This little Brazilian steak number is a favorite of The One’s. Actually, it’s one of the recipes he’s commandeered and refuses to let me make. And I go along with it: He thinks I do it for the sake of domestic harmony. The truth? Laziness. If I can just show up at the dinner table for a meal this good without having to lift a finger, I’m as compliant as a kitten.

While I can shout the glories of this skirt steak from the rooftop, I have to turn to The One for tips, tricks, and techniques since I’ve never made it!

His two big suggestions are to use apple cider vinegar and coconut oil. He likes the sweet-tartness of the apple vinegar, and the coconut oil gives the salsa a bit of a tropical flavor.

One caveat, though: Coconut oil’s melting point is 78°F (25°C); below that, it’s a hunk o’ solid fat. Now that summer’s almost here with its scorching dog days (thank you, climate change), that’s not a big deal. But if you serve this in cooler weather, The One suggests zapping the salsa in the microwave for a few seconds at a time until the oil is liquid. If you’re on the fence, go with olive oil. (I won’t tell him.)

Also, he says skirt steak isn’t the inexpensive cut of meat it once was. If it’s too much, use flank steak. You’ll need to cook it longer because it’s thicker than skirt steak.

Do you want to know how truly awesome this is? Our dear friend Nora, who lives in Uruguay, requests this steak every time she visits. (Well, this and my coconut layer cake.) That’s high praise indeed, as Uruguay is part of what I call the Argentine Beef Belt and home to the cooking-with-fire prophet himself, Francis Mallman. Nora knows her meat, and she gives this a big medium-rare thumbs up.

David Leite's handwritten signature of 'David.'
david caricature

Why Our Testers Loved This

Tester Kristen K. described this seared skirt steak and salsa as “a simple recipe, easy to assemble and prepare, and positively divine.” That sums it up perfectly.

What You’ll Need to Make This

Ingredients for seared skirt steak with salsa--coconut oil, tomatoes, apple cider vinegar, lime, garlic, skirt steak, cilantro, serrano, and onion.
  • Tomato—To give the salsa the best flavor, seek out the brightest, juiciest-looking tomato you can find. Skip the hard or pale red tomatoes.
  • Serrano pepper—If you’re sensitive to heat, scrape out the seeds and white membrane from inside the pepper before chopping. You can also swap in jalapeño, which is a milder pepper.
  • Lime—One lime should yield about 2 tablespoons of juice. If yours is particularly stingy, grab another one and juice that as well.
  • Oil—Coconut oil adds a nice tropical note but can clump if the other salsa ingredients are cold. If it does clump, zap the salsa in the microwave for a few seconds. If that’s not your thing, olive or avocado oil is also fine.
  • Vinegar—Red and white wine work here, but The One would be heartbroken if you didn’t try apple cider vinegar. Whatever you do, don’t skip the vinegar; it adds brightness and a zing to the salsa.
  • Skirt steak—If your supermarket or butcher has both inside and outside skirt steaks, choose the outside cut. It’s more tender and has better flavor.

How to Make This Recipe

A person mixing salsa ingredients in a small bowl; a person seasoning a skirt steak with salt on a cutting board.
  1. Combine the salsa ingredients in a medium bowl and set aside.
  2. Sprinkle the steak with salt on both sides. Let it rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.
Two skirt steak halves in a cast iron pan; two seared skirt steak pieces on a cutting board.
  1. Heat a grill pan or skillet until very hot. Sear the steak until cooked to your desired doneness.
  2. Scrape any excess salt off the steak and let it rest for 10 minutes. Carve against the grain and serve with the salsa.

Common Questions

What is skirt steak?

A long, thin cut, skirt steak is the unsung hero for red-meat lovers. Sliced from the diaphragm area, just under the ribs, it’s perfect for quick cooking. With big beefy flavor, it’s the steak most commonly used in fajitas. Sliced against the grain, skirt steak is tender and juicy after just a quick sear in a hot pan.

An uncooked piece of skirt steak.

What’s the difference between skirt steak and flank steak?

The main difference between these cuts of meat is where they’re located. Skirt steak comes from the diaphragm area of the cow, while flank steak is from the abdomen. Flank steak tends to be a wider cut and has a more visible grain running through it.

