A Mexican family feast
Thesmokysmellofflameslicking carne asada and the al pastor spit loaded with thinly sliced pork shoulder on the streets of our adopted neighbourhood of Eagle Rock in Los Angeles are almost a dream now.
A couple of months back in Ireland, I’m grateful for home comforts like truly fresh seafood, local cheese and the many things we’ve missed in the five years away from home. Although our move is still fresh in our minds, there are days I don’t think about our life in California.
Sure, we miss the weather, the endless days of sunshine, and our close friends, but what I miss the most is the tacos. Oh, the tacos — I could write love letters to the ladies who pressed masa in wooden presses and toasted them on the giant iron coma, particularly the kind lady who used to make one filled with queso to keep Noah occupied while we waited in line to put in our order.
My favourite taco spot was Angel’s Tijuana-style tacos that popped up outside the local Target on Friday nights. Instantly recognisable from it’s neongreen splodge of super smooth guacamole and charred meat, it’s probably one of the most popular taco styles in the city, with bricks and mortar joints like Taco’s 1986 making their mark.
In an effort to recreate a little taco joy here in Ireland, here is my attempt at the carne asada taco with all the trimmings.
To try these I only ask three things: first, remove all thoughts of supermarket taco kits; second, track down good corn tortillas (I get mine from Picado, which you can order online or pick up in their Dublin store); lastly, cook the meat over hot coals. The flavour is incomparable to anything you will pan fry and worth giving a go next time the BBQ is out.
1. In a dish, mix the garlic, oil, half the lime, spices and sugar. Finely chop half the coriander and stir into the dish then season well. Add the steaks to the marinade and sit while you make the guac and salsa, turning occasionally.
2. In a small bowl, mix the red onion with the tomatoes, rest of the lime, coriander leaves and some sea salt and set aside. 3. Heat a griddle pan over a high heat until smoking. Remove the steaks from the marinade, pat dry and drizzle with oil. Sear for 1-2 minutes each side until charred but still rare inside. Set aside to rest for 5 minutes.
4. Slice the steak and serve in the warm tortillas with the tomato and red onion salsa, the taco shop guacamole and the pineapple salsa.