Carne Asada

Carne Asada

Carne asada is the thinly sliced, grilled beef served so often in tacos and burritos.

It is also commonly served as is, with beans on the side.

Although almost any cut of beef can be butterflied into thin sheets for the carne asada, typically it is made from flank steak or skirt steak.

It can be grilled just with salt and pepper for flavorings, or it can be marinated.


The following is a recipe for marinated carne asada: 

Ingredients (serves 4-6):

  • 1Kg skirt or flank steak*
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the marinade:

  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 jalapeño Chile pepper, seeded and minced
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground cumin seed (best to lightly toast the seeds first, then grind them)
  • 1 large handful fresh cilantro(coriander), leaves and stems, finely chopped (great flavor in the stems)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 limes, juiced
  • 2 tablespoons white vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon sugar
  • ½ cup olive oil



  1. Lay the flank steak in a large non-reactive bowl or baking dish.
  2. Combine marinade ingredients and pour the marinade over the steak. Make sure each piece is well coated. Cover in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1-4 hours.
  3. Preheat your grill over medium-high flame (you can also use a cast iron grill pan on high heat for stove-top cooking).
  4. Brush the grates with a little oil to prevent the meat from sticking.
  5. Remove the steak from the marinade. If you are cooking indoors, you may want to brush off excess marinade as the bits may burn and smoke on the hot pan.
  6. Season both sides of the steak pieces with salt and pepper. Grill the pieces for a few minutes only, on each side, depending on how thin they are, until medium rare to well done, to your preference. You may need to work in batches.
  7. Remove the steak pieces to a cutting board and let rest for 5 minutes. Thinly slice the steak across the grain on a diagonal.


Skirt steak or flank steak: 

Skirt steak or flank steak is a cut from the forequarter. It is the long, flat strip from a cow’s diaphragm – hence the name skirt. In South Africa we know it as brisket and it is considered a more inferior cut. It consists of several layers of muscle lying in different directions and is tough. Deboned brisket is used for making a roll of beef – and the cut is often minced. Sliced and cubed, it is good for stews and braises. The meat contains plenty of connective tissue and if prepared correctly is extremely flavoursome. While regarded as a cheaper cut of beef here, in the US skirt or brisket is rated good enough as a roast and steak. Although it is always marinated for tenderness in the US, they consider the cut far more flavoursome than many of the more expensive cuts from the hindquarter.

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