Both have a rich, beefy flavor, though many find the taste of skirt steak to be more pronounced. Both steaks benefit from quick, high-heat cooking, such as grilling or pan-searing, and remember to cut them thinly against the grain so that they aren’t tough and chewy. 

Helpful Tips

  • Make a double batch of the salsa and dribble it over breakfast tacos, grilled chicken, or scoop it up with chips.
  • This recipe is suitable for gluten-free and dairy-free diets.

Variations

There are tons of ways to improvise with this, especially the salsa. Think red onion, green onion, flat-leaf parsley, or mint. Stuff the steak slices into warm tortillas or drape them on a salad. You get the idea.

What to Serve With This Recipe

My testers recommend serving this simple seared steak with grill-roasted potatoes and an easy spring salad on the side.

Sliced skirt steak topped with salsa with a bowl of salsa and charred lime halves on the side.

More Great Skirt Steak Recipes

Write a Review

If you make this recipe, or any dish on LC, consider leaving a review, a star rating, and your best photo in the comments below. I love hearing from you.–David

The salsa was amazing and refreshing! It paired very well with the skirt steak, and the entire meal was easy to prepare and not time-consuming. I’ll be making this dish regularly!

Beverly F.
Sliced skirt steak topped with salsa with a bowl of salsa and charred lime halves on the side.

Seared Skirt Steak with Salsa

5 / 4 votes
This seared skirt steak with salsa is an easy, Brazilian-inspired meal of pan-seared steak that’s topped with a spicy tomato, onion, pepper, cilantro, and vinegar salsa.
David Leite
CourseMains
CuisineAmerican
Servings4 servings
Calories340 kcal
Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time10 minutes
Total Time50 minutes

Ingredients 

For the Brazilian salsa

  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup tomato, finely chopped
  • 1/2 serrano pepper, finely chopped
  • 1 or 2 cloves of garlic, pressed
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons coconut or extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon red wine, white wine, or apple cider vinegar

For the skirt steak

  • 1 1/2 pounds skirt steak
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons coarse sea salt or kosher salt

Instructions 

Make the salsa

  • In a medium bowl, mix the cilantro, onion, tomato, serrano pepper, garlic, fresh lime juice, sea salt, black pepper, oil, and vinegar.
    A person mixing salsa ingredients in a small bowl.

Make the skirt steak

  • Place the meat on a cutting board and sprinkle both sides with coarse salt. Resist the temptation to rub the salt in—you’ll end up making the steak too salty. Let sit for 30 minutes so the meat can soak up some of the salt and come to room temperature.
    A person seasoning a skirt steak on a cutting board with salt.
  • Heat a cast-iron grill pan or skillet over high heat until very, very hot. (I mean smoking hot!) Sear the steak until cooked to perfection, 3 to 5 minutes per side for medium rare. A wee bit longer for a medium steak.
    Two pieces of skirt steak in a cast iron pan.
  • Remove the steak from the pan and scrape off the excess salt. Place it on a warm plate, cover it, and let it rest for about 10 minutes.
    Two seared pieces of skirt steak on a cutting board.
  • Slice the steak into thin slices across the grain. Serve immediately with the salsa on the side.

Notes

  1. Double the salsa–Make a double batch of the salsa and dribble it over breakfast tacos, grilled chicken, or scoop it up with chips.
  2. Dietary–This recipe is suitable for gluten-free and dairy-free diets.

Adapted From

Keto Cooking for Healing and Weight Loss

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Nutrition

Serving: 1 portionCalories: 340 kcalCarbohydrates: 5 gProtein: 37 gFat: 20 gSaturated Fat: 10 gMonounsaturated Fat: 6 gTrans Fat: 1 gCholesterol: 107 mgSodium: 3895 mgFiber: 1 gSugar: 2 g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe?Mention @leitesculinaria or tag #leitesculinaria!
Recipe © 2021 Vivica Menegaz. Photos © 2024 David Leite. All rights reserved.

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

This seared skirt steak is stand-alone delicious and and such an easy dinner to prepare. The addictive salsa requires minimum knife skills and comes together in minutes. Make it while you’re waiting for the skirt steak to be seasoned by the salt and come to room temperature.

Paired with an avocado salad and roasted potatoes, it’s a perfect meal. The steak would also make a great taco or quesadilla filling.

