Carne asada beef tacos

Adam Liaw
The taste of authenticity: Real beef tacos.
The taste of authenticity: Real beef tacos. Photo: William Meppem

What we've done to Mexican food in Australia is almost a crime; hard-shelled tacos stuffed with mince, salsa, sour cream, lettuce, tomatoes, processed cheese ... But walk the streets of Mexico and you'll see economical food cooked and served with a minimum of fuss. Keep it simple and you won't go wrong: marinated meat, an onion relish and a tomato salsa. Put it all together and your authentic taco is done.


800g flank steak

1 tsp vegetable oil

10 small soft corn tortillas (check gluten-free if required)

For carne asada marinade

1 medium brown onion, roughly chopped

4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped

3 pickled jalapeo chillies, roughly chopped

juice of one orange

juice of one 1 lemon

1/4 cup soy sauce*

1 tsp ground cumin

1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

* Soy sauce may seem out of place in a Mexican recipe but it's a great substitute for the umami-rich Maggi seasoning commonly used in Mexican home cooking. Check the soy sauce is gluten-free is required.

2 roma tomatoes, quartered, stalks removed

3  garlic cloves, peeled

1 small brown onion, peeled and cut into eights

3 pickled jalapeno chillies

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 tsp castor sugar

Onion relish

1 small brown onion, finely chopped

1/2 cup coriander, roughly chopped

juice of 1 lime

pinch of salt


1. Combine the flank steak and all the ingredients for the marinade in a large press-seal bag or non-reactive bowl. Marinate overnight.

2. For the roasted salsa, preheat your oven to 200°C. Place the tomatoes, garlic, onion and jalapeños on a lined baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes. Combine in a food processor with the salt and caster sugar and purée until smooth. Set aside for at least 15 minutes to allow the flavours to develop.

3. For the onion relish, combine the ingredients in a non-reactive bowl and set aside for at least 10 minutes.

4. Heat a heavy frying pan over high heat and add the oil. Remove the meat from the marinade and fry for about 3 minutes on each side until well browned. Rest for 5 minutes. While the meat is resting, warm the tortillas directly on the grill until they are lightly toasted and pliable. Thinly slice the meat and serve with the tortillas, salsa and onion relish.