Carne asada tacos

Many thanks, Frankie

Originally appeared in the September 13, 2012 edition of the Southside Times.

It was probably during my fifth or sixth month in my first job at a Mexican restaurant that a cook named Frankie beckoned me to the back of the kitchen.  This was near closing time, and I was at the helm of the expeditor’s station.  I didn’t know what Frankie—a big-shouldered guy with haphazard facial hair and a childlike chuckle—had up his sauce-spattered sleeve; but I was suspicious of the mischievous glint in my amigo’s eye.

“Frankie” was certainly not his real name, but it didn’t matter; like most of the cooks at this establishment (and countless others), “Frankie” was more than a fake-named cook, he was a friend.  On a platter rested three steak tacos, topped with a mix of cilantro, onion, and cradled in warm corn tortillas.  “This is what they should be serving,” said Frankie, vaguely gesturing at the belly of the kitchen.  He squeezed a bit of fresh lime on one of the tacos.  “These are real tacos Mexicanos.”

I gained a great respect for Mexican cuisine—and I’m not talking about the ersatz variety suited to the palates of us gringos.  In the months to come, the cooks (as part of their before- and after-hour rituals) shared with me traditional dishes like chilaquiles and menudo.  So don’t thank me for this recipe.  Thank “Frankie.”

 

Carne asada tacos

Yields six tacos

  • 2 pounds flank or skirt steak, trimmed
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • ½ red onion, minced
  • 1 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • Zest from 1 fresh lime
  • As needed, kosher salt and cracked black pepper
  • 6 white or yellow corn tortillas
  • As needed, sliced fresh lime

1.  Dice steak into small, bite-sized cubes and place in non-reactive bowl.  Add in oil and lime juice, coating steak thoroughly; allow meat to marinate in refrigerator for at least four hours.

2.  Meanwhile, in a bowl combine onion, cilantro, and lime zest along with a small pinch of kosher salt and cracked black pepper.  Set aside.

3.  Place a wide-bottomed sauté pan over medium-high heat; season steak with a small amount of salt and pepper before adding to hot pan.  Sear meat thoroughly on all sides before removing from heat and allowing to rest (for about 7-8 minutes).  Place a separate sauté pan over medium heat and lightly toast corn tortillas on both sides.  Fill the tortillas with seared steak, top with cilantro along with a generous amount of fresh lime juice.

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Published in: on September 13, 2012 at 6:17 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Asian steak tacos

East meets Tex-Mex

Originally appeared in the March 31, 2011 edition of the Southside Times.


The crowds drawn to on-the-go, “streetfood” gurus West Coast Tacos, is a local testament to the macro trend of “fusion”—a movement which, over the past few decades, has been blurring the culinary line between tradition and amalgamation.  In this sense, a humble stack of corn tortillas parts ways with predictable Tex-Mex milieu, and transforms into a three-to-four-bite device, ideal for showcasing flavors which are seldom paired together.  Read the rest after the jump: (more…)

Dr. Mitch’s Cedar Planked, Salmon Tacos

Makes about 12 tacos, or 4 servings

Spice Rub (yields approximately 3 cups)

  • 1 ½ to 2 cups brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons dark roast coffee, coarsely ground
  • 2 tablespoons curry powder
  • ½ teaspoon dried minced onion
  • 2 tablespoons fresh cracked black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder

Ensalada for Tacos

  • ½ cup chopped, fresh cilantro leaves
  • ½ cup chopped, fresh, flat leaf parsley
  • ½ cup chopped, fresh green onion
  • 1 fresh pasilla chile, roasted, stemmed, seeded, chopped
  • 1 fresh Anaheim chile, roasted, skinned, chopped
  • 1 bag coleslaw mix kit
  • 1 Serrano chile, fine dice
  • ½ tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • 3 pounds wild salmon fillet, boneless, skinless
  • 2 cedar grilling planks (soaked in water for 3-4 hours)
  • 2 dozen corn tortillas (two for each taco)
  • ½ pound Cotija (or feta) cheese
  • Optional:  store-bought mango salsa

1.  Arrange the grill for direct-heat cooking, and heat coals to medium-high.

2.  For spice rub, mix all ingredients in a bowl—set aside.

3.  Combine all ensalada ingredients in a bowl, mix together thoroughly, and place in refirgerator.

4.  Cut salmon into three equal sections and place on the pre-soaked cedar planks.  Heartily coat salmon with the dry rub.

5.  Place planks on the grill.  Cover with lid until rub has melted and has completely coated the salmon (about 7 to 10 minutes). Remove grill lid.

6.  When salmon has firmed up, remove planks from grill and cover with aluminum foil.  Allow fish to rest for approximately 3 to 5 mintues.  Meanwhile, warm corn tortillas on the grill.  Remove and reserve.

7.  Back to the fish:  Add fillets to a large bowl and break apart slightly.  Use two, overlapping corn tortillas for each taco.  Scoop some of the broken salmon into the tortillas, add ensalada, and top with mango salsa.  Serve with a chilled can of Tecate or Modelo Especial.

Published in: on August 26, 2010 at 6:09 am  Leave a Comment  
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