Inauthentic carne asada

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Submitted by ThreeHams

It's a little bit walumachoncha with photos, a little bit Good Eats, and tastes so good you'll never want to make the old ground-beef-and-taco-mix-packet thing again. Thanks to my roommate for taking the pictures. If you want something closer to authentic Mexican and don't have an archives account, replace the soy sauce and lime juice with salt and orange juice. I just prefer a lime-based recipe, and soy sauce adds a little something I like.

It's a pretty basic recipe, and I included some things that aren't necessarily common knowledge, like cracking the oven door open a notch while broiling.


  • 3lbs+ top round roast (any quality, Mexican cows aren't known for any marbling)
  • 1/2 white onion
  • Salsa - I love Safeway chipotle salsa for some reason, it's pretty much the only thing they do right
  • Corn tortillas, flour tortillas are Satan


  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce
  • 2 large cloves garlic, more if you want
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar

Th ca 01 ingredients.jpg

First, chill the meat in the freezer for about two hours. You want it to be partially frozen so it's easier to cut into thin strips, but not to the point where it's a block of ice.

Take it out of the freezer. Now, you need to cut the meat into very thin strips. We're talking 1/8" at most. Not a problem!

Th ca 02 withgrain.jpg

Wait, no, that's with the grain. You'll end up a bunch of chewy fibers that'll get stuck in your teeth. Let's try this again. Look at the grain of the meat, and cut across it instead of with it. You want this to fall apart on its own.

Th ca 03 acrossgrain.jpg

That's pretty good, but with a small top round chunk like this, you can do better. The shortest muscle fibers will be from cutting it into lateral sheets.

So, start by cutting the whole piece in half.

Th ca 04 cutinhalf.jpg

Now, cut sheets from the top down. Added bonus: they'll be nice and big, which is less work while cooking.

Th ca 05 crossgrainsheets.jpg

Vital step: Get impatient and cut yourself during the last couple pieces. Find where you put the bandages.

Th ca 06 cutyourself.jpg

Congratulations! You have a big goddamn pile of meat. It's top round, so it's insanely lean. Yes, this actually qualifies as healthy eating.

Th ca 07 pileofmeat.jpg

Start the marinade. Measure the soy sauce and milk into a container. We're at about half authenticity here.

Th ca 08 soysauce.jpg

Squeeze the limes into the mix.

Th ca 09 limesqueeze.jpg

Crush and mince the garlic.

Th ca 10 crushandmincegarlic.jpg

Three tablespoons of brown sugar, which makes just about any brine or marinade better.

Th ca 11 brownsugar.jpg

Finally, add the cumin and cayenne pepper. Leave the real heat for the salsa if you want it, but this recipe shouldn't want or need anything too spicy.

Th ca 12 cayenne.jpg

Doesn't that look good? Yeeeeeeeah. Yum.

Th ca 13 whisk.jpg

Whisk it all together.

Th ca 14 marinadeyum.jpg

Add the meat, cover with the marinade...

Th ca 15 pourmarinade.jpg

...and chill for at least 1 hour. 2 hours will taste better, though.

Th ca 16 chillfor2hours.jpg

Done? Take the meat out and lay it out onto a couple of sheets. These are aluminum half-sheet pans from a restaurant supply store, and cost about $5 each. Can't beat that.

Th ca 17 twosheets.jpg

Okay, now we need a charcoal grill to... oh wait, I'm in the middle of Los Angeles and have no balcony. Guess I'm screwed, huh.

Cast iron griddle? I've got one that works on the stove, but damn is that a pain. Plus, my shitass electric stove can just manage to boil a pot of water.

Oh wait, what's this?

Th ca 18 broiler.jpg

Oh look, it's the broiler, the least-used appliance in the world.

Switch on the broiler, leave the oven door open a notch (it'll shut off automatically if you don't) and broil for about two minutes per side. If you have a large broiler rack (I don't) this is the time to use it, since it'll keep the meat from boiling in its own juices. Note that every broiler is different - top round is extremely lean, so you want some red or pink in the center of the meat. Overcooking isn't a disaster like it is with steak, but it won't taste as good, so use trial-and-error for the second batch.

Th ca 19 broil.jpg

Flip the meat after the first couple minutes. If you use a rack, it'll probably all look like that big red piece. Don't worry about it - you sliced it really thin, right?

Th ca 20 firstside.jpg

Finish both batches in the same way.

Lay the meat on a cutting board and go fuckin' apeshit on it with a knife. If you have a pair of cleavers, THIS is the prime time to use them.

Th ca 21 fuckinapeshit.jpg

Dice one white onion. Thou shalt not use yellow or sweet; it is an abomination.

Th ca 22 choppedonion.jpg

Warm the tortillas in the microwave for about a minute. Use one or two per taco - I like one, but they tend to fall apart. Top with some white onions and salsa.


Th ca 23 success.jpg

This stuff will last about a week for two people, maybe more, and it's insanely cheap - round roast goes for about $1.50-$2.00/lb even in LA, and it's some of the leanest meat available.

Carne asada also makes grill fodder extraordinaire. Use a larger roast so you get nice, big pieces. Marinade it the same way, cut it into rounds (not perfectly cross-grain but easier to grill - it'll be fine), and sear it over high grill heat just like you would a broiler. Charcoal is best as always. Enjoy!