Carne Asada, which means “roasted meat”, is a popular Mexican dish that is made with beef steak. The thin steaks are usually marinated with spice rubs such as Worcestershire sauce, lime and garlic salt or lemon juice and pepper combinations. Olive oil mixed with salt is another popular marinade used for the steaks, before they are grilled or roasted. This meat dish is usually served with tortillas or tacos and is more popular in the northern Mexican regions such as Baja California, Chihuahua, Sonora, Nuevo Leon, Tamaulipas and Durango. However, a slightly different variation is popular in the central-southern regions of Mexico. Tacos, Carne Asada and Taqueria Style Tacos are a couple of popular Carne Asada recipe variations.
Carne Asada is considered as a barbecued meat equivalent in Mexico and southwest regions of America. Traditionally, the meat is either marinated with various spices and marinades and cooked or cooked directly without being marinated. Skirt steak is the tender section of the animal that has been used for this dish traditionally; however, flank steak or trimmed brisket steaks can also be used.
Nowadays, the meat is sold in various Mexican stores across Mexico and south-central America. It is sold as is or in the marinated form, which are known as “no-preparado and “preparado”, respectively.
Ingredients Used and Method of Preparation
Various seasonings are used for flavoring Carne Asada, which is made with the tender skirt steak. Other key ingredients that go into making this dish are tortillas, tequila, lime and lemon juice, orange juice, crushed garlic, chopped onion, guacamole, Tabasco sauce, salsa, salt and black pepper.
All ingredients, except tortillas, salsa and guacamole, are mixed in a bowl and the meat is marinated with this mixture. The marinated steaks are refrigerated for many hours; before they are grilled (ensuring the meat is rubbed with the marinade during the grilling process). Once the meat is done, it is sliced into thin pieces and served with salsa and guacamole, wrapped in tortillas.
Traditionally, Carne Asada is cooked over an open charcoal fire. Generally, the steaks are well done. However, due to cultural differences and personal preferences, the meat is cooked medium or rare.
Carne Asada is generally accompanied by other popular Mexican dishes such as quesadillas, rolled in burritos, tacos or piruetas. Grilled onions, guacamole, frijoles churros, black beans and salsa are other dishes served with this roasted meat dish.
It is also shredded and served in salads or with cooked rice.
Variations of Carne Asada Recipe
The popular Carne Asada has a few variations depending on the region it originates and the ingredients used. Detailed here are a couple of popular variations of this dish –
- Quick and Easy Carne Asada – This variation is ideal for large gatherings as it uses fewer ingredients and is quicker to make. It is made with boneless chuck steaks that are marinated in a marinade made of beer, garlic powder, lime juice, green onions, salt and pepper. After about an hour, the marinated onions are taken out and coated with a mixture of garlic powder and cooking oil. These onions are grilled along with the marinated steaks, till they are done to the required tenderness. When done, the dish is served with a beverage of choice.
- Tacos Carne Asada – Skirt steaks are marinated with mojo and when done they are seasoned with salt and pepper and grilled on a preheated grill. The grilled steaks are cooled and served with tacos along with cheese, white onion and lettuce and a little Pico de Gallo salsa.
- Taqueria Style Tacos – Carne Asada – This variation is made with flank steaks. The steaks are marinated in a mixture of soy sauce, vinegar, lime juice, garlic and olive oil, seasoned with salt, white pepper, black pepper, chili powder, garlic powder, cumin, oregano and paprika. Salsa is made by pureeing roasted tomatoes, onions, jalapenos, garlic and soaked chili pods that have been toasted and it is seasoned with salt and pepper. The marinated meat is cut into small chunks and cooked after sautéing in a little oil. The meat is cooked till the liquid evaporates completely. It is served with warmed tortillas along with onion relish (made by combining onions, lime juice and cilantro) and salsa.
Health and Nutrition Facts
Serving size – 1 serving (85 g)
Approximate Values per serving (Calories - 160 cal, Fat – 8 g, Carbohydrates – 2 g, Protein – 17 g, Saturated fat – 3.5 g, Cholesterol – 50 mg, Sodium – 890 mg, Sugars – 1 g)
Carne Asada is - i) High in saturated Fat, and ii) High in sodium.
Is Carne Asada Healthy to Eat?
1. It is healthy to eat and the beef is a good source of lean protein.
2. Tortilla provides carbohydrates which give energy to body but it should not be fried if it is to be kept healthy.
3. Vegetables provide the important vitamins.
4. It is good unless it is loaded with more of cheese and cream.
Who Should Avoid Carne Asada?
People belonging to categories listed below should avoid the carne asada:
i. Fatty and obese people – as it is high in saturated fats
ii. Diabetic people – as it is high in fats and contains cholesterol
iii.Weight watchers – as it is high in saturated fats
iv.People suffering from hypertension – as it is high in sodium
v. People with sedentary life style
Carne Asada literally translates to “social barbecue” and is served at most social gatherings across Mexico and Southwest America.