Delicious and easy—the perfect trip to South America without leaving home. I’ve never been to Brazil, but I have been to Argentina and Uruguay, where the quintessential meal is just like this one—beef with a fresh chunky sauce, and this recipe is right on.

The chopping takes a little time, but after that, it’s a breeze to finish. Follow the recipe’s timing, and you’ll have a perfect medium-rare steak. The fresh flavor of the salsa and steak complement each other beautifully.

I made roasted potatoes and broccoli, and paired the steak with a 2018 Garzon Tannat from Uruguay, and I was in dinner heaven. I can’t wait till the weather warms, and I can make this on the grill.

The seared skirt steak is exquisite with the salsa, and the dish is at once rich and bright. It’s a simple recipe, easy to assemble and prepare, and positively divine. I can’t wait to throw this together the next time I have company.

Although my skirt steak was only 1.41 pounds, it still took a solid 5 minutes per side on a very hot grill pan. I let it rest for 30 minutes and started dibble-dabbling into the salsa. I quickly fell in love and decided to make another batch for breakfast the next day.

I used olive oil and red wine vinegar, subbed 1/2 a jalapeño for the Serrano peppers (I can’t find them where I live), and used Portuguese salt cream for the steak.

This was such a delicious dish. The fresh salsa was so flavorful and added great flavor to the dish. I’m a salt and pepper person for steak, and I can say I didn’t miss the black pepper. I cooked our steak medium-rare, which was 4 minutes on each side.

My skirt steak was a little thicker than what I normally see, which is why it took longer than the recipe stated.

If you’re a red-meat lover like me, it’s difficult to pass up a perfectly seared skirt steak. After a long day of cleaning, I wanted something easy for dinner, and this was just the ticket. A little prep, a little waiting over a nice glass of wine, and a quick cook. Voila! The perfect rare to medium-rare steak.

Any leftover steak is wonderful as a steak sandwich, with a little arugula and horseradish mayo. Bottom line: I’ll use this method of cooking skirt steak going forward.

I loved the flavor of this seared steak. Combined with the Brazilian salsa, it was a great bite. I used a cast iron pan that I let heat up for several minutes. By the time I added the steak, the pan was extremely hot, and the meat was medium-rare in slightly under three minutes per side with a 10-minute covered rest.

This Brazilian salsa is definitely the star of this dish. I could eat it as a salsa with chips. It was so bright and flavorful, and the red onions I used almost had a sweet note to them. I also used half of a jalapeño pepper instead of the serrano pepper to minimize the spice levels. It was terrific!

Searing a steak on the stovetop never quite has the same visual appeal to me as a steak with the fire-kissed char from a grill. Of course, that’s a personal preference.

I followed the directions as instructed for salting the steak and letting it sit for 30 minutes before putting it into the hot pan. I seared the steak for three minutes on each side for a perfect medium-rare, and let it rest for 10 minutes. The steak sliced beautifully, and I drizzled the salsa over the top, and served it with roasted baby potatoes and steamed broccoli on the side.

Overall, this was an amazing dish. The steak and brightly flavored salsa worked beautifully together, and we’ll definitely do this again, but the next time we’ll be throwing the steak on the grill.

Skirt steak is one of my favorite things to grill. It has a great beefy flavor and lends itself to lots of seasonings. The salsa in this recipe sends it to a 10. It’s a superb blend of fresh, sweet, herbal heat; no one ingredient overwhelms the others. I used one-half of a large jalapeño (no serranos in the market) and liked the amount of heat it brought.

One bite of the steak with the salsa, and I was hooked. All of the flavors of the salsa popped and were perfectly balanced. The steak was delicious, and my husband even had a few slices. He prefers fish to beef, so I made swordfish for him, and he loved the salsa on it.

Bright tomato, sweet onion, fresh cilantro, and just the right amount of jalapeño heat make this a salsa that could go on any number of dishes. Tacos, grilled chicken, you name it. This made a delicious Sunday night supper served with the Caesar roasted romaine.




About David Leite

I count myself lucky to have received three James Beard Awards for my writing as well as for Leite’s Culinaria. My work has also appeared in The New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, Saveur, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Yankee, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, and more.


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Recipe Rating




10 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    The salsa was amazing and refreshing! It paired very well with the skirt steak and the entire meal was easy to prepare and not time consuming. I will be making this dish regularly!