Steak, lime, garlic, yum

Leah Eskin
Chicago Tribune (TNS)

Mexico struck me mute. Not just the vivid colors, vivid smiles and vivid flavors. It was also ignorance. I spoke no Spanish. Over five weeks — back in the single, summer, semi-employed days when weeks came easy — the clatter clumped into words and the words into rapport. I loved every

minute of Mexico.

In my rented room, I patted the bed: cama. I stripped down mango for supper: cena. Days, I charted verbs; nights, I studied ramble, guitar,

tequila. I was adept at present tense, the verb “to linger” and the vocabulary of street food.

At the taqueria, I watched the

masters lime-marinate carne and grill it asada. I studied — over and over — green onions charred brown. I took in smoky, sharp and sweet.

Over long and sunny, I learned climb and vista. Over late and starry, I learned confide and friend. I skipped the last class, the one where we practiced farewell.

Carne Asada Tacos

Prep: 20 minutes, plus time to marinate

Cook: 8 minutes

Makes: 4 servings

1/2 cup fresh lime juice

Canola or olive oil

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

Kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper

11/2 pounds skirt steak, trimmed of fat and silverskin

1 bunch fresh cilantro, leaves and tender stems chopped

1/2 cup finely chopped white onion

2 bunches green onions, trimmed to 5 inches

8 small soft corn tortillas

1 cup green tomatillo salsa

1 lime, quartered

Marinate: Combine lime juice,

1 tablespoon oil, garlic, 1 teaspoon salt and cayenne pepper in a shallow

baking pan (or zip-close plastic bag). Add the steak. Flip. Cover and chill,

2 to 24 hours.

Pat: Pull steak out of marinade. Pat dry. Sprinkle with a little salt. Let rest at room temperature, 30 minutes.

Toss: Heap cilantro and white

onion in a bowl. Sprinkle with a little salt. Toss.

Season: Rub green onions with

1 teaspoon oil and 1/2 teaspoon salt.

Grill: Grill steak over a medium-hot fire, about 4 minutes per side for medium. Slide onto a platter and

cover loosely with foil. Let rest

5-10 minutes.

Tattoo: Meanwhile, set green

onions on the grates crosswise. Grill, rolling occasionally, until tender and nicely tattooed, about 8 minutes. Grill tortillas until they show light marks, 1-2 minutes per side.

Slice: Slice steak along the grain into 3-inch wide sections, then across the grain into thin strips. Douse with any accumulated juices.

Build: For each taco, spread a grilled tortilla with a spoonful of

tomatillo salsa. Add a heap of steak, a scoop of the cilantro mix, a couple of green onions and a squeeze of lime.