For these steak tacos, flavorful flank steak is marinated in a spicy paste of garlic, jalapeno, cumin, and cilantro and then seared until medium-rare. The tacos are garnished with pickled red onions and lime.
Finally, a steak taco recipe that let’s you determine whether you want the marinade to boast a little or a lotta heat. It’s entirely up to you. Simply scrape away and discard the seeds from the jalapeño if you prefer a touch less heat. It’s that easy. Originally published August 31, 2009.–Renee Schettler Rossi
- Quick Glance
- 40 M
- 1 H, 15 M
- Serves 4 to 6
- For the marinade
- 1/2 cup packed cilantro leaves
- 3 medium scallions, chopped coarse
- 3 medium garlic cloves, chopped coarse
- 1 medium jalapeño chile (for a less intense heat, discard the seeds)*, roughly or finely chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/4 cup mild vegetable oil
- 1 tablespoon juice from 1 lime
- One (1 1/2- to 1 3/4-pound) flank steak, trimmed and cut lengthwise (with the grain) into 4 equal pieces
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar
- Ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- For the tacos
- Twelve 6-inch corn tortillas*, warmed
- Cilantro leaves, for serving
- Minced white onion or pickled red onion, for serving
- 1 lime, cut into wedges for serving
- Make the marinade
- 1. Pulse the cilantro, scallions, garlic, jalapeño, and cumin together in a food processor until finely chopped, 10 to 12 pulses, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add the oil and process until the mixture is smooth and resembles pesto, about 15 seconds, again scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Transfer 2 tablespoons of the herb paste to a large bowl, stir in the lime juice, and set aside until just before serving.
- 2. Using a dinner fork, poke each piece of steak 10 to 12 times on each side. Place the steak in a large baking dish, rub all sides of the steak evenly with 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and then coat with the cilantro paste. Wrap the steaks with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 to 60 minutes.
- 3. Scrape the cilantro paste off the steak and sprinkle all sides evenly with the sugar and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper. Heat the oil in 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking. Carefully place the steak in the skillet and cook until well browned on the first side, 3 to 5 minutes. Flip the steak and sear until well browned on the second side, 3 to 5 minutes.
- 4. Using tongs, hold each piece of steak so a cut side is against the skillet and continue cook, turning as necessary to brown all sides well, to the desired doneness. [Editor’s Note: We strongly encourage you to cook this only until medium-rare as flank steak tends to become really quite tough when cooked to medium or well done.] Transfer the steak to a carving board, loosely tent it with foil, and let rest for at least 5 minutes.
- Assemble the tacos
- 5. Meanwhile, warm the tortillas by placing each one over the medium flame of a gas burner until slightly charred, about 30 seconds per side, or by stacking them and wrapping them in aluminum foil and placing them in a warm ovene. Keep the warmed tortillas wrapped in a kitchen towel or foil until ready to use or they’ll dry out.
- 6. Slice the steak on the diagonal and against the grain into 1/8-inch-thick strips. Transfer the sliced steak to the bowl with the reserved cilantro-lime mixture and toss to coat. Season the steak with salt and pepper to taste. Spoon a small amount of the sliced steak into the center of each warm tortilla and serve immediately, passing the cilantro, onions, and lime wedges separately.
*Tips for buying corn tortillas
- When buying corn tortillas, consider checking the ingredient list to see that it includes nothing more than ground corn, water, and lime (an alkali that removes the germ and hull) and water. Look for tortillas sold in the refrigerator case of the supermarket, as these have few, if any, preservatives and tend to boast more corn flavor.
Recipe Testers Reviews
These steak tacos were absolutely delicious. I loved the flavors that came from the jalapeno, garlic, cilantro, cumin, and green onions. The lime gave it a nice freshness and I enjoyed the brightness that it lent when squeezed over the finished tacos.
I used some homemade salsa on ours and hubby and I also added some queso fresco in addition to the onion and lime juice. Hubby added sour cream to his. It took a bit longer than the 3 minutes per side to get ours to medium-rare, maybe about 5 per side, plus a couple minutes on each edge.
Hubby doesn’t like the pronounced flavor of cilantro, so I marinated all the steaks for 1 hour, but then after I cooked and sliced them I didn’t add his share of steak back to the reserved marinade. I’ll be making these steak tacos again and again.