Carne Asada on Tortilla + Grilled Asparagus
Why we love it:
- 1 pound Skirt Steak (or pre-sliced “fajita” strips)
- 2 Tablespoons Canola Oil (divided)
- 1 Tablespoon Ground Cumin
- 1 Tablespoon Chili Powder
- 1 teaspoon Dried Oregano
- 3 teaspoons Kosher Salt. (divided)
- 1⁄2 Red Onion (thinly sliced in half rings)
- 1⁄2 cup White Vinegar
- 1 teaspoon White Sugar
- 1⁄2 cup Water
- 1 bunch Asparagus (bottom trimmed 1 inch)
- 1 teaspoon Unsalted Butter
- 8 Corn Tortillas (size is your preference)
- 2 Avocados (ripe)
- 1⁄4 bunch Cilantro (chopped)
- 1⁄2 cup Monterey Jack Cheese (shredded -optional for serving, or queso fresco or sour cream)
1. CUT STEAK
If you have a whole steak - make sure its very cold from the fridge and lay it on a cutting surface. Use a very sharp thin knife and cut into ¼” thick strips across the grain. This is very important - see which way the grain is running, and cut perpendicular to that creating short strings of meat. This makes it tastes tender and not chewy. If different pieces run in different directions, separate those pieces first and cut across the grain accordingly.
2. SPICE RUB
Place the steak in a small bowl or dish. Stir together the oil and spices: 1 Tablespoon of the canola oil, 1 Tablespoon cumin, 1 Tablespoon chili powder, 1 teaspoon dried oregano, and just 1 teaspoon of the salt. Pour the wet spice blend over the meat and gently massage it to coat well.
In a small pot, bring the vinegar, water, sugar, and 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt to a boil. When the salt and sugar has dissolved, turn off the heat. Meanwhile, peel the half onion and slice it as thinly as possible. If you have a mandoline, this is the perfect use for it, otherwise just use a sharp knife and try to be consistent.
Place the onions in a jar or container small enough that they mostly fill it up (a pint/jelly size ball jar is perfect.) Carefully pour the hot vinegar mixture over top. Place uncovered in the fridge to cool.
Trim just the very end of the asparagus. Most recipes tell you to trim off a few inches, but check the quality of what you have. Fresh, tender asparagus really only needs about 1” trimmed, if you can stick your fingernail easily into the lower stalk and it feels watery to the touch, it will taste good.
Use a large grill pan or skillet to heat 1 teaspoon of butter over high heat. Add the asparagus spears and let them cook without moving to pick up a nice browning on one side. Sprinkle the remaining ½ teaspoon of salt over top. After 2-3 minutes, use tongs to roll them over slightly and cook another side. Cook 2 more minutes and roll once more. They’ll be done after the 3rd side and about 6-8 total minutes. If they’re very thin or very thick, adjust accordingly. Simply bite one to see if you like how its cooked. Remove from heat and set aside.
Heat a large skillet over high heat. Add 1 Tablespoon oil and when it’s hot and shimmery, add the steak in one even layer, trying to separate the pieces as you lay it down. Once they hit, don’t move them. Cook for 4 minutes or until you can tell a crust has formed and the meat will release from the pan without pulling. You can gently test 1 corner before flipping.
Flip and cook another side. Cook for 2-3 minutes, then feel free to shake up the pan and give it all a final 2-3 minutes until all of the steak is juicy and cooked through. Remove from heat and place in a bowl. Top with the juice of 1 lime.
Warm the tortillas over an open gas burner until they’re hot and a little charred in places. Or microwave them for about 15 seconds.
Slice the avocado, chop the cilantro. Plate tortillas, steak, avocado, pickled onions, and asparagus out for assembling tacos to taste!
Any leftover pickles can be covered and stored for a month in the fridge.