Carne Asada Tacos
Tacos. In the past few years, this simple dish has been elevated from street food to hipster heaven. Everyone seems to have a favorite taqueria, usually some secret little hole-in-the-wall that looks unassuming but is serving up amazing food. With summer grilling season in full swing, now might be the perfect time to become your own favorite taco-slinger by whipping up some carne asada tacos at home. It’s easier than you might think and more delicious than you could imagine.
Carne asada literally translates to “grilled meat.” Like many culinary traditions (such as barbecue), it was developed as a way to make cheaper and less desirable cuts of meat taste better. In this case, flank or skirt steak is typically used. These are lean cuts of beef, which can be on the tough side if not prepared carefully. Traditionally, the steak is marinated in a combination of chilies, vinegar, garlic, and spices overnight or sometimes even for days to flavor and tenderize the meat. Once the meat has marinated, it is then grilled over hot coals until cooked through. Ideally, it should be seared on the outside, and remain medium-rare inside. Once removed from the heat, the steak is allowed to rest for a few minutes before being sliced. Care should be taken to slice across the grain, as this will further ensure tenderness.
It can be tempting to go overboard with toppings when assembling tacos, and Americans seem to be especially guilty of this. Your average casual restaurant will load on cheese and sour cream and salsa and who knows what else. But one of the true joys of a well-made carne asada is that it doesn’t need all that help to shine. We prefer to let the meat, and all the delicious flavors it has absorbed from the marinade, be the star of the show. Serve it on a corn tortilla. Maybe pair it with some peppers and onions. But keep it simple. Show that humble steak a little respect, and your taste buds will reap the rewards.