BEST TORTILLAS FOR STREET TACOS
I love La Tortilla Factory Corn Tortillas – not an affiliate, just affection. They are thicker, homemade tortillas that never break or tear even when charred and piled with toppings. I find mine at Sprouts. They come in 8 per package which means you will need 2 packages for this carne asada taco recipe. They are definitely more expensive BUT less than dining out! Note that this brand of corn tortillas is NOT gluten free as it does contain corn AND wheat.
HOW TO COOK CARNE ASADA TACOS WITHOUT A GRILL:
- OVEN ROASTED: You may also broil your carne asada which mimics the high directional heat of the grill. Place carne asada on a baking sheet. Broil 8 inches away from the broiler for 7-10 minutes on each side or until it reaches desired temperature.
- STOVE TOP: You may use the stove, but unless you have a large grill pan, your carne asada might not fit in your skillet and you may need to cut your steak in half and work in batches. Heat one tablespoon olive oil in a large cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Cook for 6-8 minutes per side or until it reaches desired temperature.
TIPS FOR CARNE ASADA STREET TACOS:
- Quality tortillas. try and use QUALITY corn tortillas – you can taste the difference!
- Pound the steak to an even, thin thickness. Even if your steak looks even already, you’ll still want to give it a good pounding to tenderize it (works wonders!). Place steak in between two pieces of plastic wrap or I just place it in a freezer size plastic bag. Pound it evenly with a meat mallet or side of a can.
- Don’t over-marinate. The carne asada taco marinade is highly acidic which means you don’t want to marinate the steak as long as you would in a marinade without as much citrus. Don’t marinate much longer than 12 hours or the muscle fibers can break down and become mushy.
- Marinate long enough. I recommend marinating the carne asada for the maximum 12 hours. This will infuse the steak with TONS of flavor and optimal juiciness.
- Bring carne asada to room temperature before cooking. You always want to let any protein sit at room temperature before cooking in order for it to cook evenly so you aren’t left with an overcooked exterior and cold interior. This also relaxes the cold fibers for juicier results.
- Use a high smoking point oil. For the grill, generously grease the CLEAN grill with a high smoking oil such as vegetable oil, canola oil or peanut oil. I just use a wad of paper towels to grease the grill. NEVER use spray oils once the grill is on.
- Use a hot grill. Heat up the grill with the lid closed cranked to the maximum temperature so it can achieve temperature more quickly; plan on 10-15 minutes. Once the grill is hot, you can adjust the temperature. Don’t add the steak until the grill reaches temperature or it won’t sear as nicely.
- Don’t overcook. For the juiciest street tacos, don’t cook carne asada above medium.
- When to use high heat. If you like rare or medium-rare steak, then grill steak on high heat so it’s hot enough to get some color on the outside in a short amount of time.
- Let carne asada rest. After the carne asada is grilled, it is important to let it rest for 10 minutes before chopping. While the steak cooks, the juices are forced away from the heat to the middle of the meat. The resting time allows for the redistribution and reabsorption of the juices throughout the whole steak.
- Let pico de gallo rest. After you combine the Pico de Gallo ingredients in a bowl, let them sit at room temperate in order for the flavors to meld together. If you taste it right away, I guarantee you will be disappointed. The salt draws out the flavor from the tomatoes, which we desperately want in this recipe. Sitting also tones down the raw onion as it mingles with the lime. Give your Pico de Gallo at least 30 minutes for the magic to happen.
- Add something creamy. In addition to pico de gallo, you will want to add something creamy to these carne asada street tacos to marry all of the textures together. I love both sour cream and guacamole or you can use sour cream with chopped avocados or my beloved avocado crema.
- Hot sauce to taste. The carne asada tacos aren’t spicy but plenty flavorful. If you are your guests like a kick, make sure to serve the street tacos hot sauce on the side.
- Shortcut street tacos. This street taco recipe is very simple to make but the toppings can take a minute to prep – especially chopping the pico de gallo ingredients – but you don’t want to skip the pico de gallo. To cut down on topping prep, you can purchase store bought pico de gallo (usually at the deli counter) as well as store bought guacamole. Now, all you have to do is load up your street tacos!
How to Warm Tortillas for Street Tacos
- Open Flame (gas stove or grill): this method is how I achieve the smoky char you see on the tortillas and is best with FRESH/homemade tortillas as previously discussed. I simply add the tortillas directly to the burner of my gas stove then flip with tongs once they are charred on one side. You can also accomplish this on the grill as well. If you are using lower quality tortillas, you will want to take special care not to over-char or they will become brittle and break. You still want the tortillas soft and pliable.
- Skillet: heat a skillet (or griddle if you have one) to medium high heat (do not grease). Working with one tortilla at a time (more for a griddle), heat each side of the tortilla for approximately 20-30 seconds until warm and soft. You are not looking for char marks with this method.
- Microwave: working with about 5 tortillas at a time, stack tortillas on a microwave safe plate and cover with a damp paper towel. Microwave for 20 seconds on high, then repeat at 10 second intervals if needed until warmed through.
- Oven: create separate stacks of about 5 tortillas each, then wrap each stack in foil. Bake at 350 degrees F for 15-20 minutes or until heated through (you can bake all stacks at once).
Keep tortillas warm: Once your tortillas are warmed (with any method), keep them warm and pliable by stacking on a plate and covering with a slightly dampened, paper towel or clean towel.
WHAT CAN I MAKE AHEAD?
While the carne asada is marinating, you can prep the pico de gallo and the guacamole – then all that’s left to do is grill the steak and warm the tortillas.
I don’t recommend prepping the guacamole more than 6 hours ahead of time for the best results. To store guacamole, store in an airtight container with a piece of plastic wrap pressed directly onto the surface of the guacamole. This will help decrease the speed at which the avocados brown due to oxidation.
- steak: store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
- pico de gallo: is best consumed the same day it is made as the tomatoes will continue to release juices BUT it can be stored for up to three days.
- guacamole: is best consumed the same day it is made as the top layer will begin to oxidize and turn brown. This doesn’t mean the guacamole has gone bad, but it can be unappetizing.
HOW TO FREEZE CARNE ASADA
You can freeze the carne asada meat cooked or uncooked:
- Uncooked carne asada: add marinade and steak to a freezer bag per recipe instructions. Squeeze out excess air, seal and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator before cooking. It will marinate as it thaws. You will still want to use the spice rub on the steak before cooking.
- Cooked carne asada: transfer chopped carne asada to an airtight container or plastic freezer bag and squeeze out any excess air. Freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator before reheating. You can also defrost in the microwave but take care to defrost slowly so your steak doesn’t overcook or get rubbery.
HOW TO REHEAT CARNE ASADA TACOS
- Cover the chopped carne asada with a damp paper towel to keep it from drying out.
- Microwave at 30 second intervals until warmed through.
- Heat one tablespoon oil or butter in a nonstick skillet over medium high heat. The fat will help the carne asada stay tender; you may substitute with water.
- Once hot, add steak and cook undisturbed for a couple minutes, then begin to cook and stir until warmed through.
- Take care not to overcook or it can become dry.