Steak, lime, garlic, yum
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
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
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.