Carne Asada Street Tacos

Beyond buttery, this steak literally melts in your mouth. The quick marinade is a mind-blowing, action-packed medley of cilantro, garlic, jalapeno, orange, and lime. Flavors that dance on your tongue along with the perfectly charred steak. And wait until you see how easy this is. 

So what's "carne asada"? Quite literally, it's a Latin American dish that translates to "flesh/meat/beef" that's "roasted/broiled/grilled". The classic dish consists of beef (usually skirt or flank steak) that's grilled until charred on the outside and pink on the inside. It's that charred crust that makes carne asada so awesome. 

About the steak: As mentioned above, carne asada is typically made with skirt or flank steak, but you can really use any cut of beef if you butterfly it into thinner steaks first (cut horizontally to get steaks that are about 1/2-inch thick). The goal is a thin steak that chars quickly and can be sliced into very thin slices. If you're using flank steak, it should be cooked rare and then thinly sliced across the grain to make it easier to chew. Skirt steak has more marbling (fat), so it’s inherently more tender. I think it's more flavorful too. Skirt steak can also be cooked past rare (all the way to well done) and stay tender. 

About the marinade: If you use a food processor (or blender), the mixture comes together in a flash. And thanks to cilantro, garlic, orange, lime, and vinegar, the flavors are bright and vibrant; and the sugar perfectly balances the acidity of the citrus/vinegar. The sugar also helps caramelize the steak. It's one of my favorite marinades on earth. 

Carne Asada Street Tacos

1 cup packed fresh cilantro leaves (add some stems too - they add great flavor)
2 cloves garlic, chopped (about 2 teaspoons)
1 jalapeño chile pepper, seeded and chopped
1/4 cup orange juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice, plus lime wedges for serving if desired
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon granulated sugar or honey
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 pound skirt or flank steak
Cooking spray
12-16 street taco-size tortillas (flour or corn)
Street taco filling suggestions: 
Sautéed bell peppers
Chopped tomatoes
Lime wedges
Sour cream
Shredded cheese
Shredded lettuce
Green onions

In a blender or food processor, combine the cilantro, garlic, jalapeno, orange juice, olive oil, lime juice, vinegar, sugar, salt, and black pepper and process until blended.
Place the steak in a large shallow dish or plastic bag and add the marinade. Turn to coat the steak completely. Cover with plastic wrap or seal the bag and refrigerate for 1 to 8 hours (don't marinate longer than 8 hours or the fibers in the steak will break down and the meat will get mushy).
Coat a stovetop grill pan or outdoor grill with cooking spray and preheat to medium-high.
Remove the steak from the marinade and transfer to the hot grill.
Sear for 3 to 5 minutes per side (charred on the outside but still pink on the inside, especially with flank steak). If you want to use a meat thermometer: Pull the meat off the grill at 115-120°F for rare, 125°F for medium rare and 140°F for medium. Note that the meat will continue to cook after you remove it from the heat - and will likely rise another 5 degrees.
Remove the steak from the heat, transfer it to a cutting board and tent with foil for 5 to 10 minutes.
Using a sharp, long-bladed knife, slice the steak across the grain into long, thin slices.
Serve with desired fillings (suggestions above).
Serves 4