Carne Asada, or “roast meat” is a Mexican dish that’s commonly associated with barbecues. The spices used vary by region, but carne asada is almost always made with thin, cheap cuts of beef such as skirt steak or hanger steak. They may not be the most tender cuts, but boy howdy! they sure pack a wallop of flavour.
Not only does this Carne Asada do a good job balancing the salt and spices with the fresh tang of limes and cilantro, it’s cheap, and easy to make. The marinade helps tenderize the meat, and if you’re rushing off to a mid summer barbecue, you can always add a bit of kiwi to recruit the services of its enzymes. These microscopic thugs will gleefully beat the crap out of any uncooperative strands of protein in the meat.
While you could just grill this up and eat it like a steak, I like chopping up the Carne Asada and stuffing it into fresh homemade tortillas to make tacos. It’s also great in a torta with some avocado and cilantro.
My original Carne Asada post from over two years ago was the second post on this blog. It was back before I had the patience to photograph my food, and long before I started to measure and document the ingredients and steps. I debated whether to post about it again, but Carne Asada is one of my favourite preparations for beef, so I figured I should do it justice with an updated post.
Equipment you'll need:
makes 8-10 tacos
1 skirt steak or 2 hanger steaks
juice of 1 limes
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup minced cilantro
1-2 Serrano chillies, minced (to taste)
1 tablespoons minced garlic
1 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoons ground coriander seed
1/2 teaspoons Mexican oregano
1/4 teaspoons ground cumin seed
2 teaspoons kosher salt (less if using table salt)
black pepper to taste
1 tablespoons pureed kiwi (optional)
1/4 cup sweet onions minced
1/4 cup cilantro minced
1 batch of homemade tortillas
Combine all the marinade ingredients in a large Ziploc bag. Kiwi has a powerful enzyme called actinidin that breaks down protein, making it a great addition to the marinade if you don’t plan on letting the meat marinate overnight. Taste it and add more salt or sugar if needed. It should be relatively salty, but not so salty that it burns your tongue. The sugar is a personal preference thing. If you like it sweeter, add more sugar. Add the meat to the bag, squeeze out as much air as you can and seal the bag. Let this marinate for at least 1 hour, or preferably overnight in the refrigerator.
When you’re ready to grill the meat, remove it from the refrigerator about 30 minutes before cooking to allow it to come to room temperature. This helps ensure the Carne Asada will cook evenly. If you’re using a broiler, move the rack to the top position and turn the broiler on high, with a grilling rack on top of a baking sheet. Scrape any excess marinade off the meat and place the meat on the grill. Cook until nicely browned on one side, flip and brown the other side. Skirt steak will cook much faster than hanger steak, so be careful not to overcook it.
Transfer the Carne Asada to a cutting board and let it rest for at least 5 minutes. Use a sharp knife to roughly chop up the meat then add it to a bowl with the sweet onions, cilantro, and any juices that accumulated on the baking sheet or cutting board.
Serve the Carne Asade with fresh tortillas and Pico De Gallo.