‘Arriba, Arriba’ in Spanish is sometimes used to say “come on, let’s go!”
Now that summer is well on the way there’s no more waiting to fire up the barbecue. There are plenty of old favourites and new recipes to try, and lots of outdoor time to enjoy.
Growing up in Tucson, Arizona right near the border of Mexico, meant there was plenty of spicy, yummy, Sonoran fare to be had. All year round there were fiestas to go to and holiday traditions with speciality Mexican dishes eaten on certain occasions.
But my favourite time is summertime when you can make carne asada tacos and street corn. Add beans, rice and guacamole and you have the perfect makings to invite your friends for a Mexican barbecue. Oh, and don’t forget to get the party started with some tangy margaritas or Sangria!
The Secret to Making the Best Carne Asada Tacos
In Mexico, if you’re strolling around you will find many street vendors that make their living selling traditional tacos.
Carne Asada – which means grilled meat in Spanish – is by far the most popular and for a good reason. The meat is placed along with the toppings on a tortilla that is folded so you can pick it up and eat it with your hands.
The secret to great carne asada is in the marinade and the high heat of the grill. By using citrus in the marinade and searing the meat, the flavour is delicious, and the steak is moist and tender. Lemons and limes, sour cream, avocado slices, cheese and pico de gallo (tomato salsa, see recipe below) are served to top them off, making the tacos a smorgasbord of taste with each bite.
- 2 pounds flank or skirt steak
- 5 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 lime, juiced
- 1 orange, juiced
- 1/2 cup chopped white onion
- 1 jalapeño, cored and finely minced (optional)
- 1/2 cup finely chopped fresh coriander
- 1/4 cup regular olive oil
- 1 teaspoon chilli powder
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin powder
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 dozen taco-size corn or flour tortillas
First, you may want to cut your steak in half if it is quite long. Next, mix all the marinade ingredients together and put them in a mixing bowl or a Ziploc bag. Place the steak in the marinade and refrigerate for 2-4 hours. When the marinating is done, take it out and let it sit for 30 minutes to an hour until it comes to room temperature. Start up your grill so it will be nice and hot when it’s time to cook the steak.
Place the steak on the grill at high heat. Cook for 4-5 minutes on each side, making sure not to move the meat so it sears well. Take it off the grill and let it rest for 10 minutes while you warm up the tortillas. Cut the steak against the grain into strips or dice it into bite-size pieces.
Fill each tortilla with carne asada and top with cheese, sour cream, pico de gallo (tomato salsa, see recipe below), avocado slices and serve with lime wedges.
Pico de Gallo (Also Known as Fresh Sauce) Makes Everything Taste Better
Easy to make, pico de gallo (tomato salsa) is a staple in Mexican cuisine. Red ripe tomatoes, onion, coriander, garlic, jalapeno, and lime juice come together to make a fresh and tasty topping that enhances the flavour of tacos, burritos, enchiladas, or even scrambled eggs. I use it quite a lot and love the way you can turn the heat up or down depending on what kind of peppers I use and how many. In this recipe, we are using jalapeno, but you can opt for serrano, habanero, or no peppers at all depending on how spicy you like your food.
- 2 cups fresh diced tomato, 3 to 4 small tomatoes
- 1/2 cup diced white onion
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
- 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 jalapeño pepper, stemmed, seeded, and diced
- 1/2 teaspoon salt, more to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper
Pico de gallo is best if you remove the pulp and seeds from the tomatoes. Dice the tomatoes, onion, and coriander into small pieces. Mix all the ingredients together and serve on the side.
Elotes Mexicana (Grilled Mexican Street Corn)
Once you try Elotes, you’ll get cravings for it and want to make it again. The slight charring brings out the sweetness in the corn and the sauce puts it over the top. A popular offering of street vendors, this grilled side dish is a favourite with its creamy, crunchy, spicy mixture of taste and texture. Every time I make this, guests ask me for the recipe.
- 1/2 cup finely crumbled Cotija cheese (feta or parmesan can be used instead)
- 1/4 cup mayonnaise
- 1/4 cup sour cream or Mexican crema
- 1/2 teaspoon ancho or chilli powder
- 1 medium clove garlic, finely minced (about 1 teaspoon)
- 4 ears shucked corn
- 1 lime, cut into wedges
Create a medium heat on your barbecue. As your grill is warming up, husk your corn, leaving the stalk on to use as a handle. Or you can cut the stalk off and insert wooden skewers in the corn after it has grilled. Mix all sauce ingredients except lime wedges and cheese and set aside.
Once your grill is heated, place the corn on and cook for about 4 minutes on each side, rotating to ensure the corn is slightly charred on all sides. Some people prefer the corn to be more charred so if you like it that way, leave it on longer. Remove the corn and brush the sauce mixture over the entire cob. Sprinkle cheese over the corn and squeeze lime on for a finishing touch.
Summer is the Best Time for a Mexican Fiesta (Festival or Celebration)
And with these recipes, you can’t go wrong. Put on some Mexican dance music, mix up some margaritas and invite some friends to join you. Carne Asada Tacos and Street Corn will have your friends and family coming back for more so be sure to make enough!
Let us know in the comments below if you tried these recipes and how you liked them, we love to hear from you.