All you need are pantry staples to season great carne asada

Carne asada
(Hanna Carter / For The Times )

With so many of you having to stay home and cook for the first time — ever or more than you have in a long time — we get that it can be overwhelming to have to cook all your meals from scratch. So we’re here to get you started.

Each day we’re going to post a new skill here and go in detail about how to do it — a resource for cooking basics so you can get food on the table and get through this.

A series of simple tutorials for making some basic recipes at home.

Lesson 40: Carne Asada


For my parents, the carne asada burritos at Taco Village, a long-gone mom-and-pop restaurant in Montebello, were the American dream wrapped in tortillas. Steak symbolized the bounty of America’s food riches to them and at Taco Village, you got a lot of it without paying too much. My folks always ordered carne asada burritos, meat only. They were stuffed so thick that one order was enough for two meals.

Years ago, I asked Taco Village’s owner for his carne asada secret. He said there was no secret — the marinade was lime, garlic and onion. Testing variations on that trio, I finally realized the trick to get the best carne asada: dried granulated garlic and onion. Not only do they deliver more pungent flavor than fresh, they also create a smoky crust on the meat.

Skirt steak is the cut of choice for carne asada throughout Southern California and it’s my favorite too. But if you can’t find it, you can substitute flap, flank, hanger, or top round (London broil). Skirt is the flattest of the cuts, so it doesn’t take long to marinate or cook. Increase both times for thicker cuts.

Carne asada
Carne asada tastes great in salad too.
(Genevieve Ko)

Once grilled, be sure to let the meat rest for half its cooking time (just a few minutes) for nicer slicing and better eating. Load it with tomatoes, chiles, avocado, lettuce or whatever other vegetables you have on hand for tacos, burritos or a salad. A final dousing with more lime juice and your favorite salsa will make this the most satisfying steak dinner.

Carne Asada

Time 20 minutes
Yields Serves 4