about 3 tbs. of sauce)  
1 freshly squeezed orange
1/2 cup red wine vinegar (can substitute with white vinegar)
1/2 Cup olive oil
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 Teaspoon cumin
1 tablespoon Mexican oregano

2 lb flank or skirt steak
flour tortillas (I like small ones)
1 onion (sliced)
lime wedges
pico de gallo (recipe follows)

1. Add marinade ingredients to a blender and create a runny paste.** Add salt and pepper to taste. Put the steak in a large baking dish, add the chopped onion and the marinade. Cover and regfridgerate for at least 4 hours. 

2. Do the steaks by way of Sous Vide - instructions on the process can be found here. Or, to be completely loyal to the traditional way of creating Carne Asada, preheat a BBQ. Brush the grill with olive oil so it doesnt stick. Grill to preferred doneness (always consider how thick your steak is). Remove the meat and let it settle for at least 5 minutes. 

3. While the meat is resting, saute the onions from the marinade to add to the tacos. Warm the tortillas for about 30 seconds on each side on the grill. Slice the steak thinly across the grain. 

Enjoy by adding  some sliced steak, onions, pico de gallo and the juice of a lime wedge to each taco. 

**You can also add beer, or a couple tablespoons of vinegar to the marinade. 

Pico de Gallo
(Adapted from the Canadian Living Test Kitchen)

3 cups roma tomatoes (seeded and chopped)
3/4 cup white onion (finely diced) 
1/4 cup cilantro (chopped)
2 tbsp lime juice
1 tbsp jalapeno pepper (minced)
1/4 tsp salt

Stir all ingredients together. Add salt to taste. Let stand for 30 minutes.

Serve on soft tacos with (mmmmmmm)meat or taco chips.