Carne Asada Grilled Steak Tacos Recipe

It's been too long. A whole year, plus. I just broke my own record for not blogging about tacos. But I'm still eating tacos on a weekly basis, thinking about tacos and talking about tacos, this I assure you.

I've tried a few new places, but none of them floored me enough to create a blog post. I find that the cream of the crop places from two years ago are still on top. For me that is Guerilla Tacos - gourmet, fusion tacos, now in a brick and mortar space in the Arts District (DTLA) and Sonoratown for sublime steak tacos, also in DTLA. As my favorite crispy shrimp tacos, Mariscos Jalisco , are also in DTLA - it's a bit of a trifecta. You can't do much better than that, especially if you are a visiting taco lover.

I also enjoy cooking, as you know from my catalog of awesome recipes, right there in the right margin. I recently feel I've perfected the carne asada taco, including the marinade, maybe the most important part.

I do think that 'smoke matters' but I'll leave the bbq tricks up to the griller and talk mostly about the cut of meat and the marinade.

After living in Mexico (Baja, California Sur) for 6 years, I'm back in L.A. in the exact same guest house I lived in 7 years ago. The best part about sweating it out in the Valley is that I live near Carniceria Don Juan! Located at 14103 Victory Blvd. in Van Nuys, in a Mini Mall on the corner of Victory and Hazeltine. 818 901 8971.

It's a taco shop and a mini tienda market and a meat market. They sell the thinly sliced 'asada' meat which is traditionally made from sirloin butt aka 'flap meat.' It's not Hangar steak or Flank steak in Mexico. That might be the way an upscale, gourmet restaurant does it, but this is a cheap cut of meat, maybe $5 a pound.

They also sell good tortillas - especially Diana's street taco-sized corn. Hard to find in a 'regular' supermarket. Last time I made my own flour tortillas because I haven't found a boutique place making really high quality, translucent not tough, flour tortillas. I wish Sonoratown would open a tortilleria but I know they have to drive all the way to Sonora to get their flour and it's hard enough keeping up with their taco success let alone selling tortillas to the 'stay at home' chefs.

Back to the tacos! Sure, this recipe will work with grass-fed beef from Whole Foods. I tried, but they had trouble slicing the meat thin enough and it tasted tough. That is really the key. the thinness and the flavor, of course. At Don Juan's, you can get the beef seasoned or plain. For this recipe, buy plain but feel free to do a taste test between the two.

NOW for some extra bling (I have Esdras Ochoa to thank for this tip) buy the cut they call Diesmillo. I don't know why they call it that... because it's worth 10x more? Because it tastes like a million bucks? No idea, just buy it. It's usually $2 more per pound. This is the cut that they call 'chuck' what they often use for hamburgers. The topmost part of the forequarter in case you're cutting up your own cow. :)

Best if that steak marinates overnight or at least start in the early morning the same day of the afternoon barbecue. Minimum 6 hours. Garnish with grilled scallions, chiles, avocado, and/or the delicious Emma's Salsa - so easy to make!

MARINADE INGREDIENTS (for 2.5 lbs. of meat)

1/4 cup Red Wine Vinegar or malt vinegar – (no sulfates) I used Trader Joe's Orange Muscat Vinegar
1/4 cup Water
2 Tbsp Vegetable Oil (Grapeseed) not olive oil for smoking factor at high heat! 
2 Tbsp Lime Juice
2 Tbsp Orange Juice (use tangerine if like me you find orange to be too acidic)
2 Tbsp Chopped Cilantro (leave out if you have allergic friends - use parsley instead)
1 Tbsp Minced Garlic (or  pure organic garlic powder with no crap or anti-caking agents)
3/4 Tbsp high quality FINE Sea Salt
1/2 Tbsp White Pepper
1/2 Tbsp Cumin
1/2 Tbsp Chili Powder
1/2 Tbsp White Sesame Seeds (optional but also fun)
1/2 Tbsp 'Mexican' Oregano which is actually Marjoram
1/8 Tsp Ground Cloves (really just a pinch or a pisca, as I like to say)
1 Orange Sliced – Blood Orange? Anything but a dumb ole regular juice orange!!!!!! 
(I'm semi-allergic. I apologize for my disgruntled Orange aggression.)


Add all the ingredients (except the meat and orange slices) to a medium size bowl and stir until blended.

Add the steak and use a fork to flip and coat each entire piece of meat evenly, both sides sloshing in the marinade.

Using a glass baking dish, lay those thinly sliced oranges down first and then lay the meat on top in one layer. Transfer any remaining liquid from your bowl to the baking dish.

Cover with plastic but use some kind of earth-friend bio-degradable cooking plastic. Or put vegetable bags from the supermarket over the glass dish and tie them off to make the whole shebang airtight.

Refrigerate (overnight or at least 6 hours) Before grilling, remove from the refrigerator up to an hour in advance to allow the meat to come to room temperature.

Pre-heat your grill to 'medium high'. Place meat directly on greased grate for 7-8 minutes. You don't want it to be dry and tough but you don't want it 'rare.' Just juicy, seared, grill-striped etc. Adjust to your grill and preference.

Flip and grill for an additional 5-6 minutes. Let rest for 10 minutes before slicing and serving.


ox Taco Maven

1 comment:

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