One thing you may not know about me is that I admire classic Mexican preparation in cooking. While I may not be able to recreate the most perfect carne asada street taco I’ve ever experienced when visiting La Merced Market, I can whip out my own version I mastered a few years back. My skirt steak asada tacos are a dish I’ve cooked at tailgates here and there during grill season, and they’re the closest recipe to authentic Mexican tacos I’ve developed. They are assembled the traditional way, with just the meat, some chopped onion and cilantro, and a sprinkling of fresh lime. I also add a pureed Poblano sauce for a little extra oomph.
The taco is an ancient tradition with over five hundred years of history. More than anything else, the key for Mexican authenticity in this dish is serving your skirt steak asada taqueria style on soft corn tortillas, unlike eighty percent of Americanized tacos. Mexican shops carry authentic tortillas or you can even make them from scratch yourself using Masa Harina (“dough flour”) and water. Masa harina is most commonly used to make tortillas, but it is also featured in other incredible dishes including tamales and pupusas.
When making pureed sauces, Poblano peppers are one of my favorite varieties to use because they are as flavorful as they are gorgeous in color. Originating in the state of Puebla, Mexico, the Poblano pepper is a mild chili pepper that can be consumed cooked or dried, but is rarely eaten in raw form. Like many ingredients, the finest quality of texture and flavor in Poblano peppers is brought out when added to heat. They are delicious charred, roasted or placed directly over flame and blistered. When dried, this pepper is referred to as the ancho and used in various Mexican and Spanish dishes to add some kick. If you prefer your Poblanos to be more on the mild side, a nice trick is to soak them in warm water with a tablespoon of brown sugar for ten to thirty minutes before draining.
Now for the most important player of the taco: the steak. Carne asada is thinly sliced, grilled beef, traditionally marinated for hours and served with rice and beans on the side. While typically any cut of beef can be butterflied into thin sheets, I am using skirt steak for this recipe to capture that deep, rich flavor I love in authentic Mexican food. Flank steak would be a close second if you are unable to find skirt steak in your local market.
As easy as that, my skirt steak asada tacos will have you dreaming of Mexico all summer long. Once you get used to this kind of purity, you’ll have a hard time dealing with what usually passes for a taco.