Carne asada is a popular dish that appears everywhere in Mexican-style cuisine-as a main dish, side dish, or ingredient in other meals. This sliced, grilled beef is packed with flavour that you won’t be able to get enough of.
The love child of Mexico and California
No one is exactly sure when carne asada came to be, but its origin stories have their roots in both Mexico and California. While grilled meat has always been a cornerstone of Mexican food, the dish we know in Singapore today was made popular in the rancho days of Southern California. A staple food in the American southwest and northern Mexico, carne asada is now making its way to our country as Mexican cuisine booms.
Surprisingly, this dish is actually known by a different name in Mexico-‘bisteck’. What’s interesting is that there, the term ‘carne asada’ refers to something different; a social barbecue between friends and relatives. At these gatherings, grilled beef is the most popular dish, but the true highlight is how the attendees prepare their fire and enact the grilling process.
The key is in the cooking
The simplicity of this dish’s literal translation-‘grilled meat’-shows what’s really important; the beef itself. Great carne asada starts with the right cut of beef-commonly skirt steak, used for its intense beefy flavour, or other cuts like sirloin and tenderloin. Once a chef has the right piece of beef, it’s time to prepare and cook it. Carne asada is usually basted in a mixture of olive oil, garlic, citrus juice, japanenos and herbs for several hours ahead of time. Once the meat is marinated, it’s traditionally cooked on an outdoor grill at a very high heat. However, nowadays, most restaurants use indoor grills for ease and food hygiene purposes.
Since the core appeal of carne asada is the way it’s cooked, you’re free to enjoy this dish prepared in a multitude of ways depending on what suits your tastes. For a hearty dish that makes the meat the only focus, eat it the Mexican country way; plated up with rice or tortilla, beans, and salsa on the side. If you’d rather combine it in a way that brings out the deeper flavours in the beef, you can eat it seasoned in a burrito or taco.
Enjoy it your way
The great thing about carne asada’s variety of preparations is that you can enjoy a different variation every time you dine.