My cilantro lime steak marinade adds a bright, fresh flavor to my Mexican skirt steak. Make this recipe for a tasty grilled Mexican meal!
Grilled steak is delicious any time of year, but especially in the summer. Because of the high acid content in limes, using a cilantro lime steak marinade results in a more tender bite.
Furthermore, the other ingredients provide a refreshing counterpoint to the natural flavor of the meat.
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WHAT IS SKIRT STEAK?
Skirt steak, like flank steak, is a lean cut of beef. Indeed, both cuts of meat are frequently used interchangeably.
Skirt steak, on the other hand, has more tough fibers. As a result, it’s best cooked at lower internal temperatures to keep the meat tender.
Use a marinade and cook quickly over high heat for the best flavor and texture.
WHAT IS CARNE ASADA?
Carne Asada is marinated steak (usually skirt or flank), grilled hot and fast to get a nice char, and sliced for tacos or burritos. It has its origins in Mexican cuisine.
Growing up in a Mexican-American household, we ate a lot of marinated steak at home and in restaurants, but I never associated the meal with any particular recipe. Just really good, full-flavored grilled meat that went well with tacos.
THE BEST CUT OF MEAT
Traditionally, flank steak, hanger steak, or skirt steak are used to make carne asada.
All are excellent choices because they absorb marinade well, cook quickly, and retain flavor. Technically, you aren’t limited to those cuts; you can use any of them.
We like those for the convenience, and in this case we’re using Snake River Farms Skirt Steak. (Flat Iron, Hanger, and Flank also work well.)
HOW TO COOK MEXICAN SKIRT STEAK
Making this dish is incredibly simple – simply marinate the steak before grilling it until done.
Serve with salad, rice, grilled vegetables, and other side dishes. Alternatively, use it to make tacos or fajitas.
INGREDIENT NOTES AND SUBSTITUTIONS
Please keep in mind that this is only a partial list of ingredients. See the recipe card at the bottom of this post for the complete ingredient list.
- Lime juice – I prefer Mexican limes, also known as Key limes, because they are juicer and have more acidity. Regular limes, on the other hand, will work just as well for the marinade.
- Pickled jalapeno – These are typically sold in jars and can be found alongside the olives in grocery stores. If these are unavailable, seed and slice a whole jalapeno pepper instead. Just make sure to use the same amount of pepper each time.
- Vegetable oil – You can use any neutral cooking oil, such as canola, avocado, or extra virgin olive oil, in place of this.
- Blend the marinade: In a food processor or high-speed blender, puree all of the marinade ingredients until smooth.
- Marinate the steak by placing it in a ziploc bag or shallow container and covering it with the marinade. Allow for 30 minutes at room temperature.
- Grill and serve: Remove the steak from the marinade and set aside. Cook to desired doneness on an oiled grill. Allow it to rest for a few minutes before slicing thinly across the grain. Enjoy with your favorite side dishes!
MARINADE FOR CARNE ASADA
Our skirt steak marinade will include acid, which will aid in tenderizing the meat. There are tenderizer shakes available, but I find that apple cider vinegar, wine, or Worcestershire sauce all work well.
Furthermore, the skirt absorbs the flavor quickly. You can marinate the meat for an hour and add flavor to it (but we like to aim for 2 hours for full flavor).
We then add some citrus (fresh orange and lime juice) as well as garlic and onion for flavor (and also additional acid).
You can also add a jalapeno to add some spice, but the heat will vary depending on the jalapeno. So, to ensure the amount of heat we want to present to our guests, we use red pepper flakes.
Use as little oil as possible (if at all). Too much oil detracts from the flavor and prevents the marinade from coming together.
A small amount of oil can aid in the emulsification or combination of the ingredients.
In a mixing bowl, combine all of the ingredients, stir, and then pour into a zip lock plastic baggie.
Remove as much air as possible before adding the pieces of meat. Refrigerate for up to two hours before using. Any longer and the flavor of the meat will be lost.
Remove the steak from the marinade after two hours and pat dry. Remove the marinade.
This is where the extra flavor kick comes in. After the dry rub has been soaking in the marinade, add it.
We’re keeping things simple by using our Beef Rub, which is made up of equal parts kosher salt, coarse black pepper, and granulated garlic.
You can also use your favorite rub; the key is to season the steak before grilling.
HOW TO SLICE STEAK AGAINST THE GRAIN
This is a critical step, especially for this type of meat. Cutting the meat against the grain shortens the length of the tough fibers, making it more tender and easier to chew.
Here’s how to tell what grain it is and what “against” means based on that:
- Look for parallel lines of muscle fiber running through the meat.
- Then, using a sharp knife, cut the meat along those lines. Cut at an angle for thin, wider slices.
- Keep any leftover steak in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
- Reheating – Microwave steak slices in 30-second increments on half power until warmed through. Alternatively, place on a wire rack on a baking sheet and bake at 250°F for 20-30 minutes.
- Make ahead – The cilantro lime steak marinade can be made up to 3 days ahead and refrigerated. Alternatively, make a large batch and portion into smaller containers before freezing for later use.
- Doneness – Due to the tough muscle fibers in the meat, I wouldn’t cook it past medium. If you cook it any longer, the meat will become dry and tough.
Frequently Asked Questions
Once your meat has marinated, you’ll want to cook it quickly over high heat. Grill on medium-high heat for 4 to 8 minutes per side. In the oven, broil for 4 to 6 minutes per side on high. On the stove, cook for 4 to 8 minutes per side on medium-high heat.
Most carne asada recipes call for skirt steak or flank steak. As previously stated, even when “doing everything right” and cutting against the grain, skirt and flank steaks can often turn out tough/chewy. That’s where the marinade comes into play.
Traditionally, skirt or flank steak is used to make carne asada. The two cuts are nearly identical and can be used interchangeably. There are a few differences between the two meat cuts. Skirt steak has an intense meaty flavor as well, but it has more tough fibers than flank steak.
Carne asada is traditionally grilled until well done. Most people who did not grow up eating this dish may find it difficult to swallow, so many cooks prepare it medium instead. When the meat has been grilled to perfection, transfer it to a carving board.