Carne asada is the thinly sliced, grilled beef served so often in tacos and burritos. It is also commonly served as is, with rice and beans on the side. Although almost any cut of beef can be butterflied into thin sheets for the carne asada, typically it is made from flank steak or skirt steak. It can be grilled just with salt and pepper for flavorings, or it can be marinated. This tasty dish is commonly prepared in the northern and western parts of Mexico (in the states of Sonora, Baja California, Baja California Sur, Coahuila, Sinaloa, Chihuahua, Nuevo León, Durango, Tamaulipas, Nayarit, Zacatecas, Colima, Michoacán, Aguascalientes, Guanajuato, San Luis Potosí and Jalisco) as well as in the American Southwest (especially Southern California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas). The following is the recipe for marinated carne asada.
INGREDIENTS FOR THE MARINADE
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 jalapeño chile pepper, seeded and minced
1 teaspoon freshly ground cumin seed
1 large handful fresh cilantro, leaves and stems, finely chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 limes, juiced
2 tablespoons white vinegar
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 cup olive oil
Lay the flank steak in a large non-reactive bowl or baking dish. Combine marinade ingredients and pour the marinade over the steak. Make sure each piece is well coated. Cover in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1-4 hours. Preheat your grill over medium-high flame (you can also use a cast iron grill pan on high heat for stove-top cooking). Brush the grates with a little oil to prevent the meat from sticking. Remove the steak from the marinade.
If you are cooking indoors, you may want to brush off excess marinade as the bits may burn and smoke on the hot pan. Season both sides of the steak pieces with salt and pepper. Grill the pieces for a few minutes only, on each side, depending on how thin they are, until medium rare to well done, to your preference. You may need to work in batches. Remove the steak pieces to a cutting board and let rest for 5 minutes. Thinly slice the steak across the grain on a diagonal. Serve carne asada with warm tortillas or pico de gallo and chopped avocados.