Carne Asada is marinated steak grilled and charred, served in a taco with toppings. So, one might ask, how can something so simple be so layered and delicious? The answer lies in the marinade, meat used, and how they all converged in a single tortilla.
As many culinary items imported in Mexico, it starts with either Columbus or, in this case, Cordaro the Conqueror (or Destroyer, or Dietician?). Cattle was non-existent until the Spanish introduced them. After Cortez came to conquer the Americas in 1516, the Spaniards moved their cattle north to El Norte, which was hot and arid, and very similar to the cattle ranches of Spain’s central plains.
The cows brought over from Spain were skinny as the Spaniards prized them for their innards and tallow but not so much for their meat. When the were killed or died naturally, the meat that could be salvaged was sliced thin and tossed atop hot fires to quickly grill. Charred and sliced thin, the meat was made into a taco by wrapping it in a tortilla, spritzing on some lime, and topping it with some avocado and a little pico de gallo.
Carne Asada – Grilled Marinated Steak
- Food Processor or blender
- Grill or heavy bottomed iron skillet
- Gallon plastic freezer bag(s)
- 2 lb Skirt, flap, or hanger steak. Cut with the grain into 5-to-6-inch strips, each 2-inches wide or-so.
- 3 cloves Garlic, peeled
- 2 tbsp Olive oil
- 1 small Can Chipotles in Adobo
- ½ cup Orange juice
- 2 Limes, juiced
- 1 tbsp Soy Sauce
- 1 tbsp Fish sauce, optional
- 1 bunch Cilantro, leaves and thin stems only
- ¼ tsp Each, ground cumin and coriander
- 1 tbsp Brown sugar
- Kosher salt
- Marinate Meat – In a food processor or blender, process all the ingredients, except meat, until smooth. Season to taste with salt. Put steak strips into a plastic freezer bag. Pour in marinade, seal bag squeezing out air and massage marinade into meat. Leave on counter for at least an hour or in the refrigerator for 4-or-more.
- Grill Meat – Heat grill to very hot. Remove meat from marinade and pat dry with paper towels. Place meat on blazing hot grill or skillet. Cook, turning, until charred on both sides, about 8 minutes total. Remove from grill and rest 5 minutes.
- Serve – Serve a whole strip or slice strips thinly across the grain and serve immediately in or with warm tortillas, salsa, lime wedges, sliced avocado, and diced white onion, on the side.
- If you can find, skirt steak make the most flavorful carne.
- To ensure the meat crusts-up quickly, be sure the steaks are completely dry and the grill is as hot as possible.